A FATHER’S BLESSING By Lori A Alicea

“Bless me father.”
“Oh, that you would bless me.”
dad and dogMy heart’s silent prayer that summer of 2016 as my father lay helpless from the ravages of cancer, our families imminent sign that dad was weeks from passing away.

I longed a Father’s Blessing.

I couldn’t wrap my expectation in a box or articulate into words what I needed when asking God for a blessing through my earthly father before he departed for eternity.

Affirmation?  Love?  Acceptance?

Only God, the one who knows the intimate details of my life could answer a little girl’s deep desire for a Father’s Blessing, when all grown up now, I hadn’t a clue.

What I needed was something to hold onto, a moment that left an exclamation point on our relationship, when all my life was defined by so many question marks.

This longing of my mine is best portrayed in a beautiful scene in the bible where (dad) Jacob on his deathbed, gathers twelve sons around him to impart a Father’s Blessing.  I imagine dad making his way around the circle of sons, tears flowing in the moment with each anxiously waiting their turn while holding out their cup to receive a blessing poured from a father’s heart.

Then Jacob sent for his sons. He said, “Gather around me….  Genesis 49:1

28….That’s what their father said to them when he blessed them. He gave each one the blessing that was just right for him.  Genesis 49:28 NIV

Jacob’s blessing to his son Joseph is my ultimate favorite:

25 Joseph, your father’s God helps you.
The Mighty God blesses you.
He gives you blessings from the sky above.
He gives you blessings from the deep springs below.
He blesses you with children and with a mother’s milk.
26 Your father’s blessings are great.
They are greater than the blessings from the age-old mountains.
They are greater than the gifts from the ancient hills.
Let all those blessings rest on the head of Joseph.
Let them rest on the head of the one who is prince among his brothers.  Genesis 49:25-26 NIV

To understand my relationship with dad, it means going back years when we both worked at the same manufacturing plant; Dad for thirty-plus years, me, a consultant employed for special projects as an application software developer.
dads-work1.jpgDressed in steel-toe shoes, hard hats and protective eye-ware, dad and I ran into each other inside the steel-making plant from time to time.  Dad usually driving a cart would allow me to hitchhike wherever I needed to go.  Every so often I’d surprise dad and have lunch with him at his office.  Dad made me laugh with his old fashioned pail version of a lunchbox.
IMG_3716Dad, who never graduated high school, forever impressed me with his “work ethics of excellence”.  Dad was known for this standard and maintained a reputation because of it.

One afternoon a production unit operator and I spent a few hours together for a time study I was conducting.  Caught off guard, the door of the office opened and in walked my father; although I didn’t address him as such.  Dad just wanted to say hello to both of us and left as quickly as he came.

During our conversation the production unit operator revealed that dad was his locker neighbor of over thirty years.  The operator raved over dad as if they were brothers and I joined in on his praises.

As I opened the door to leave the operator’s office that afternoon, he stopped me in my tracks with a question.  The locker neighbor of my dad’s for thirty years asked me, “And how do you know Jimmy?”  For which I answered with excitement, “Jimmy’s my father!”

The man’s dumbfounded reply slashed my heart on contact with his dagger-edged words,
“Jimmy’s got kids?”

34 For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34 NKJV

Or emptiness thereof.

Dad never mentioned me or the others.
Dad never pulled out his wallet of pictures and share our childhood days, graduations, weddings, babies and achievements for thirty plus years.
His emptiness for words said a lot.

Dad never abandoned his six kids though and that does say a lot.  Dad worked hard and provided well with his two jobs; one at the mill and the other a mechanic at home.  Our cupboards were full and we as a family never lacked.
Dad lived out only what he knew; to work hard.
What dad didn’t know though that while appreciative of his hand, I desperately wanted his time and his heart instead.

Growing up, I never knew if I was pretty to dad.
Maybe I was his princess or little girl but was unaware as he never referred to me by those endearments.

Dad drew from a dry well and couldn’t quench my thirst for love and affirmation.  I had enough grace for dad though and his “lack to see me” when I questioned in secret, “What affirmations were stolen from a little boy’s life who one day grew up and became my father?”

Hence, the reason for my silent prayer of 2016 to the Lord while keeping vigil at my father’s bedside,

“Bless me father.”
“Oh, that you would bless me.”
dads house 4Visiting dad at home for what would be my last day to see him alive and heartbroken over dad’s visible frailty and protruding bones evident from the sagging T-shirt two sizes too big now, I began to lose hope of a Father’s Blessing.  But unbeknownst to me, a blessing gift is about to be unwrapped.

