Jeff and I and the boys are back in Idaho, helping Mom transition to her new life. When we arrived, I very nearly went straight to Daddy's closet and buried my face in his clothes. I revisit his closet every day. The best part is that I found a shirt he put on and hung back up without washing. Really not the same thing as hugging him, but inhaling his scent makes the memory of his last hug very fresh in my mind.
My first task has been to sort through photos. I put all my parents' photos in albums in 2003, but yet to be filed are all recent photos, and all the photos my dad inherited when his mom died, which span 100 years. Over the past couple of days, I've handled my dad's entire life in pictures. I even found a lock of his baby hair. And did you know he smiled for the first time when he was just two weeks old? And he smiled constantly by the time he was a month old? This written notation in his baby book is accompanied by photos of a very, very smiley little baby. That was Dad. He had the best smile.
Dad was really good about labeling his stuff. He wrote "T. Baker" with a sharpie on all of his tools, books, etc. In many cases, he also included his phone number or, before digital identity theft was as much of an issue, his social security number. My brother gave a drill to our uncle that had dad's name and social security number etched into it.
Dad's office is still just how he left it. He covered the wall and shelves around his computer with sayings on 3x5 cards and little strips of paper.
"Weary yet pursuing. Judges 8:4 - Galatians 6:9."
"True greatness consists in being great in the little things."
"If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."
"The brave do not live forever. The cautious do not live at all."
Sitting at his computer and looking around, I can see his very obvious lingering presence. What he thought, how he felt, what he struggled with, what he longed for. I'm going to put all of his notes in a scrapbook.
I never realized before how much my brothers look and sound like Dad. Each of them resemble him uniquely. I can see him in Aaron's easy hospitality to all, his genius ability to never forget a face or a name, the way he puts people at ease. I can hear Dad in Tony's voice and see him in Tony's stalwart commitment to always do what he knows to be right. I can watch Dad in Ben's mannerisms and expressions, which are very nearly identical to his own. And I can see Dad in Seth's passion for working with wood, and in his dedication to the infallibility of Scripture. And all four of my brothers have my daddy's hands. I loved his hands so much.
I also see Dad in my sister. In her longing for a better life for herself and her children, in her passion for words, in her love affair with the great outdoors. And I see Dad in me. In my complete lack of interest in anyone else's opinion, in my propensity to want to "write them a letter!" to anyone I'm determined must hear my opinion, in my love of hymnody and harmony.
All six of Dad's children have his laugh.
Everywhere I go, I see Dad. Clearly, he lived and walked among us. And clearly, he left his mark.
Another Man clearly lived and walked among us and clearly left His mark. I see Him in the mountains He formed. I hear Him in the crash of the ocean waves. I inhale His aroma after every cleansing rainfall. I savor a taste of Him in a house filled with worship. I feel His presence in the incomprehensible peace He has washed over me in these past few weeks.
I see Him in the smiles of His children. I watch Him at work when hearts are softened and relationships are restored. I find Him when I praise. I am saturated by Him when I read my Bible. I see proof of His existence in every archaeological dig ever documented. I see His power displayed in nature and in the hearts of people.
But mostly, I see His grace. The grace that ushered my dad into paradise. The grace that allows my life to be rich with friendship and love despite my flaws. The grace that gave me my husband and my sons, even though I don't deserve them. The grace that whispers forgiveness and acceptance to me as it picks me up every time I fall down. The grace that redeemed my life from the pit and set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm. The grace that has left an indelible mark on my entire existence. The grace that cost Jesus Christ His life, and gave me mine.
Seeing Dad everywhere reminds me that if I pay attention, I also see God everywhere. And as my Uncle Nate says, I thank the Lord and Tim for that.