Daddio, Daddy Jones, Trusty,
Oh how time flies when you’re within its constraints. Six and a half years have passed since I last hugged you, bopped your head, or asked you to stand by your bed so I could ram my shoulder into your stomach and “sack the quarterback”. Seven Father’s Days have come and gone without being able to give you a Far Side desk calendar or a nose trimmer or a cartoon tie or some other “useful” gift you so graciously accepted. So much time has come and gone.
Sometimes I still can’t believe you’re no longer here. Someone that was so faithful to always be there isn’t easy to part with.
You were always there, dad. Every track meet and road race you were at the sideline cheering me on with honey sticks in hand for energy and Aspercreme in your back pocket to rub down my chicken-legs after I crossed the finish line. Every basketball game you were in the stands videoing such important middle school footage and ever-so-kindly putting mistaken refs in their place. Every REI garage sale you were first in line and coming home with hoards of things you thought I might like. (I still have quite the stash today, dad. Those random gifts still come in handy.) If I ever vaguely mentioned I was interested in some hobby or that a friend of mine liked cycling or snowshoeing or collecting gum wrappers, there you were with gifts in hand, freely giving from the “Daddy Garts” sports store conveniently located in your garage.
You always put others first. Always. You would make sure our fishing poles were always set up on those all-night trips to the pier. (I’m fairly certain your line never even got in the water because you were always too busy helping me with snags or teaching me how to put the shrimp on the hook.) You shelved your love of surfing and gladly opted to wade in the water beside me as you pushed me into the wave, knowing full well that my scrawny arms could never paddle into that 6-inch swell. You would be up at the crack of dawn making the princess (me) her must-have snowboarding trip breakfast (pancakes). You would always make sure us kids made it to church every Sunday, something I will ever be grateful for. You would commute three hours roundtrip to work every day, come home, and make us dinner with a smile on your face, even if that dinner was your tuna/mac/pea combo thing. You were selfless, dad, utterly selfless, utterly reliable, and utterly trustworthy.
I don’t remember exactly when Trusty came into my life, maybe at age four or five. You were always there with the most dependable horseback rides, so my little brain opted to forever nickname you Trusty. Every night before bed, mom and I would call you from the stables. You’d clip clop over to me and pull me up into the imaginary saddle on your back. I’d fling my arms around your neck and you’d whisk me off to bed. You’d clip clop down the cobblestones in our living room, splash through the stream in our hallway, and slurp up a drink of water before squishing through the muddy terrain just shy of my room. Without fail, you’d get distracted by some apple tree and eat one along the way before dropping me off at my twin-bed destination for a good night’s sleep. You signed my birthday cards with hoof prints and ponds and fences to leap over. You left sticky notes on the mirror with horseshoes as a signature. If you ever acted out, I made sure to put you in your place by telling you I would send you to the glue factory if you didn’t shape up! I’ve never heard anyone impersonate a panic-stricken horse’s neigh like you!
For years you carried me. You were Trusty and even now it makes more sense as to why.
As I think back to a private conversation you and I had in your nursing facility just weeks before you left, I distinctly remember the remorse in your eyes. You choked out the words and drenched them in tears. You told me how bad it hurt to think you wouldn’t see me grow old, that you would never have the opportunity to walk me down the aisle. You cradled an imaginary child in your arms and cried at the thought of never being able to hold my babies. One thing was certain to me on that day, the pain of abandoning your little girl in life was more excruciating than the pain of the cancer eating at your body. You had put your all into being there for me. You were my Trusty, that faithful old horse. When you died, who would make sure I was okay?
Dad, I love you. I may have lost you for a little while, but rest assured, for this time while I no longer have you or mom here on earth, I am not at a loss. I am not lost. I am okay. It is unfathomable just how faithful God has been to take care of me.
A few months ago, I couldn’t sleep. My heart was aching for more of God, my Father, in my life. One thing I have learned through the pain of losing both parents is if I have more of Him, all else will be okay. All else will be okay. That night, in that moment of desperation, I reached my arms up in the air, crying as I laid in my bed as if to grab hold of the Dad I needed. I was craving to know my Father more. With a tinge of frustration, I said, “Show me more of you, God.” Suddenly and gently, an image of you popped into my head.
I was stunned and a bit puzzled. A few seconds passed and the lightbulb switched on. God whispered to me about you, about Trusty of all things. He chose to use you as an example of His love. Over six years have passed and I’m just now seeing how well you pointed me to the Father by your lifestyle.
You were so trustworthy, and yet it was just a shadow of the most Trustworthy One.
You took such joy and pride in every interest of my heart, and yet that was just a mere glimpse into the fondness He has for me.
You thoroughly delighted in giving good gifts to me, and yet that was a simple taste of His delight in meeting my every need.
I know the Father more because of you. I know Him! You couldn’t have given me a more thoughtful, everlasting gift if you tried. And God couldn’t have given me a more thoughtful gift in you, with every horseback ride, with every appearance at my sporting events, with every outing to the mountains. He knew what I needed in a father, and He knew you would be the best way to fulfill that need. Thank you, dad, thank you.
For years you carried me. You still do. You are Trusty.