Friday, December 30, 2016

Taken Care Of

It was a fall Sunday during our engagement. Mike and I had ridden with my parents down to the old Ogden tabernacle to attend stake conference and were just returning. The weather – gray and cold and drizzly – made our winter wedding seem closer than ever. As we walked up the driveway, just ahead of my parents, Mike took off his suit jacket and put it around my shoulders. It was a small thing. We were only steps from the house. Later however my dad told me that watching the gesture had made him feel very emotional. “That is just the very thing I have done for you before,” he explained. “And watching Mike put that jacket over your shoulders felt symbolic to me – like passing off some mantle of authority.” It had been his duty as a father to care for me – to protect and keep me safe, and suddenly he realized he was passing that responsibility to another. There was no one, he told me, that he trusted more to take over that role for me.


I’d been married for a number of years – in fact, I had quiet a few of my own children now under my belt – when I was over visiting my parents one day. My dad told me about a dream he’d had just the night before. I was small in his dream. Just a child again. We were at church and I was up on the stand ready to give a little speaking part in the program. As I got closer to the podium however, I became terribly afraid. My dad caught my eyes in his dream. He locked his gaze with mine and nodded -- whispering encouragingly, “You can do it! You can do it!”, but little me started to cry. My dad immediately rushed to my side, knelt next to me and whispered the little speech into my ear. It was so real, he told me, that when he woke, he actually got choked up and teary missing that tiny little girl and missing taking care of her.


Just this summer, during one of my final visits with my dad, when his mind was fading in and out of this world, I walked into his hospital room, kissed his bald head, and sat next to him on his bed holding his hand. He smiled, but then seemed to become slightly confused and agitated. “Where’s Mike?” he asked me.

“He’s just at home,” I assured him. “He’s taking care of the kids so I can be here with you.”

He nodded, but then, still anxious, added, “Will he be here? To take care of you?”

I hadn’t been sure up to that point if he knew he was dying. I wasn’t even sure if I knew he was dying, but I knew it then, and I knew that part of him knew it as well; and that one of the last things he wanted to be sure of was that his tenth child would be taken care of – that she would be in good hands. For him, knowing I would be OK was equivalent to knowing I had Mike – the same man he’d turned over the duty of putting a jacket ‘round my shoulders to all those years ago.

Photo Dec 29, 10 47 24 AM


Marilyn said...

This post makes me want to cry. I keep thinking about your dad after that dream, wanting his little girl. But then...also how for YOU, moving beyond that stage and into life with your Mike was much better than anything your (even very happy) childhood had to offer. And it is good and right, but it also just seems sad, and hard. I love that your dad was reassured and calmed, in his last hours, at the thought of you being taken care of. I felt that from my dad very strongly before he died---just his relief that my mom was taken care of, that he had left her with things in order. And it's probably such a weight on any dad's mind! But it still makes me feel wistful to think of how your dad protected and provided for you so lovingly and so well---and then had to pass that responsibility on.

But then, maybe because he knew Mike was doing it so well, he was HAPPY to pass it on?

Anyway. Very sweet and tender.

Kara said...

I love families. ❤️❤️❤️

Nancy said...

Yes! I love what you said, Marilyn. Something about the contrast of protecting and providing and then letting go. I love thinking of these little moments though because they make me feel . . . I don't know, I guess like he isn't just off now somewhere so great that he's lost interest in me. They remind me that even when I've seen myself as grown and independent and cared for by Mike, he's still always keenly felt concern and responsibility for me. It makes me hope he still feels that now.

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