I’m not always good, Daddy
She was tiny and petite for her five years of age. Her long, blond hair made ringlets around her face and her deep blue eyes were large with long lashes. Her face danced with animation and was full of laughter and life.
“Hurry,” mommy said. “We’ve got to be at the airport. We don’t want to miss Daddy’s plane.”
She pulled on her shoes and tried desperately to understand all the commotion. Mommy had told her Daddy had been fighting in the war. And she had looked intently at night at the pictures her mom had showed her. She knew who he was but had a hard time really remembering or even understanding his role in her life. She just couldn’t quite grasp the man that was coming home.
It had been some eighteen months since her Daddy had shipped out to Iraq to fight in the war. When she had turned five he had acknowledged her birthday with a phone call but he had been gone a long time in her way of thinking and a voice on the other end of a phone line didn’t make a connection for her to fully understand who and what her daddy was all about.
“Come on, baby,” mommy said. “It’s time to go.” She hurried with her mother to the car and carried a small laminated photo of her father in her tiny hand. In actuality the photo was more real for her than the man she was going to meet. How do you relate to someone so far away? How do you know that person and what they are about?
“I hope Daddy loves me,” she said as her mom buckled her in the safety car seat.
“Daddy is going to be so glad to see you,” her mom said excitedly. “I know he will.”
The trip to the air terminal went quickly. They stopped to pick up Nana and Papa and Aunt Louisa. It seemed that everyone was so excited about Daddy coming home. She was caught up in the excitement of the moment but in her own childish way couldn’t quite fathom what the entire hullabaloo was about. She clutched the laminated picture and chattered to it as if it were real. The adults in the party were excited and their anticipation was something she shared although it was hardly understandable. Nana kept telling her that Daddy was going to be so surprised to see her and be amazed at how she had grown.
Finally after what seemed hours stuck in the car seat they arrived at the airport. Mommy seemed so nervous and one time she thought she saw a tear slip from her eye. She wondered why mommy would have tears if she were so glad for Daddy to come home. They all made their way to the terminal tunnel where the plane would be landing. She was glad that sometimes Papa carried her because she couldn’t see much except people’s legs and their movement. Someday, she vowed, I’ll be taller.
“I’m growing but I’m going to be bigger some day,” she thought.
People milled around the terminal tunnel and mommy and Aunt Louisa and Nana chatted about different things. She looked out the huge glass windows and watched the planes landing. She pressed her nose against the glass and held her laminated picture up so it could see the planes also. Lots of planes landed and departed and still it seemed like it was just a festive occasion for the family to visit and get together. It was kind of like taking in the park on Sunday.
Suddenly Aunt Louisa let out a scream and everyone turned in her direction.
“I think he’s coming up the tunnel,” Louisa screeched. “Yes, he’s headed this way.”
She paused a minute and looked but all she could see were people. She couldn’t even see the tunnel Aunt Louisa was talking about. Suddenly Papa scooped her up in his arms and held her.
“Here, baby,” he said. “Let’s watch for Daddy.”
She watched and only saw more people. Her hand squeezed the laminated photo and she strained hard to see a face that matched the one in her hand.
Finally, what she did see was mommy running and crying as the soldier in khaki camouflaged tans approached. He suddenly dropped his bag and ran to meet mommy. Her eyes got larger and she held Papa even tighter around the neck.
“Is that my Daddy?” she asked Papa. “Is that why mommy is crying?”
She suddenly realized Papa had tears too. Maybe she should cry? Papa made his way to meet the man also. She was briefly smashed as Papa and the soldier hugged and cried. Then her daddy took her in his arms and hugged her close. He smelled of leather and shaving lotion and somewhere in her mind it was a smell she vaguely remembered. She felt the slight brush of the roughness of his face as he hugged her closely.
Shyly she looked into his face and handed him the picture crumpled in her hand.
“You are so beautiful, my angel girl,” he said as tears inched their way down his cheek.
He knelt down with her and let her stand on the floor. He looked into her face and marveled at how beautiful she was and how she had, indeed, grown. He fingered her curly ringlets and tears continued to roll down his cheeks.
“I’m so glad to see you, angel girl,” he said. “I have missed you so much.”
She didn’t really know what to say. Finally, she looked into his face and reached up with her tiny hand and stroked his jaw.
“I’m not always good, Daddy,” she said. “I didn’t know if you would still love me. Do you still want to be my daddy?”
He cleared his throat and struggled to speak. Tears still made patterns on his face. He held her hands and stared intently into her deep blue eyes.
“I’ll always love you,” he said. “None of us are always good. But I love you and don’t you ever forget that I do. There is nothing you can do that would make me love you more. You are my precious angel and what I do I do for you. I’ll always love you. I will always be your daddy and I will never stop loving and caring about you.”
I cannot help but think about the love that God has for his children. I’m not always good, Father God. But He continues to love me. I know who He is but like the little girl I don’t always understand His plan or the role He plays in my life. Regardless, He always loves me and there is nothing I can do to make Him love me more. We have to never forget how much He loves us and to understand that what He does He does for us. There is no more powerful love than the love God has for those who believe in who He is.
Let God be your Daddy. Let Him hold you with the promise of a love that you cannot even fathom or understand. You cannot be good enough. You cannot earn it. You cannot deserve it. All you can do is accept it and believe it. And know that it is because of what He has done that it is ours to have and to keep. Father God, be my Daddy. I’m not always good, Father God. Thank you for loving me even when I least deserve it.
Michael and Kendall Wall / Used with permission Michael and Kendall Wall / Used with Permission
(C) Julie Wall / 2005 (C) Julie Wall / 2005
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