Archive for the ‘Father’s Day’ Tag

His Dad’s Tool Chest

“Why did we have to come? He didn’t care about us when he was alive. Why should I care now?”

“Because, he was your father. Show some respect. He deserves that much.”

“Why? He left us! He didn’t want us. I want to go home.”

“Ben, we can’t. These people want to meet us. They were…are friends of his.”

“Please, mom. Can we just leave after the service?” He swiped a sleeve to his moist eyes.

“I know this is hard for you. It is for me, too. But, we have to face what is, and…go on, like we’ve been doing all these years. It will be alright.” She gave him a tight squeeze. “I promise.”

They were stopped by a man as they headed back to the car after the graveside service.

“Excuse me. Are you Ben? And, you are Shauna, I presume?” He smiled and shook their hands. “My name is Edward Jennings. I was a friend of your father’s. I handled some of his legal matters for him, and he left some things he wanted you to have. Here’s my card. If you will give me a call before you leave town we’ll set up an appointment to go over his will, and discuss some things with you both. We can’t do that here. Would that be alright?”

Shauna looked at Ben, then nodded. “Sure. That will be fine. Thank you.”

The next day they were shown into an office at, ‘Jennings, Croft and Perry’, Attorneys at Law.

Ed greeted them, directed them to chairs, then brought out a large dark wooden chest. “Ben, your father wanted you to have this. It opens up with this key.”

Ben took the key handed him and turned the lock. The chest had the initials, B.A.C. Sr. carved into the front. The lid swung back easily on its hinges revealing the contents inside.

Ben went through the chest one item at a time, things he’d never seen before, tools of some kind, turning them over in his hands.

“Those are carving tools, Ben. He took up the craft after starting in construction and made this chest. He was quite good at it, actually.”

There were some pictures, a few of Ben when he was a baby, with his mother, then as a toddler, but none of Ben past the age of four. He read the notes written on the back. There were envelopes with some money and old coins, another set of keys, and a bible with scriptures written on the inside pages. He opened it up and found a quote, “Whatever worth building in life is only as good as its foundation.”

“What does this key go to?” Ben asked.

“It belongs to a safe deposit box in you and your mother’s name. I have another set here I will be giving you and your mother also. It is a set of house keys, to his house, also left in your names.” Ed replied, smiling at them both.

Ben looked over at his mom, noting the look of surprise and shock on her face.

He then opened a sealed envelope marked, “Private; to Benjamin Alexander Crowley Jr.,” and withdrew a single letter which he read silently to himself.

    “Ben, I have no adequate words to tell you how sorry I am for leaving you and your mother. I wanted only to hold you, close to my heart, but was afraid, too ashamed to show myself after being gone all those years. When you were very small I had a gambling debt and owed some people a lot of money. I did a lot of awful things back then, drank too much, wasted time and money on all the wrong things. The people I hung around with were wild, not the kind of friends anyone should have. So, to spare you both I just took off. I thought if I could get a decent job, clean up my act, pay off my debts, and get my head on straight, I would come home. But, I was afraid. Afraid I would not be welcomed. I regret all the things I did, but my biggest regret was leaving you both to struggle alone through the years, without me. Please forgive me. It is all I ask. What I want you to know above all else is that I love you and your mother. I always have. Treasure every moment you have with her and grow up to be the kind of man I wasn’t, so you won’t live with regrets. I’ve paid off my debts and owe no one anything anymore, except to you and your mother what I stole; the time and years wasted when I wasn’t there.”

Ben looked up at Ed and asked, “What did my father do, on his job?”

“He worked for a company that built tall buildings, skyscrapers.”

“How did he die?”

“They were working on a construction site project when the scaffolding gave way, and collapsed. He was crushed underneath.”

A year later, on Father’s Day Ben and his mother stood at the grave site of Benjamin Alexander Crowley, Sr., each bringing their gifts; a bouquet of fresh flowers from the garden at their house, the one now belonging to them, and a small wooden cross Ben hand carved with his father’s tools.

Ben had no special words to say to fit the occasion. He had no memories of Father’s Day times spent with his dad. All he had was the “now moment” his mother called them.

“Thanks Dad.”

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Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there,

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

The Father’s Way

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When we were walking the trail one day with our dog I spotted these little geese families. We watched them first trot along in the high grass, across our path to the lake with all the babies’ in tow, their little heads barely seen above the grass. and then they quickly hurried over to the water and jumped in. Between the larger geese, leading and bringing up the rear the babies swam between. By the middle of spring there is a lot of new life and babies born to birds and game of all kinds. It was a touching sight to watch them, and I was so glad I had my camera. There were also little duck families that we saw on another day when I did not have my camera, so I have begun to take it along more regularly now when we walk so I don’t miss shots like this. As you can see, I have used the same photo for my blog header image as well.

While watching the geese and ducks I thought about the way parents of any species will fiercely protect and watch over their young, lead, and direct them through their young life, so they know how to be watchful of prey, to protect themselves when grown.

It is also the way our heavenly father watches over us with a much greater sense of protectiveness and direction, hoping that we will follow after Him, his leading, and know how to live in a way that assures us a safe, trusting pathway in life.  In Proverbs 13:1 of the Old Testament bible, it says, “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction.” Male or female, we all need that kind of leading which gives us the tools and instruction to live our lives in safety and harmony with others.

I was very fortunate to have an earthly father who led by example and taught us how to apply those biblical principles to our own life. But, it is my heavenly father who gives me eternal life, and the best of everything I can ever hope for, or expect. It is the Father’s way.

If you are a father, I wish you a Happy Father’s day, and the blessings and peace that only the Heavenly Father can give.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

In The Quiet Of A Life


In The Quiet Of A Life

Wherein remains in the quiet of one’s life

In the melancholy of the soul

There lies deep inside of one

A bell gone silent without toll

There comes a reminiscent thought

When one looks back at what is still,

A passage of time forever sought

And to their memory commit to will;

For in the silence and the quiet

Of a bell that cannot toll,

They sit and wonder, meek and shy

What it was that came and stole

Their thoughts and pondering of time

A passage of life, they cannot find

For in the stillness of the hour

It is the quiet of their mind.

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Poem by:  Joyce E. Johnson

I wrote this poem in 1996 in memory of my father, Victor A. Mannhalter, who died in March, 1982 from a malignant brain tumor. During the last six months of his life the effects of cancer caused severe memory loss so that he could not recognize people or talk coherently to anyone, including me, my mother, and my siblings. When he tried to speak he got names and words mixed up, his thoughts and sentences, scrambled. I put myself in his place trying to imagine how it felt. For patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or malignant brain tumors like my father the symptoms are much the same, as is the frustration in trying to remember things from their past and memories are gone.  For a man in his early sixties who had pastored churches for over forty years and devoted his life to full-time ministry and to the people in his congregations it was difficult to watch him deteriorate so rapidly. He always loved photography, carrying around a trusty old Pentax camera documenting events, his travels, and his life, ours and others in pictures and slides, his favorite pastime. As the cancer progressed, he lost what he treasured most; his internal memory of all, that which could not be saved, regained or preserved like the slides he took.

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