dad i never knew

Father’s Day Regrets & Redemption

Last year on Father’s Day, I wrote about apathy toward my father and my desire to change.  Here’s an excerpt from that entry on June 19, 2011:

I care far less than I should.  But today is Father’s Day and I am inspired to change.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  Maybe I’ll write him a letter.  Maybe I’ll get his number and call him.  Maybe my wife and I will plan a trip to go see him in the next few months.  I believe fathers and sons are reflections.  Sons see their fathers, reflect their fathers, and become their fathers.  But maybe it works the other way around too.  Maybe a father can see his son, reflect his son, and become his son.  Maybe we all have demons we’re wrestling.  Maybe my father and I are in some ways wrestling the same demon.  And maybe, after all these years of wrestling with alcoholism, addiction, and apathy, he and I, my father and I, can beat this thing together.

Sadly, I didn’t have the resolve to actually do what I set out to do.  I sat down to write a letter to my father a few times in the weeks after this initial blog entry.  But I was never able to finish.  Everything I wrote felt trivial or fake.  So I quit.  I never wrote him.  I never called.  I just let him be, as I’d always done.

My father passed away two months ago.  I went to Korea for a couple of days to attend his funeral and take care of some family business.  While there, I found out that my father had given his life to Christ and turned his life around in the last few years of his life.  He’d beaten his demons and spent his final months praying for me and my mother and actively participating in the life of his local church.  He’d taken up photography and snapped pictures any chance he got.  He’d always been a good man, my aunts and uncles told me, and in the final years of his life, he’d actually lived a good life.  Here’s an excerpt from my entry on April 30, 2012, describing my thoughts and feelings on losing my father and the powerful story of a life redeemed:

It’s difficult to describe in words how shaken and moved I am by this part of my father’s story.  I am grateful that God would weave his grace and love into a story as tattered and torn as that of my father and me.  But this is how our God works.  He takes the most broken, mends things together, and redeems the rubble into the most beautiful mosaic.  And so today I remember that my father, despite the mess he made of life, was a good man, kind and compassionate, loved by God and family and friends.  I remember that in spite of his absence, he has been and will continue to be a massive part of who I am, a backdrop against which to color the story of my own life, within the lines of his successes and outside the lines of his failures.  Most importantly, I remember that he is my father, I am his son, and we are both children of the Most High, rescued by love, redeemed by grace, remade into the sons of God neither of us could ever become on our own.

I miss my dad.  I wish I’d been a better man myself.  I wish I’d reached out, written a letter, given him a call every now and then.  I wish I had more pictures of him and with him.  I wish we could’ve shared a cold beer and grilled meat and talked about baseball.  I take comfort in knowing that in God’s kingdom, even regrets can be redeemed.  So I eagerly await the day I’ll see my dad again, when we’ll laugh together for the first time, and we’ll enjoy catching up for eternity.