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This one’s for you, Daddy!

A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR – LEANN DILBECK

There are “fathers” and then there are “daddies.” One is a term given to those who have biologically procreated.  The other is more of a title that is earned, not always by biology, but through a lot of love, respect, leadership, counseling, prayer, and yes, probably some sleepless nights as well.

Just like when writing to honor my Mom, to write of my love and respect for my Daddy is equally overwhelming because there truly aren’t words to express my admiration. I am the proverbial Daddy’s little girl… in fact, the only pet name he ever had for me was “Lil’ Girl,” a pet name that might seem insulting as you become older but not for me. I love the idea of knowing that no matter how old I get, there is always someone there to protect and love me. He’s my rock… my anchor.

I read once that for young girls growing up without a positive relationship with their father or a father figure, it could have detrimental affects on their relationship with their Heavenly Father. The logic was that if they can’t find trust and security with a “tangible” earthly father, they would not believe it to be possible to trust a Heavenly Father that they can’t see, hug, touch, etc.  So, the opposite should also be true, right? Perhaps, it is because of the security and trust that I have always enjoyed with my Daddy that I have always enjoyed a close relationship with my Heavenly Father… perhaps the greatest gift a father could pass on to his daughter.

As a little girl, I remember our family vacations consisted of camping trips to a creek somewhere in Shady… so, so many treasured memories. I remember standing at the top of a rock to jump down into the water when I couldn’t even swim. As a little girl, that rock seemed 20 stories tall… but then I would see Daddy’s crystal blue eyes looking up at me with arms outstretched… encouraging me the whole time that he would catch me… and he always did. Never did I realize as a little girl the symbolism of something that probably seemed so small to him. From catching me off rocks, to catching my teenage crocodile tears caused by those silly boys, to holding my hand while I was in labor and about to become a parent myself… his love and presence is always constant… just like my Heavenly Father’s.

It was his strong will to live, and God’s grace, that kept him with us when we literally lost him, suddenly… with no warning… 7 years ago. That moment forever changed me. I remember begging God to not him take yet, that our family just didn’t work without him… For the next 6 weeks, I watched my strong Daddy, my rock, wither away in a hospital bed to weigh less than I do. They stabilized him and sent him home with us but said his diagnosis was degenerative… but, they just didn’t know my Daddy.  Lots of rest and TLC that only my Momma can give, not to mention her good cookin’, and seven years later, his condition has NOT deteriorated but improved, amazing even the doctors. Another example of the power of his amazing “can do” positive attitude and the healing power found in prayer and being surrounded by a loving family. I will always praise God for giving us more time together.

By example, he taught me about staying true to yourself and to never forget where you came from. He epitomized ambition, tenacity and drive in business and in life… always wanting his family to have more than he had growing up and for his children to have every opportunity they wanted to pursue. He taught me independence and to never rely on others to provide for you. He taught me to respect myself because if I didn’t, no one else would either. He taught me about taking pride in your work and being fair to others. He taught me to never forget those who have helped you along the way and if you can’t repay it, then pay it forward.  So much wisdom learned from this great man but out of all his wonderful characteristics is his humility. He is flawed and imperfect and never tries to camouflage it.  He never tries to portray that he is something that he isn’t… he is the real deal. He is true. He is able to admit his mistakes and shortcomings and share what he has learned from them because, to him, they’re not mistakes if you learned something from them. And through all of that, he taught me probably one of life’s greatest lessons… that it is by God’s grace and His grace alone that we have anything because without Him, we have and are nothing.

My Daddy has, and always be, one of the greatest sources of strength for me, because even after his this life separates us, his words of wisdom are forever inscribed on my heart.

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