According to my mom, I was the apple of Daddy’s eye. This photograph from my third birthday assuredly bears that out, don’t you think? I have to depend largely on what Mom told me and the few photos I have of him and me together because I don’t have many first-hand memories of him.
My father worked as the manager of the Concordia-Argonaut, which at that time was an exclusive men’s club in San Francisco. (It still maintains private membership, but it now admits women.) He frequently worked evenings and weekends, though probably not as frequently as it seems to me. All the same, I have very few memories, and Mom seldom told us much about him.
I praise the Lord that, despite knowing very little about Daddy, I have never doubted his love for me. Everything else about him seems as wispy as the smoke from his ever-present cigarettes, making it difficult for me to figure out his influence on my life. I have an even harder time determining what, if any, role he played in my understanding of the Lord.
My sister and I both remember going to church with Mom while Daddy stayed home to work on the yard. We’ve both been puzzled, therefore, to learn that he served as church treasurer. Well, yeah…he was a CPA and taught accounting at City College of San Francisco, so he definitely had the skills to be church treasurer. It just makes me question the validity of my other memories of him. It also causes me to wonder what he may have taught me about Christianity.
Did Daddy’s September 26, 1963 death, just four days prior to my tenth birthday, affect my spiritual development? I’ve been asking myself that question this week, but I can’t come up with a nice, neat answer.
From a writer’s standpoint, it would be handy if I could say that his death left a huge void that caused me to search for solace in God the Father. Perhaps it did, but I have no such recollection. And even if I did, could I trust such a memory, given my inaccurate memories of his church involvements? Rather than claiming a narrative that might make for a tighter plot line, I prefer to be honest and say that I simply don’t know.
Daddy’s death certainly serves as a watershed moment in my childhood, though not exactly as you might imagine. Keep in mind that I turned ten that very week. Did my heightened awareness of life come from losing my father or simply from entering a new decade in life? There’s really no answer. That next few years saw so much upheaval, beginning with President Kennedy’s assassination two months after Daddy died, that it’s difficult to say anything more than that Daddy’s death defines a turning point in my life.
But amid all the questions and mystery connected with my daddy, I have absolute certainty that he loved me. As a result, I’ve never struggled to see God as a loving Father. Maybe that’s all I need to know.