A Father’s Heart

IMG_8140I’ve never known a man to have such a huge father’s heart as my husband, Joe. His heart for his children knows no bounds.

From the moment the kids were born, Joe relished being a dad. Even from the minute we found out I was pregnant, he could hardly wait until the baby was born. He truly delighted in the birth of each of our kids.

He would come home after a long day of work (and a long drive home!!) and would play swamp monster, take them swimming, play ball out in the yard, wrestle on the floor, on and on. Each night was completed with Joe reading a book – Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Polaris Jack, But No Elephants, Richard Scarry. If he got tired of reading the same book over and over, he’d read it backwards as the kids laughed hilariously. If he got tired of playing the same game over and over, he’d make up his own hilarious rules. His greatest joy was being the one to pray a prayer to ask Jesus into their hearts. He wanted to be able to spend eternity with his children.

Once in a while, the kids and I would meet Joe downtown Seattle for lunch. We’d have lunch and then go to the Seattle Center and walk around. If Joe wasn’t busy at work, he would take the kids on the tram back to work with him to spend the rest of the day. They loved spending time with their daddy.

As they got older, he helped prepare for and host parties for the kids and their friends, helped our daughter and her friend dye their hair, polished Jason’s shoes as he got ready to go to a prom, taught each of them to ride a bike and later to drive. I couldn’t begin to list the many different ways he spent time and was involved with our kids. He loved being involved in their lives…and they loved him being involved. Always a people person, Joe could always be found in the middle of a group of kids, playing right along with them, making up games. The more the merrier, the more the fun. We rarely had a babysitter, instead taking the kids with us wherever we went. We loved having them with us.

Joe played more games of chess with Jason than I could count. He paid for the kids’ education, bought their first car for them, helped our older son start (and stay) in business, paid off his debts to help get on him feet when he was struggling. He has helped emotionally, spiritually, financially – just to name a few. To say that he was an involved dad would be an understatement…and the kids loved every minute of it. He celebrated each triumph with them and grieved each sorrow with them. To say that he loves his kids so much also would be an understatement.

Joe struggled terribly when Jason died. He was so devastated. I was so worried about him. He went back to work – and Jenna and I went back to school – a week after the accident. I think we all tried to jump back in too early, but we didn’t know any different. Joe had an hour and a half drive to and from work, his route taking him by either the cemetery or the accident site every day. Many days he would come home from work, and I knew he had been crying.

102_0734.JPGJoe told me once that he always imagined our house in Snohomish being filled with our kids and grandkids. He was looking forward to being a grandpa. He could picture it filled with family and friends.

After Jason died, the emptiness echoed around us. Our friends disappeared and left us alone. Our daughter was busy with school, working and taking dance lessons. Our older son had moved out not long after his son was born. He, too, went to school, worked a labor-intensive job and helped take care of his son, Michael. Although we have three grandchildren now and have tried to stay in touch and have a relationship with them, it has been difficult. With long distance relationships, it takes encouragement from parents and effort on all parties for it to work. Much to our sorrow, it just hasn’t happened very much. Let’s just say it’s not the ideal Norman Rockwell grandparent-grandchild relationship. It’s very sad.

Yesterday, our new neighbors (who have bought the property across the street and will be building a house there) came by their property to play in the creek. They are a young couple with two adorable children and stop by regularly for picnics and to let the kids play by the creek. I notice Joe periodically looking longingly out the window at them, wishing he could be a part of the fun. We had to run some errands and Joe saw a sporting goods store that had big balls in bins in front of the store for sale. He went over to look at them, thinking to buy one for the kids to play with. Since we try very hard to not encroach on their privacy, especially since they usually bring friends with them, Joe decided not to buy one. He was very quiet on the way home and I could tell how much he misses being around “young people” and especially kids. He wants to be the grandpa that hangs out and plays with his grandkids. He was just so sad.

We miss getting together with people. We miss being around young people. We miss our kids. We always thought we would continue the fun of raising our kids once our grandkids were born. It just hasn’t happened that way. Our son, daughter-in-law and grandkids live all the way across the country and it continues to be a difficult situation. Jason he is gone. He will never get married. He will never have kids. He would have been a great dad. Our daughter and son-in-law live four hours away. They have made a decision not to have kids, and we respect their decision. This coronavirus thing has made it difficult to see them. Both Joe and I have been horribly burned by people we trusted and struggle with trusting friendships. As a result, we really don’t have any close friends and are alone a lot of the time.

fullsizeoutput_c607We just celebrated our 44th anniversary. I love this man more than I could ever put into words. We have been through ups and downs, many moves hither and yon, difficult things no parent should face, health issues, on and on. We have survived and I love him more today than when we got married.

I heard this song the other day and thought of Joe when I heard it. It’s written in the form of a rhetorical question – Could I Love You Any More? – to which the answer is: I don’t know how I could love him any more than I already do. I love him with my whole heart.

Seven billion people in the world
Finding you is like a miracle
Only this wonder remains

Could I love you any more? (Question’s rhetorical)
Could I love you any more? (Oh, this feels phenomenal)
Could I love you any more? (Love is all there is)

Could I love you any more? (It’s inexhaustible)
Could I love you any more? (Oh, love is unstoppable)
Could I love you any more? (Love is all there is)

Wishing happy Father’s Day to my precious hubby. I wish I could take away your sadness and fill the gaps left by Jason’s death. You are an amazing man and I am so thankful for you.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

Mother’s Day – When motherhood doesn’t go as expected.

I wish I could skip right over Mother’s Day. There’s no getting around it. Mother’s Day makes me sad.

The only thing I ever wanted to be in life was a mother. I pictured a Norman Rockwell family – mom, dad, happy, healthy, loving kids with whom I would have a life-long, loving and happy relationship. Family Christmases. Holidays together. Celebrating important life events together. Grandkids running around the house.

Things don’t always go as planned or as we hope they will.

Jason is gone. He was my sunshine, my loving, kind, wonderful boy. He was hope for a daughter-in-law and grandchildren who would love us and want to be around us. I miss him so much.

Our older son lives all the way across the country and is married to a woman who has no respect nor care for us and actively communicates the same to our son and grandchildren. We do all we can to try to maintain a relationship and show them how much we care – call, visit whenever we can (at great financial cost to us), send gifts for nearly every occasion, etc. I can’t tell if it makes any difference at all. It breaks my heart.

Our daughter and son-in-law don’t live close to us any more and we miss them like crazy. She communicated to us a long time ago that she had no desire to ever have any children. That’s fine; it’s certainly her choice and we respect that. Our son-in-law has grown to care about us – and we for him – and for that I am thankful. He is from El Salvador and called me on Friday – Mother’s Day in El Salvador – to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day (right after he called his own mom). It was very sweet.

Other things, some I can’t talk about, have absolutely crushed my heart. Some days the cross feels so heavy and I am tired.

Motherhood – and life in general – doesn’t always go as expected. Most days I keep on moving down this road of life, but some days I just have to sit and let the tears flow. Broken dreams. Broken heart. Today is one of those days.

Hugs to all mothers with broken hearts and empty arms this Mother’s Day and every day.

~Becky

© 2019 Rebecca R. Carney