11 years ago yesterday we lost my Dad to Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). I can not believe it has been that long. It just dawned on me yesterday on the long drive home from our ministry trip, that yesterday was the anniversary of his passing. I would have written this blog last night, but was too tired to write all my thoughts down then. I thought about him a lot as I was driving my half of the ten hour drive yesterday and most everyone else in the car was sleeping. It brought many smiles to my face as I re-lived so many memories of my precious precious Daddy.
Daddy was a pretty unique guy. The thing I remember most about him is that everyone he knew loved him, and he really made people laugh a lot. At home, he was quieter and more reserved most of the time, but was prone to do something silly now and then or say something hillarious that would leave us all in stitches of laughter. I remember spending hours upon hours sitting on the front porch swing with him most evenings, watching the sun set, or watching a thunderstorm go by. He loved to sit outside in the evenings, and I loved to join him out there.
Daddy had all kinds of funny sayings. Like almost every evening before bed he would come find me and say, "You're gonna look around here in about 37 seconds, and I'll be gone!" I have no idea why, but it was always 37 seconds! That was his way of saying good-night and I love you! ;) When he would tell me that something was about to happen and I wouldn't believe him he'd say, " You just hide and watch!" That little saying threw me for a loop when I was little, I remember always pondering that or even telling him outloud, "but Daddy if I am hiding, how can I watch?" and he'd just laugh. I'll never forget when I finally figured out that it was a joke! He'd also tell me, when he was about to do something that was unique or creative, "I learned this in the Army." I remember always thinking to myself (again, before I figured out it was just a saying of his) that Daddy was in the Air Force and not the Army, so how could he have learned it in the Army? :) He had all kinds of sayings and other little quirks that I will never forget.
I remember he used to call me by two special nick names. One was Marlarilla and the other was Marla Kay Kaddidlehopper Jones Rudd (of course Marla Kay and Rudd were my real name, the other two "middle names" must have just come out of no where somewhere along the way. I now call Hana, Hana Grace Kaddidlehopper Jones Ayatsuka sometimes. She usually cocks her head and looks at me in confusion... ;) Someday I'll tell her about how my Daddy gave me those extra middle names too!
He was so precious to me. He had a beautiful tenor voice, although I only heard it about two or three times when I caught him singing loud enough at church and I happened to be sitting beside him. I will never know why he wouldn't sing loud enough for others to hear, but for some reason he wouldn't. He also had a tender heart, that he didn't let show very often. He had a lot of compassion for people. I think he helped people in more ways than I'll ever know, when they really needed someone. His love languages were acts of service and gift giving. He did both of those well.
When I was 12 years old I told Mom and Dad I wanted a diamond ring for Christmas. My Daddy went out and specially picked out a heart shapped ring with a small diamond in it for me. At the time, we really couldn't afford it, and I didn't know that I was asking for something expensive. But Daddy rarely denied me anything I asked for. He spoiled me rotten, and I knew it was his way of saying he loved me! This is just one of the MILLIONS of times he went over and beyond to get me whatever I asked for!
He is missed by so many! I miss him so much too. I wonder what he would have thought of me becoming a missionary, moving all the way to Japan, then marrying Rocky? I wonder what it would be like to see him with Hana, and how sweet he would have been with her. Another little girl to love. Mom says he wanted a little girl so bad when they were having me. They didn't even think about boy names. He was so excited when I was a girl, and he used to come in from working on the tractor all day and just lay me in his lap and watch me for hours, Mom told me. He would have loved his little grand-daughter and spoiled her rotten too!
Daddy's are so precious to their little girls, and mine was so special to me. I wish he hadn't gone so soon, but I was so blessed to have him even for just 22 years, some are not so blessed. Even still, I will always miss him. It is bitter sweet now to celebrate the joy of my sweet daughter's birthday each year, just one day before remembering the loss of my Daddy.
And yet, I realize, if he had not died, I would not have gone through the changes I did in my walk with the Lord that led me to become a missionary which brings me to the life I have now. God works through even the most difficult and painful events in our life, to bring good to those who love Him. The scripture promises that, and He was true to that promise in my life.
But I still miss my Daddy...