I still remember the day when I could barely hold the orange pencil that I carried over to my father. After taking a small carving knife from the yellow drawer in the kitchen, he sat in his chair at the red arborite table where he whittled the pencil and told a story from his past. His words captivated my soul while my body shook with laughter.
“Haven’t you ever been embarrassed, Dad?” I asked, with wide-eyed wonderment while I giggled behind my little hand.
“Only once,” he said blushing, “in grade two, when I asked a girl something I shouldn’t have…” His strong hands moved effortlessly with the wood while the story came to life. “Never worry about tomorrow,” he said placing the sharpened pencil in my hand, “just laugh about today. God will take care of the rest.”
I’ll always remember how the soft pink eraser smelled like the rubber soles of his shiny black shoes, and the freshly sharpened wood smelled like the dust of his workshop.
Centered in the long hallway of that house stood a cupboard, where inside lay a stack of fresh white paper. Each sheet held a life of it’s own within it’s magical fibers. That night, before resting my head on the white pillowcase, I waved my magic pencil over the canvas, bringing the paper to life with each mark I made.
Pictures of beautiful women in long flowing gowns, with honey colored hair and raspberry cheeks, filled the papers over time, reflecting my dreams of the future and what it would hold.
I longed for the day when I’d gallop away on a white horse with a handsome man who would take me far away to his palace. There we would embrace the joy of our children, until the time came to tuck them into bed.
Several years later, I found myself standing under a stream of urine at 3 am. It sprayed from the top bunk from which my daughter dangled—half in and half out of a dream world. While I sputtered and screamed and searched for the light switch, Madison made her way down the ladder. Like a drunken cat running from a bath, she left the room and locked herself in the bathroom.
It took me a while to coax her to open the door, but finally she did—wet and cold and confused. After I put clean pajamas on her and wiped up the floor, I held her in my arms for one more hug.
“I’m sorry, Mamma, she whispered, with her face buried into my chest.
Lowering my head closer to hers, I said, “Honey, you didn’t do anything wrong.” And then I held her closer and longer than I usually did, wishing I hadn’t sputtered and screamed like I had.
“I made a mess,” she cried. I felt the tension in her shoulders while she quietly sobbed.
I held her closer until she relaxed. “We all have accidents,” I assured her, “Come on, time for bed.”
When I stood outside her room that night with urine dripping from my honey colored hair, I realized that sometimes God’s plan is different than ours. With each glimpse that I get of His plan unfolding in the life of my family, I see so much more than I planned for myself.
Inspired by my father’s humor and zest for life, I continue to make my mark on the world, bringing my own words to life in the stories I write.
Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor last week, and you know what? He’s not worried one bit about tomorrow, and he’s still laughing about today, because as he puts it, “God will take care of the rest.” I don’t think I’ve ever met a person with more zest for life than he.
Please keep him in your prayers as we face the weeks and months ahead.
Update: Today he was tested and diagnosed with four brain tumors and lung cancer. He is in great spirits, and ask that prayers be only for God’s will to be done.