Remembering My Dad

I have just put my salty swimming costume in the laundry when Mum calls us into her room. She is sitting on the edge of the bed – the one we used to jump in as kids; all five of us, loud and raucous under the blue and gold brocade quilt. Dad is standing near the doorway shuffling awkwardly. ‘Your father has something to tell you,’ Mum says, tilting her head towards Dad, but looking down at the carpet.

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Us kids stand in an odd little circle around the room gawking at each other, anxious to finish our holiday unpacking and get to our favourite TV shows.

Dad clears his throat. He calls in Ruth, a woman who’d been our guest on our beach trip. Then he says; “I don’t love your mother anymore. I’m going to marry Ruth.”

There’s an awkward silence. My heart freezes like a still from a movie other people are watching. I look up at my big sister – Is this a joke?

It wasn’t.

I run into the garage choking and gasping.

___

In the end my Dad didn’t marry Ruth. He went on to marry another woman. Then another. And another. He was on his fourth marriage when he died suddenly of a heart attack four years ago.

In my twenties I felt convicted to honour my dad. That obscure fifth commandment right before the thou-shalt-not-murder one. Honour your father and mother so that it may go well with you. At the time I didn’t exactly know what it meant, but I figured if Dad was ever going to come back to God, then maybe it would be because his daughter tried to love him.

It was tough. Sending Father’s Day cards when I didn’t know what to write and the printed greetings read like a bad cliche. Searching the stores for gifts when I had no idea what to buy. Weighty dinners of one-sided conversation, meeting a string of girlfriends; looking for a ‘sorry’ when there never was one.

After the funeral I learned Dad left me with a small inheritance. It was his way of saying the things he could never say. Thank you for loving me, thank you for still being there; thank you for the phone calls and the gifts and the dinners and all the cards (which I learned from his widow occupied prize position on the bureau).

Since then, I’ve thought about the inheritance my Dad gave me – the financial one – and the other inheritance too. The one that I never expected…

In honouring my Dad, I’ve learnt about forgiveness; how when we let go we see more clearly.

In getting to know my Dad, I’ve learnt who I am; how understanding him has helped me to accept and love parts of myself.

In laying down my need to be loved, I’ve learnt how sacrifice and selflessness can soften hearts in ways that nothing else can.

Following a difficult commandment for twenty years has brought a rich inheritance. Truly it has gone well with me.

 

  • Wayne Robert

    Indeed you are a blessing Tania; love your softness and gentleness in your practicality. I recommend your resources to many because I believe what you have to say is crucial for leaning upon His breast, to be close to Him. Your teaching fills a needed resource in my discipleship progress. Thanks dear sister.

    • You’re so welcome Wayne! Thank you for your very kind words of encouragement :-)

  • Aimee Ballantyne

    Hi Tania,
    You are an amazing woman of God. I love how God has called you into ministry in such specific ways…you truly have been a blessing to me/my life, such a down to earth lady – awesome to talk to you over the weekend regarding so many things (it felt like talking to a good friend). May God bless you abundantly in the blue mountains!!
    Keep Smiling! :)xox Aimee :)

    • Tania Harris

      Thank you Aimee, it was such a pleasure to meet you too and to hear some of your story! Believing for grace and wisdom all over your life and on your family, xo

  • David

    Hey Tania,

    I just watched on youtube your radio interview

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dj1jFHnGv5c

    I really like the way you explained hearing God’s voice.

    • Tania Harris

      That’s great David – so glad it was helpful! Bless you

  • Tara

    Thanks for sharing your story Tania. I know there is a lot of pain you have persevered through – you are a remarkable woman!

    Since God brought that scripture to my attention 20 years ago, I have been trying to honour my dad (who left similarly to yours, except when I was 1). Recently, however, I tired of the ongoing hurt from his continued rejection and coldness towards his children and grandchildren. I know this sounds terrible, but I would like to know the minimum “honour” that applies to a man who is father in genetics only. :(

    • Tania Harris

      Thank you Tara and great question – honour – perhaps a level of respect and acceptance for them as a person? At the very least it was about forgiveness. For me that resulted in some level of relationship, but I don’t think it always has to…

  • Peniel

    God bless you Liz. I pray my son’s heart will be softened to forgive his dad who rejected his pregnancy & having met him a couple of awkward times in his teens is still not enthusiastic about him.

  • Liz Warren

    Hi Tania,
    Wow that was a really brave and personal post!
    How we need to see good Dads and men grown! The church/family is the place to do this. it’s such an important goal to grow safe, god honouring men who will make great safe husbands.
    xx

    • Tania Harris

      Thank you Liz! Amen to that!