Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's What You DON'T Do....

It was Arbor Day in 1975.

With shovel in hand, my dad & I planted what would end up being the only thing that would ever take root & grow in our relationship.

And over the next few years, I watched that tree, rooted in rich soil….continue to grow from just barely a seedling into something worthy of respect.


It was one of the only things that I ever saw that reaped reward from my father’s hands.

He was committed to everything but the one thing that he should have been. 
    Other relationships.

It’s not that he didn’t love me.  He loved me with the heart he had allowed himself to have.  He gave as much love to me as he knew how to give.  This reasoning allows me forgiveness!

He was the dad that he THOUGHT he needed to be.  And if you asked him today, he would tell you that he did what he thought was right. 

He thought it would be ok to, without discussion, give my dog away when I was 7.
He thought it would be a good idea to give more attention to his ‘step’ daughter than to me because he lived with her full time.
He thought it was a good idea to step away from our relationship when I was 12 and not be heard from again until I was 16.

He was financially responsible.  That, I am grateful for, on many levels.  He at least extended the courtesy of his financial blessings until I was out of college.   

And he finally did show up!  But only for a fleeting moment to watch me graduate.  To see what he had ‘accomplished’ with his money.  To celebrate HIS achievement.

He published his first book when I was in middle school.  It was a history book on Shenandoah County in Virginia.  Nothing that would win him the Pulitzer Prize but it was a big accomplishment nonetheless. 

The first thing I did when he gave me a copy was look inside the front cover to see who he dedicated his book to.  And there it was, right there in plain view, a short note to me that was typed on a sticky label, covering up who he really dedicated it to. 

I will never forget that. 

Our relationship wasn’t even worthy enough for permanent ink.  The irony, is that it never was.  We were never meant to endure a lifetime together. 

It was in these moments that I finally learned that people are watching what you do so much more closely than you think.  And then there are those times, when what you DON’T do, makes the statement!

I never found out who he dedicated the book to.   It really doesn’t matter.  The point is, it wasn’t to me.

I’m not sure what ever happened to that tree on his property that we planted.  I’m sure it’s still there.  Being taken care of by someone else.  Providing a beautiful & tranquil setting for others to take pleasure in.

I’m not sure what happened to my father either.  Time has allowed for that void to be filled 20 times over.  My mom’s love, friendship, marriage, my children, a great step-dad, my faith, countless happy memories ….LOVE has come along to bridge the gap & allow me the beauty of retrospective redemption.

Have you ever NOT done something that you wish you had?


  1. Gulp. Well, that made me think! Thanks for the transparency to share that. I too remember things my parents didn't do, and sigh, it still hurts. Maybe that's b/c my heart feels something about it in a new way since I have my own kids now and hate to hurt them.
    One thing I didn't do was go and talk to my grandma in the hospital before she died. I was afraid to talk to her about Jesus with my non-believing family around. I wish I could go back and do it differently.
    But hopefully, I'm learning...2 Christmases ago, my sister was alone in CA for Christmas and kinda down. No one else in the family seemed to care, but she was on my heart, so I bought a plane ticket at 10:30 am the day after Christmas and was on a plane by 2 pm. My mom told me not to go and just surprise her, sigh... but it was worth it and I'm glad I went for relationship and putting someone else's heart above practicality, issues, etc. Otherwise, it would have been something I didn't do, and would have missed out on that opportunity to make a difference to my sister. I will remember that time and I hope my sister will too.
    I'm praying to be able to hear God tell me what to do and give me the courage to do it so that I don't regret what I didn't do.

  2. Well, I know I am a little late, but am so glad I sat down to take the time to read this. Thank you so much for sharing such intimate parts of your life. There are a lot of things I am struggling with concerning unforgiveness towards my mother for things she has not done and wrong things she continues to do to hurt me and my family. As Kristin has stated, she now struggles with the worry she is going to hurt her children, I know it is a constant battle in my mind of whether I am doing enough.
    I believe the thing I now need to do is to let go of some of those things I hold onto with my mother. It was a great message at church today and it was great to read this you have shared. Thanks!!!