Happy Birthday, Dad

Today would have been my dad’s 71st birthday.  It’s still hard to believe he isn’t here to celebrate another year of his life.  Cancer swept in and took him from us much sooner than we wanted or planned for it to.

I think of my dad every day, but this past Sunday in church we sang a song that we don’t often sing, but it reminds me of my dad every time I hear it.  My sister and I had a 25th anniversary for his years in the ministry and one of the friend’s we asked to sing, chose this song.  It perfectly described him.

The Longer I Serve Him

by Bill Gaither

Since I started for the Kingdom,
Since my life He controls,
Since I gave my heart to Jesus,
The longer I serve Him,
The sweeter He grows.

Chorus
The longer serve Him, the sweeter He grows,
The more that I love Him, more love He bestows;
Each day is like heaven, my heart overflows,
The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows.

Ev’ry need He is supplying,
Plenteous grace He bestows;
Ev’ry day my way gets brighter,
The longer I serve Him,
The sweeter He grows.

The number one, most important thing in my dad’s life was serving the Lord.  Next came his family.  We were so richly blessed to have him in our lives.  He was such balanced person – so even the great majority of time.  He brought tranquility to stressful situations.  He was also a complete goofball.  When I was young I bought him a little sign for his desk made out of wood and two nuts.  It says “I love you – you nut”.  He kept it in his office – I now have it in mine.

Dad loved his birthday day and Father’s Day – any excuse, really, to get gifts.  He was hoot.  He started several weeks, if not months, ahead of time reminding everyone of the upcoming event.  He dropped hints (not even remotely near subtle) about the newest thing he wanted – he always had something he wanted.  I remember one of the last birthdays he had, he’d begun his ritual early on (probably in April or May).   I don’t remember if he’d told both Tricia and I about what was on his list, but we both knew and had talked about it.  We met him and Mother to see a theatre production and went out to eat afterward.  I had seen him and Tricia head out to the vehicles.  When Mom and I arrived I couldn’t figure out what they were doing so I headed around to the driver’s side to see.  He was talking very quietly to her and secretly handing over an advertisement of the desired item.  I spun on my heel and distracted mother so he wouldn’t “get in trouble”.  (There was no real trouble to be had – it was just part of the game.)  When we headed home Tricia showed me the ad.  I don’t remember now what the item was,  but I do remember it cost $19.95 (plus shipping and handling) and told her that he would help us pay for it if we needed him to.  What a riot!!!

I miss him and today I’ll miss him more than normal.  I wish we would have had twenty or thirty more birthdays with him, but it wasn’t to be.  The lessons he taught us about life and death will remain with us forever.  The fun we had remain in our memories for our lifetime.  He was the best husband, father and grandfather a family could ever ask for.  The greatest gift he gave us, however, was introducing us to Christ.  His service to God and the lives he touched are things that I will be forever grateful for.

Until we meet again, Dad.  I love you!!!

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13 Responses to Happy Birthday, Dad

  1. Linda McCain says:

    Thank you Tammy for this. I always signed his cards “I love you more today than yesterday but less than tomorrow” . So I say “Until we meet again, I love you more today than yesterday but less than tomorrow”. I love you Tam, Mom

  2. Mardi Lohoefener says:

    Thank you for your post Tam. Mom and I were visiting about your dad’s birthday just this weekend. He was one of my favorite people ever. Dale had a quiet calm about him. Just his presence eased my worries. I think the thing that I am most thankful for is that Dale brought my father to the Lord. I now have the knowledge that I will see them both some day. It will be in a place where there is no cancer to take our loved ones away. They will be sitting on a bank fishing or just sitting around chatting about the crops or the grand kids. If a man’s life could be measured by the love he had for his family and the love his family had for him, our dads would be at the top of the list. Love you all.

    Mard

    • Tammy McCain says:

      Thanks, Mard! They were too of the best!! I am so glad that Dad was instrumental in your dad’s walk with the Lord! There is no way I could comprehend how people who don’t have the assurance of seeing their loved ones again cope with the separation of death. He loved you and your family – I’m glad our Dad’s can be together. They’ve been busy watching ball games this summer. A couple of weeks ago Avery and Zachary had games going on at the same time in different towns. Courtney said to me, “You know, Grandpa’s the only one able to watch them both!” :o]

      • Tammy McCain says:

        Like the way I spelled “too” – I meant “two”. I can’t believe how much I miss – I even reread! I need an proof-reader every time I type!!! Gee-ma-nee!!!!

  3. Nanette Kraus says:

    What a great tribute to a great man! I always considered him a life mentor, and substitute father on many occasions, so I celebrate with you. The fact that he and Brian share birthdays AND our anniversary make me remember all the more on these days.

    Blessings to you as you recall sweet memories!

    • Becky Diehl says:

      What a celebration he is having today and I bet he is getting great gifts today! I do miss him even thought I didn’t see you guys much but the one thing I will always remember him telling me I was his favorite niece and I always told him thats because I was his only niece!!!! HAHa

      • Tammy McCain says:

        That was big of him, wasn’t it?!?!! That was him – forever making people laugh! Thanks for your comments and thoughts. We did always have fun when we got together!

    • Tammy McCain says:

      He was happy to be your substitute father! We have loved having you be a part of our family. Our lives have been enriched because of it! I always remember that Dad and Brian share the same birthday, but forget about your anniversary – what are the chances?

  4. Mary Struckhoff says:

    Tammy,
    You will never have a day that something doesn’t come across as a memory. Dad has been gone 15 years this Nov. & there is something every day that is him in me. You will always have the birthdays & special holidays that will exemplify these memories. But, I hope we don’t get alzhemer’s!!! That would be the saddest… Your Dad (&Mom) was the BEST neighbor(s) a gal could have…!!!! Take care. Happy Memories Dale–glad you were born,lived and were so good while on Earth–makes gettin’ to Heaven a bit easier knowin’ you’ll be there & we can “live” w/you again!! Mary

    • Tammy McCain says:

      Thanks, Mary! I have been very touched by the fondness that people have when recalling Dad. Being together again with our loved ones is what keeps us going, huh? You are right – they do live on in us – the legacy they leave by the example they were is with us always. My folks always enjoyed you as well. Glad they had you as their neighbor all those years. Kensington and Athol holds many fond memories for all of us they years they ministered there – the people of the community have a special place in our hearts! God bless!!

  5. Barbara Struckhoff says:

    Tammy
    Your dad was so special I always felt like he was a brother and will miss him always .He was with us through the good times and the horrific times .Because of his joy of life and humor he showed my sister in law that being a Christian doesnt take the fun out of life but makes it better .I will always be thankful for your Dad and Mom being in our lives .

    • Tammy McCain says:

      You were a very important part of their lives as well. Dad did have a gift for knowing where people needed to be met in order to reach them for Christ – I guess that was Christ living in him. Thanks for your friendship and the love you have always shown to our family.

  6. Simply Sara says:

    oh tammy. your dad sounds amazing.
    my heart is truly touched by the way you speak of him.
    you are such a beautiful daughter, and though i didn’t know him, i can say with confidence that he would be so proud of the woman you are.

    i wish i could take away your grief…. i look forward to the day with you when we will both be able to celebrate these special days with our loved ones again.

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