Friday, January 27, 2006

Conversations with my father

My dad and me, late 1950's

I've been thinking about my dad a lot lately. He passed away in July 2004, and sometimes it seems I miss him more instead of less as time goes by.

Before a condition called hepatic encephalopathy clouded his brain, I used to love having conversations with my dad. I wrote this on my blog in May of 2004, before his death that July:

"As a teen, I often disagreed with my father, but he never belittled me or made me feel like I couldn't express my viewpoints respectfully. It's interesting how, down through the years, I've swung around to his way of thinking on so many things!

"Since my folks have lived in the Austin area, every time I visited Texas, my dad and I would take long walks together. These were supposed to be fitness walks, as he and I both were always trying to lose some weight and become more fit. But even as they helped me physically, they turned into wonderful occasions for long conversations.

"I can recall many times when he would want to go on a walk and I would try to beg out of it, especially when the Texas sun was blazing particularly hot. But I usually gave in and dragged out my walking shoes, because even in those days, I knew that time with my dad was precious and wouldn't last forever.

"Now, I'm so glad I had all those conversations with my dad. I'll always treasure them."

Dad and me in March 2003--his sickness beginning to take a toll

I thought about those conversations today when I ran across this article about the daughter of Charlie Chaplin.

Apparently, although she lived in the same house with her aging father, Jane Chaplin didn't have her first and only meaningful private conversation with him until she was 17 years old, and it lasted only about 17 minutes. In fact, the book she is writing about him is entitled "Seventeen minutes with my father."

According to the article, "Jane said she grew up fearing rather than knowing her father, and being constantly told by her mother and by servants that that he was a genius and she would never match him."

How incredibly sad! I can't help but compare it to the many lengthy conversations I had with my dad during the 40-plus years I had with him...too many minutes, too many hours of conversation to even begin to count.

The spiritual application here is glaringly obvious. How many of us Christians live in our Father's house, blessed children of the King, and rarely take the opportunity to speak to Him?

I don't know if Charlie Chaplin would have wanted more contact with his daughter, although he was apparently kind and gracious to her during that seventeen minutes they shared. Obviously he did nothing to try to build a relationship with her. But our Father wants to communicate with us...he seeks companionship with us!

I know I don't take enough advantage of this wonderful benefit of being a child of God. I can't talk with my earthly father now, but I do have a heavenly Father that loves me and wants to speak with me, and He is the creator of the universe.

Amazing and awe-inspiring.

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