Last Friday, I was in a car accident. I am okay, and so is the girl that I hit, but my poor car is totaled. I am no stranger to totaled cars, ironically; this was actually the fourth car I’ve owned that has been totaled. This was the first one that was my fault, unfortunately, but the point of this post is to focus on another first from that day. When I got out of the car, after checking to make sure the girl was okay, the very first thing I did was pull out my phone and call Wes. I didn’t call the police, I didn’t call my insurance agent (like they do in the commercials), I called my fiancée. It wasn’t until this morning in church that I realized the magnitude of this phone call. I’ll explain below:
Most childhood memories of my father involve sports of some kind. Unlike my sister, I was not the daughter that was naturally gifted at every team sport I tried. I had to work hard just to be average, and I was blessed with a dad that wanted to work with me. I was a hopeless softball player when I was 8 and 9, and only made teams because our youth league didn’t cut anyone. Before my 10-year-old year though, my dad had the brilliant idea to turn me into a pitcher. Granted, slow-pitch softball isn’t the hardest to learn, but there are position players that were great. I was one of them, but I won’t take credit for it. In one of my first games, I took a line drive to the shin that almost broke my leg. I was terrified, and refused to go back to the mound the next inning, or for the next game. My dad saw that his oh-so-assuring words of “it just happens; you’ll be fine” were having little to no impact on me, so he had to figure something out. One day, he made me come to our backyard because he had a surprise for me. As we were walking down the steps, he told me we were going to work on my pitching, and I simply froze. I was trying to quickly figure out a way to make my dad understand that I was never going to pitch a softball again. He saw my fear, but just wasn’t accepting it. When we got to our pitching area, I didn’t see a mound or even a plate, but a game of horseshoes. My confusion was evident, and to this day, I still remember his explanation. He told me that all pitchers get hit by line drives. There isn’t a good softball or baseball pitcher in the world that hasn’t taken a line drive to the head or shoulder or foot that made him or her never want to pitch again. The difference in the great ones, however, was shown when those that were hit went back to face the next batter. Dad said he wanted to teach me a way to pitch so that batters could only hit fly balls, and line drives and grounders would be very uncommon. That’s where the horseshoes came in. Because they were so much heavier than softballs, he made the distance shorter, and my only option was to throw them high into the air so that it would be similar to pitching distance. And it worked! For the rest of that season, softballs were hardly used at my house, only horseshoes. We didn’t lose a game that season, and I was voted to our all-star team at the end of the season. My dad had taken me from the awkward, clumsy girl that was just thrown into the outfield to an undefeated, unafraid, all-star pitcher because of his horseshoes trick. It’s a story about my dad that I have told many times, and one that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
There are dozens of stories like that. In four years of varsity basketball, my dad didn’t miss a single game. My sister and I were on every traveling softball and basketball team my parents could find for us, and they made sure we could make it to every out-of-town tournament. The sports memories overflow, but there were trying and difficult times as well. My dad has led the charge for our family to survive through heart attacks, car wrecks, cancer, and even the death of both of his parents. The time that my sister was so sick was a scary, dark time for all of us, and there are blocks of time that I simply don’t remember. There were countless people with hearts of gold that called to check on me and make sure I was handling everything okay, and sadly, I don’t remember all of them. I do remember my dad’s calls though, almost daily. He’d ask my work schedule for each day, and try to call when he knew I could talk. My dad is a man of few words, but his persistence to make sure I knew he was thinking about me and wanted me to be okay was such a bright spot in my life at that time.
How did I get here? Why I am talking about my sister’s cancer when I started the post with a car accident? Well, I will tell you. In that first paragraph, I put a lot of significance with the fact that I called Wes after the wreck, and it’s because I called someone other than my father. As I mentioned, I have been involved in many accidents, and there has never been another phone call before the one I made to my father. Not only did he know how to take care of all of the car logistics, he simply was the only person I wanted to help me take care of the situation. As most frantic daughters can agree, there is something indescribably soothing about a dad’s voice helping calm you down in an intense, unexpected event. Friday, however, my dad was my second phone call. While I was in church this morning, that realization hit me like a ton of bricks. By no means does falling in love with Wes decrease the love I have for my dad; everyone knows that’s not how it works. But, as I was daydreaming about our upcoming wedding, I had this vision of my dad walking me down the aisle, towards Wes, and it filled my heart up so much I thought I was going to explode. My dad, who taught me how to pitch, and sat in a bathroom floor with me when I was crying one night, and helped coach some of my teams, and taught me how to drive, and moved me into my first college dorm, and called me daily in Greensboro when my younger sister was battling cancer, and drove up the mountain to surprise me when Wes proposed, will wrap my arm in his on my wedding day and escort me to the man that will take care of me for the rest of my life. The magnitude of what that tradition means is overwhelming beyond words.
I am so blessed to still have the opportunity to call my dad when I need his advice or guidance, as there many dear friends of mine that do not have that luxury, and my heart breaks for them. After my accident, Wes got the first phone call, but my dad got the second. Today, on Father’s Day, I truly feel like the luckiest woman in the world. On our wedding day, the man that has taken care of me for the first 30 years of my life will “hand me over” to the man that will have that job for the next 30 years (and hopefully longer!). It’s a beautiful story, and one that I am so thankful to share with all of you.