There’s one fact I’m certain about God my heavenly father, he loves his little girls.  No matter her age, weight, social status, marital status, degrees or lack thereof, etc.,
God is smitten with his girls.

God smitten with “this little girl” heard my prayer that summer and answered me days before my father’s death in a small but impactful way; not at my father’s bedside, but his kitchen table instead.

God’s choice of dad’s kitchen table for a Father’s Blessing replayed years of my fondest memories as at this table dad handed out our Christmas gifts each holiday season.  I loved that my heavenly father chose this memory backdrop and used the same chair dad sat in for years during our Christmas exchanges to bless me.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  Isaiah 55:8 NKJV
xmas at dads
Seated around the table were me and my dad, my step-sister and dad’s caregiver.  Just having small talk, dad interrupted and asked his caregiver to help him up and assist dad to his room.  Back in his seat, dad handed me a framed letter and asked,
“Would you please read this to me?”

Not a crier by nature, I fought to compose myself when dad asked me to read a Father’s Day letter I wrote a year ago to those seated at the table.  Always drawing a blank when buying dad’s gifts, that Father’s Day I felt moved from God to honor my dad’s military service; a conversation I’m sad to say we never had; but I never asked either.

Accompanied with a flag that Father’s Day, I never seen dad so emotional.

We are told by God to give Honor to whom honor is due.  (Romans 13:7)
Honor was due my father; an accumulation of years due.

These same framed words dad handed them back and asked me to read their inscription at his funeral.
IMG_3713Happy Father’s Day

Dear Dad,

For 54 years I have celebrated you as my dad and all that you have sacrificed and contributed to my life.  You have been a great provider.  You have protected me when I have needed you to.  You are always a phone call away.  And you have been a friend throughout the years.

 But the one attribute of my father that I have not celebrated until today is your service in the military.  Until I became a mom with a son serving in the military, did I fully appreciate the sacrifices of a member in the military.

 I am sad to say I know nothing about your time in the navy, but that’s because I never asked.  But I do know you actively served, and for that, I salute you today and thank you for

SERVING YOUR COUNTRY FOR OUR FREEDOM.

I am giving you this gift as my way of saying thank you for your service.

 Love, Lori and David

 You may be wondering, “Is that it!  Is that your Father’s Blessing?”

The true Father’s Blessing revealed itself during the packing up of dad’s house following his death.

Sadly dad “said a lot” again when we kids realized there wasn’t a single picture, card or memento saved and left behind of dad’s six children, living room full of grand-children and great-grand-children.  Not one.

Except the Father’s Day letter of mine that dad framed with his hands and hung in the entrance of his room.

I won’t add to dad’s heart as his heart was a locked door for most of our relationship.  But a Father’s Day present became a Father’s Day Blessing that summer of 2016.

An added bonus discovered deep in my father’s attic was his old fashioned lunch pail, a true treasure I kept to remind myself of what a “standard of excellence” really looks like.
IMG_3716Dad was buried with Military Honors.
military 3

 

 

 

“Taps” riveted from the bugle piercing each soul and echoing in full glory for those in attendance.
military 9I sensed the emotion and recollection of the Gun Salute through the tears of military veterans jolted from each pull of the trigger.
military-111.jpg

A moment to remember when my brother received his father’s flag; our father’s wish to pass his torch to the next generation.
military 13In death our father received the military honor due him in life.
military 15I realize now and am more intimately aware of a heavenly Father’s Blessing when I sleep and when I slumber.
During the years that an earthly father “didn’t see” his little girl;
a heavenly father couldn’t take His eyes off of her.

28If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?  Luke 12:28 Message

You’re Always In His View
By Lori A. Alicea
yellow flowersWith all the flowers in full bloom,
Amid a warm spring day.
You might believe the Father’s eyes,
Would never look your way.

But take delight Oh lovely one,
You’re always in His view.
You take away His very breath,
He kneels to look at you.

Published by

applesofgoldencouragement

Author Lori A Alicea and her beloved husband David of 24 years thank you for sharing a moment of your day with them at Apples of Gold Encouragement. It is their desire you experience their heart for family, love, encouragement and God through the words God has put on Lori’s heart to write. They are hopeful you discover a few treasures of encouragement, realizing we all share common threads in our lives. Be blessed in your day.

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