Father’s Day serves as one day out of the year where we appreciate those paternal caregivers even more so than we should every other day of the year. Fortunately, in America this equates to barbecue, cookouts, family dinners, and reflection on good times spent together with daddio. However, for some, whose fathers have passed away or are no longer a part of their lives, Father’s Day sparks feelings of sadness.
As I was leaving the house this past Sunday for church and to join my second family, my mother somberly asked me to pray for her. “What’s going on, madre?”, I asked. “This is just a hard time for me.” My maternal grandfather passed on July 4th, 2012, and so there are many holidays that my mother finds bring tides of sadness instead of the expected celebration. I replied, “Yeah, imagine how I feel.”
My father was arrested initially on July 21st, 2012. After a period of bond, followed by a brief eluding of authorities, he was incarcerated and has been so since then. Of course this was unexpected, and made for a serious distraction to my first year of college. I now found myself in a similar situation to my mother. Times which would usually bring celebration and joy were instead plagued by a feeling that something was missing. Father’s Day, of course, represented the worst of these holidays. A day to be spent with your father doesn’t fulfill its function if that is physically impossible.
“I know Wes. It’s hard sometimes.”
This brief moment made me ponder what I’d just said. I realized at that moment that I no longer found sadness on Father’s Day. I could no longer relate to my mother in that way.
“Actually mom, the past five years have brought some of the happiest Father’s Days in my life. I’ve been blessed.”
It would seem that this attitude downplays missing my father. Surely that isn’t the case. I was blessed to have a father that at the very least instilled in me a general philosophy of respect and hard work to achieve what I wanted in life. I owe a great deal of my character to my father’s guidance, and not having his support as I started my college career was terrifying.
However, as a matured both as a person and as a Christian, I found that the circumstances regarding my father was one of my greatest unexpected blessings. How? Throughout the years following my salvation and my father’s arrest, God placed extraordinary people in my life that I may have otherwise not appreciated as much as they deserved.
Even before finishing high school, I found that the Cross family took to me for whatever reason. I have still to this day not reasoned why they would do such a thing. To describe myself before graduating high school and accepting Christ, I was arrogant, brash, and generally ungodly. I was also friends with their son, Sam. Thank God my paths crossed with their family. To this day I credit my eventual salvation to an invite to a ball game in Bell County, KY on a Saturday. Following, I was invited to spend the night, but told that if I was going to be spending the night, I would need church clothes. There was no option in the matter. I obliged, and have been going to Trinity since. Four months following, I was saved, and that August I was baptized and joined the church formally. What a blessing. Since that time so many years ago, I have found that the Crosses have become my family. It’s a running joke that I’m like their seventh child, and I take that as a compliment. They have shown me unconditional love for five years, and Dave has taken to me as a son. I cannot overstate the godly advice he has given me, or the help that he’s provided any time I needed it. Looking back, I consider it a miracle that I found myself a part of that family. I also realize that had it not been for the situation with my father, I may not have recognized just what a miracle this was.
Dave did wonders in teaching me to grow from a brash high schooler to a godly young man. He served as my mentor as a young professional and in Christ, a role that my father, despite his continual support, could not fill as a person who was generally anti-religious, much like I was before my salvation. Over the years, I have found that my character has morphed to emulate, in some ways, Dave’s. What a blessing. When I began working in the ED to gain experience prior to my application to medical school, I found that my paths crossed with another person to whom I owe a great deal of my character.
Dr. Robbins remains one of the most remarkable individuals I have had the privilege of meeting. A generally joyful person, it seems he always an applicable story or witty comment to add to a situation. Often times, he will ask, “Do you know what the Bible says about [insert situation here]?” Often times, I have no idea. And so, he quotes the scripture and then states that he thought I was a biblical scholar. Obviously not. Over the past year and a half, I have spent over 2500 hours in the ED, and I reckon that about 1200 of these have been spent listening to Dr. Robbins explain cases and use words to which I was previously ignorant of their existence. Apart from these vocabulary additions, I’ve found that over time I have learned an immense amount of medical knowledge from Dr. Robbins, and an even larger amount of practical knowledge. I’ve learned proper suture technique one day, and how to saw a cedar log, clean it, and turn it into a gate the next. I’ve gone from completing charts for Dr. Robbins one day to helping build a fence the next. Again, I worry that had it not been for the situation with my dad, I would never have appreciated these things. Now, I consider them some of my most precious memories. On top of that, I consider my acceptance into medical school and eventual awarding of a merit scholarship significantly due to my relationship with Dr. Robbins. Apart from a recommendation, he helped to teach me about medicine, scripture, humility, humor, and practical skills, which I feel were invaluable. Again, our crossing paths registers in my mind as a miracle.
So, on Father’s Day, I find myself extremely blessed. I remain able to speak to my father over the phone, and I feel sorry that he can’t be here to celebrate. But, I now find that over the last five years I have gained new reasons to celebrate. God has given me tremendous father figures that have helped me in more ways than I could ever deserve. I consider this day as an annual reminder that while sometimes our lives take unexpected turns and present us with unexpected obstacles or difficulties, our Heavenly Father is faithful to us. In some cases, He provides us with patience and contentment to overcome our challenges. In others, He sends special people to help us through our hardships. In my case, I felt that I’d lost my father. At the moment, it has been over four years since I’ve seen him in person. However, God gave me two men to whom I owe more than I could ever repay, and I count my initial hardship responsible for my ability to appreciate that.
I made a joke to Dave on Sunday that I owed him more than a card for all that he’s done for me over the past few years, but that I wouldn’t be a broke medical student forever. I hope that one day I am able to repay the kindness that both he and Dr. Robbins have shown me. For now, I simply remind them that I am thankful for them, their kindness, their wisdom, and their instruction, because I honestly have no idea where I would be were it not for them. And this truth led me to realize that I am tremendously blessed on Father’s Day.