With Father’s Day this weekend, of course I’ve been thinking about my dad again. He’s not here for me to hug anymore. Not here for me to say “Happy Father’s Day” to. Not around for me to bake a cake or grill up some hamburgers for. This is the 10th one since he’s been gone. Kinda crazy to think about.
So, in remembering my dad today, it made me think about this past April (the 20th being the 10 year anniversary of his death), and some of the realizations I came to that, frankly, I never saw before. It was too hard for me to write about it then, so that’s why I waited until now. Perhaps this is something you’ve already discovered, something you made the connection to a long time ago… or maybe you haven’t. Either way, I want to share it with you because it’s become really important to me.
How many of you out there are either Christians yourselves or have observed Christian practices in a church or elsewhere? You are probably familiar with the concept of Communion then, right? Though it is practiced differently in some churches and religious circles, the premise remains the same: it is done in remembrance of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice which He made for us, with His own life, in payment for our sin. We eat a piece of bread (cracker, wafer, etc.) and taste the wine (grape juice, etc.) as we think about this sacrifice and make a connection to Him yet again. This is all done in reverence and with love. (Or at least it should be.)
Every year, on the anniversary of my Dad’s death (April 20) and his birthday (July 29), I eat a special meal and I think about him. He was sick for my entire memorable life (he came ill when I was still very small), and though I didn’t get to know him as well as I wish I could have, there were times when he was able to outshine the disease that held him captive – and it’s those memories that I hold onto. One thing I remember enjoying with him was egg salad sandwiches. My mom also tells me that when she and him were dating, he also liked to have Lime Jell-O with pears in it and make the meal a picnic. So, what is it that I eat for lunch and/or dinner now on these special days? You got it – egg salad sandwiches, and Jell-O (though not as easy to find now in Thailand).
It really is important to me to do this, as it helps me feel some sort of connection to the father that’s no longer here with me. It gives me the chance to think about him (not that I don’t already, most every day), and bring back his memory in a tangible way. It reminds me of the love I had for him while he was around, lets me think about the struggles he had to overcome with his health all those years, and allows me to miss him in a non-depressing sort of way. I do everything I can to make sure it happens every year, and I look forward to it.
It wasn’t until standing in church at the end of April (this year), not long after having my traditional meal a week or two before, that I finally had a sort of epiphany, if you will… you see, I’ve always taken and understood Communion, but this time I connected with it in a different way. After all, how was this bread and juice, mixed with Scripture readings and prayer, any different from what I do for my own Dad 2 times a year? It’s taking something we have, and using it to remember someone we love in a tangible way – the same way every single time, and on a regular basis. I don’t know if I make any sense to anyone other than myself on this, but all I know is that I feel like I understand the meaning behind this practice in church a little bit better, and I think it hits just a little bit deeper for me now. What I don’t understand is why I’ve never made this connection before now… maybe the timing was meant for me to be in Thailand, separated from everyone else I know, before I could really understand what everything is all about.
I duno… just thinkin’.
** Oh, and the title picture for this post on the main page is actually a picture my Dad took of himself taking a picture, in a mirror. 🙂 **