“One Day At A Time,” my mug tells me, steaming with licorice tea. My daughter, Emily gave me that mug shortly after my dad took his leave.
Dad died four weeks ago, a mere 91 years old. Letting go of him, was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. Holding his hand all these years has given me such comfort, joy, and quiet confidence, a hallmark of his own beloved character.
I loved his hands so much. They were an exquisite demonstration of his skilled craftsmanship – slightly and stiffly curved from all the years of carefully clenching crystal goblets as he held them to the spinning stone wheel to embellish with his designs. I am a glasscutter’s daughter.
They were the hands of a farmer gone gardener. After leaving the farm and moving to the big city, his garden took up a good deal of our tiny back yard in South Minneapolis, leaving us just enough room to play catch with him. The fruit of his garden graced our kitchen table throughout the year and kept Mom busy canning well into fall.
His hands patiently held so many small hands. He always had time to totter around the backyard with his grandchildren, watching butterflies, stuffing tiny mouths with handfuls of raspberries, and demonstrating to little ones how to plant potatoes. I am a farmer’s daughter.
Several months ago, I asked my dad, failing as he was, what in the world I was ever going to do without him. He answered as he always did with any important subject: wisely and succinctly. “You’ll take it one day at a time.”
“Okay,” I said to him, tears streaming down my face. “That’s what I’ll do, Dad.” That was his assignment for me, and I am working to obey him. How easy he made it to be obedient. Who in their right mind would ever want to disappoint such a genuinely nice guy? For me, he solved the mystery of the meaning of the fear of the Lord. That’s it.
Mom taught us the same thing. When I’d be worried about something coming up in a tomorrow, I’d hear her quote from the kitchen, fingers coated with bread dough, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, Jill!” Huh? Finally I got it.
One day at a time. That’s my goal today. Sometimes one moment at a time – until I get to see him again. Swell day, that will be.
Thanks, Emily, for my favorite mug.
I am so glad I have you, dearest of all dads, closer than a brother are you, and flawless. Help me to love you, fear you, and walk with you One Day At A Time.