Katie never knew her dad. He had held her when she was three months old but he rarely interacted with her after that. She only knew him as the man who came and took her sister away for weeks at a time.
So, it shouldn’t have surprised me one Sunday afternoon when she was about two or three, that she asked me, “Mommy, what’s a Daddy?” During Sunday School that morning, Mrs. Bowman had taught the lesson about obeying Mommy and Daddy. Katie held her question until she got home.
My mind raced as I considered how to explain this to Katie. Praying for wisdom I said, “Well, honey, a daddy is someone who loves a mommy and his children. He takes care of them, buying groceries, providing a home, going to work. He plays with them and just loves them.” I looked at her, hoping this would explain it well enough. She looked at me with total insight and said, “Oh! A grampa!”
I smiled. “Yes, a grampa.”
Katie adored her Grampa. And he adored her. Only a grampa would let a little girl stand on a bench behind his chair, combing his hair, styling it, using a (fake) blow dryer – all this while watching his beloved Cubs on television.
Only a grampa would let a little girl put Pound Kitties on his shoulders.
Or hang jingle bells on his ears – and never say a word.
Only her Grampa could fick (fix) anything. One day Dad came into the house holding a tiny piece of broken glass in his hand. “You know what Katie said, when she brought this to me? Fick it, Grampa. That little girl thinks I can fix anything.” He felt the weight of her trust.
Katie spent hours standing on her little bench, watching Grampa work in his workshop, asking questions, and happy to be with her Grampa.
There were times when he couldn’t fix things. Like when Karrie had to go to visit her Dad for six weeks in the summer. He spent many hours in his workshop, knowing that in his weakness, his inability to shelter Karrie, he could turn to the One Who would take care of her. My daughters have had many prayer warriors in their lives. Grampa was one of them.
In her succinct way, Kate provided me with her favorite memories of Grampa –
Running to his arms when dad came.
Knowing he watched out for us when tornadoes came.
Him bringing home Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Listening to his heartbeat when I would sit on his lap.
Him loving Gramma.
Riding in the back of his truck.
When he got sick (Alzheimer’s) we would dance in the living room.
You know all the dad stuff he did. What’s a daddy? Oh a Grampa!
Man I miss them.”
When Dad realized that he would be a very present part of my girls lives, he liked to say, “Either the Lord thinks I did such a good job raising my own kids, He said, ‘Here, do it again.’ or I did such a bad job raising my own kids, He said, ‘Here, try again.’
I think he did a great job – both times.