I lost my dad this past week, and while he was 92, it was too soon. You may be familiar with some of his story from previous posts (here and here)… but I wanted to share what I said about him during his memorial service, which we called, ‘A Celebration of Life for Jack Polk.”
It literally seems like yesterday— calling for him in the middle of the night to check under my bed for monsters and bears. This was a middle-of-the-night, nightly occurrence through my elementary years. He would lovingly come every time, never scolding me, just reassuring me there were no wild bears in my room that night.
My dad was always there for me: available, present, engaging. I was a high-strung, strong-willed little girl, in this otherwise, super calm family. Many times, my mom just didn’t have the energy to deal with me, and my brother, Doug, looked for strategic ways to diffuse my antics…but my dad was able to gently interact with me, expressing his love for me.
My dad would walk to and from work, and the highlight of my day as a little girl, would be walking to the end of our street at 5:00 p.m. to wait for him. As soon as I saw him coming, I would take off at full speed, and JUMP into his arms. We would walk the rest of the way home together, with me talking a mile a minute, telling him every detail of my day. It was our special time, and he was still telling people that story even as recently as this past month.
Everyone knew I was a daddy’s girl, especially here at church. I sat on my dad’s lap through church until I was 12 years old. Again, he was my safety, my comfort. There’s no greater gift to give your kids than to let them know how much you enjoy them. I KNEW my dad enjoyed me. Truly a gift!
My dad was the one who put Doug and I to bed each night. We (ok—probably just me—) would drag out the whole bedtime routine as long as possible, and even after all the time it took to get us into bed, he would sit in the hallway between our rooms and tell us a Bible story. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was a favorite, along with the story of Samuel running to Eli when the Lord was calling him.
MANY mornings before school, my dad would kneel down with us around his bed, and pray for us and over us.
We felt loved. We felt secure. My dad was exactly the dad I needed for the way God created me.
I’m gonna skip right over talking about my high school years… let’s just sum it by saying… my dad was amazing through my temporary loss of all rational thought. He gently guided and encouraged me back to sanity! And he was my protector!
I guess you could say my dad was one of the first people to initiate the thought of Eddie and I dating. After my freshman year of college, I was needing a ride home for the summer, and my parents weren’t able to drive down to get me. My dad cornered Eddie, asking him if he’d be willing to pick me up… which was a bit of a stretch because Ed and I weren’t really friends. And, although that didn’t happen, the seed was planted, and we actually began dating that summer— much to my dad’s approval.
One more personal story.
A few years back I had a cancer diagnosis that sent me on an unwanted journey of surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. This was really hard on my dad— he didn’t know how to help me—what he could do for me. In his gentle, unassuming way he began surprising me every few weeks with a gift… and always at church. He would meet me in the church lobby, hug on me, and then slip a $100 bill in my hand and say, “This is for you. Don’t tell Sue.” Hah!
I could go on… and on… but this is the snapshot I chose to focus on today… a glimpse of life with my dad through the eyes of his little girl who felt very loved.
He was extraordinary… in his gentle, faithful, and loving way.