Dad’s mood was somber that morning in 1966 when he sat on the couch and opened his arms for a bear hug. The four of us piled on his lap, hugging and chattering, squirming and pushing. Dad didn’t seem to mind the ruckus. Lowering his head, he squeezed us extra hard.
We knew Dad loved us more than anything. We didn’t know his heart was breaking.
The night before, the phone rang after we’d started getting ready for bed, which was unusual. Mom and Dad talked quietly about the call, and as Dad prepared to battle the Kendall Ford fire*, he pulled the curtain back to peer into the evening sky.
He drew us all to the window to show us the glow over downtown Eugene. It was all so exciting, like waiting for fourth of July fireworks or a lunar eclipse. We bounced into bed for hours of peaceful sleep, unaware our dad would spend the night at war.
As he held us on the couch, he described how big the fire was, how hard he’d worked, and that two firefighters had died. One was a friend whom he’d supported as he fell, the other a young man several yards away, a young husband and father.
That’s when I saw the tears in his eyes.
I’d never faced the possibility my dad could be hurt before. It rocked my world to see him cry. I thought he was indestructible, unshakable, but he proved otherwise. His heart hurt for the wives and children who were suffering at that very hour while he held his family close, and I shared his pain, thanking God my daddy had come home.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 ESV).
My dad’s example drew me closer to him, because now I understood he had weaknesses just like me. Because he allowed his family to see him grieve, he helped us see that everyone needs God to be their Father.
It was such a powerful moment in my life, it made the transition from trusting Dad to trusting God a natural one. Thank you so much, Dad!
by Kathy Sheldon Davis
*The Kendall Ford fire occurred on October 11, 1966.