Dixie Lullaby

I've been thinking a lot about my dad lately. In general, there are very few days that he doesn't cross my mind, even though he's been gone for nearly four years. Most days, something reminds me of him, or one of the kids asks a question about him, which causes me to take a trip down memory lane. I've heard no matter what, the holidays are always particularly difficult for those who have lost a loved one. I don't know exactly why that's the case for me. I didn't necessarily spend many holidays with my dad that I remember. In fact, after 22 years of overlapping life between the two of us, I only have distinct memories of two different holiday seasons. The time that I did spend with my dad happened mostly during the summer, so it would make more logical sense for me to reminisce then. But really, when are my emotions and my cognitive self synchronized? Rarely, if ever. So during the holiday season, I make cherry popovers, to remember him. I reflect on the previous year, and wonder what he would have been proud of, and what he would have wished I did differently. I wonder what life lessons he would have liked to share with me, and which of my personality traits came straight from him.

As the day of his death approaches, I consider his last days, his restful hours, and even his last moments. I wonder what it felt like for him to leave this world, and enter the next. I consider his views on the world and our mortality, and then I put them aside. I remember seeing his cold grey body, hardened, in clothes that he would have hated, lying in the funeral home. I remember sobbing with my sister, gripping her hand so tightly. I think about how guilty I felt over enjoying the company of my family in a time of such grief, and taps playing, and placing a flower in a deep hole in the ground.

But for every one of the thoughts I have about his death, I have five about his life. I think about how he must have felt as a child, the oldest of five, with my grandmother as his mother. I wonder if he knew as a child how amazingly blessed he was to be raised by her, or if he learned that later in life. I remember his work ethic, and wonder where it came from. I remember his really big hands, and imagine all of the places, surfaces, and workspaces they've been. I consider his military career, how he ended it, just to take it back up. But the best thing about remembering my dad is that I always end back up at love.

When I was growing up, I was embarrassed to have divorced parents. But as a teenager, anything that makes you slightly different than your best friend is embarrassing, right? I never really got why my mom and dad couldn't love "right." As I've gotten older, I more understand that they both loved, and just the right way. They both loved more than most, and feared less than others. My dad was married several times. I seriously don't even have a count. That would embarrass any teenager right. As a very young adult, I considered this to be one of his major faults. I saw that he never stuck with a marriage when it got hard. It's funny how time changes everything, isn't it? Now I don't see his multiple marriages as failures so much, but more as his inability to contain his love. My dad loved relentlessly. He may not have known how to make a marriage work, and his past may have precluded him from maintaining all the structural work that a marriage requires, but he loved without ceasing. It was the one thing he always did, and always did well. I think he believed in the eternal redemptive power of love too. He never gave up hope that one day he would get it right. So while some may see my dad as the ultimate ladies' man, that would be a gross understatement. He was the ultimate man, period.

I've been attempting to put together his past in patches and other little keepsakes. I often feel so inferior for not knowing where all of these little pieces of his life fit. But tonight I heard Pat Green's song, "Dixie Lullaby," which I haven't heard in a long time. It reminded me of how unimportant all of those little things are, but how much more it means to pass down that love, and that love of family that my father gave to me. So tonight, I sang my kids their very own dixie lullaby, and danced with them in the living room.

And on the day that God took away one of the most important men in my life four years ago, this year, He is delivering my husband from a certain Hell of its own. I believe that's just one more example of how God can make anything good. I am humbled to serve such an amazing, thoughtful God. I love how, while He's taking care of the entire world, He is an individual God for me, and I am thankful for the time he gave me to learn from my father.

If you can't use the sound for whatever reason, here are the lyrics.
Here you'll find the everyday musings of life, as I see them, which is probably not the same as you see them... Mother, baker, student, wife and woman, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes in conflict. Enjoy!
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