When Father’s Day Sneaks Up and Kicks You in the Gut

Anticipating Father’s Day is hard for me, and likely for many of you. I enjoy most holidays, but this one always gets me. I miss my husband, who was the safe, wise, and strong place for our kids (and me). I miss my dad, whose huge smile, kidney-chopper hugs, and overflowing Bible verses always made things feel okay. As I watch my grandkids on the ball fields, soccer fields, and tennis courts I picture Wyndham’s countless days of coaching and his constant encouragement for the underdog. He was a dad extraordinaire, sensing when his kids needed his words or hugs. He would so love watching their kids play (and graduate!). They were his pride and joy.

But I’m a lucky one. A blessed one. I had a father who loved me and showed me Jesus, and a husband who loved God wholeheartedly, loved me, and loved his family with a fierce and tender compassion. I guess that’s why it is hard to pass by the cards for Fathers in the stores without purchasing one, or why it’s sad to not think about what I will cook on Sunday.

Some of you never knew an earthly father, had an absent father, an abusive father, or could never measure up to a father’s dysfunctional demands. Wow. That is some kind of hard. I’m so sorry. Some of you lost dads early in your life, and some are watching your father’s health deteriorate before your eyes. It stinks. It really does.

I sometimes feel a little lost approaching this celebratory day. To be honest, I was happy last year to have virtual church on Father’s Day. It made it a little easier. When I feel a little lost in loss, for some reason I find it helpful to plan a special commemoration. I’m not sure why, but it helps me in my losses to commemorate and celebrate. Perhaps it will you, too. So, I plan to “share” a special meal (by myself, by choice) with the dads in my life. I’ll pick up a steak to eat, medium rare, in their honor…because that is what they would enjoy. I’ll probably talk to them a bit, telling them why I love and appreciate them. But then I will turn to another father, to the Father who is always there and who stays with me, even with these weird conversations. He never leaves and he always cares. This is my Father who never dies and is always the same, yesterday, today, and forever. I may detect a tear in his eye, too, because I know he hurts with me. I will thank him for my husband, for my dad, and for my son and sons-in-law who are fabulous dads.

I will then tell him what a good, good Father he is, even though I don’t always understand his goodness. I will thank him for staying with me in the storms, as my solid rock. I will thank him for holding me tightly with his mighty hand and lifting me up from the ashes. I will thank him for holding me close to his heart. I will tell him he is kind, trustworthy, generous, full of love, holy, self-sacrificing, and crazy creative with the world he fashioned. He is a good, good Father. He somehow walks with the living (me) while also walking in another dimension with my physically deceased but spiritually alive husband and dad, who I can no longer see. I believe they are as alive or perhaps more alive than I am, just in a different sphere. He is with them, and he is with me. Of course I can never fully wrap my head around this concept; it is too beautiful for me and beyond human comprehension.

Abba Father, I wish you a wonderful Father’s Day…it is your day, every day. And Wyndham and Dad, know how deeply you are loved…and always remembered. Every day.

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  1. debwright54gmailcom

    Once again, your poignant words help us all consider, reflect, deeply appreciate, and celebrate. Jeanie, just shared the picture you shared and saved it in my phone…”Brother” Whitehead’s unforgettable smile, warmth, and zeal that is etched in the “aging” campus student’s memories from “back then”….and of course Wyndham. Our Father truly gives us what we need to steady our course and race….you are so dearly loved by us and so many….Thank you!

    • jeanieshaw

      I love you so much, Debbie. It always warms my heart to hear from you. You and Sheridan are treasured friends.

  2. Sherwin Mackintosh

    Loved both of those men so much. Wyndham was one of the first people I met at 14th Street Church of Christ and always had an encouraging word for me as a young Christian. “Bro. Whitehead” taught me so much as an Elder, Boss and always with the slogan, “Now let’s think of a way that it CAN be done.” My father-figures are all gone, and I was one of those without a dad, but I celebrate these two men with you. I’m just one of thousands that their lives impacted. Thank you for sharing them with all of us.

    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you for these very special words, Sherwin. These are precious memories. Love you and Debbie so much.

  3. Karen Wontan

    Thanks so much for sharing!
    There are no words to describe how much I miss my physically deceased due to disease but spiritually alive husband who I can no longer see , MaynYen Titus Wontan, February 13, 1958 – March 31, 2013 who fathered my two children.
    We met and were married and raised our children here in the church and they were 8 and 18 when he passed. I keep praying for our church to bring together women who have lost spouses -Devos, retreats, conferences, etc. I am honored to be in the South Cities Region. Please connect.
    I feel so much for my children every Father’s Day.
    And MaynYen, know how deeply you are loved…and always remembered. Every day.

    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you for such a thoughtful, response, Karen. I am sorry for the pain of your loss of one gone too soon. I know he is always with you and I imagine he and Wyndham would have some amazing stories to tell us. Sending love.

      • Karen Wontan

        Please feel free to connect me with any other mothers who loss a spouse while still raising children at home. Thanks

  4. Kitty Chiles

    Have a sweet celebration.


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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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