Monday, June 16, 2014

To All Those Who Are A Father To The Fatherless

The dress she wore was pristine white.

Long ringlets of blonde hair, interlaced with ribbons of different lengths and widths, fell across her shoulders like an enchanting, almost child-like veil.

Yards of tulle overlay the silk and satin that provide a stark backdrop to the red roses she clutched with both hands. She had clung to dreams of this day where she was the Princess and her Knight in shining armor was there, to whisk her away and they would live happily ever after.

It sounds like a fairy tale, but my little girl was living it. 

On this, her wedding day, every delicate detail was in place. She was surrounded by a literal bouquet of darling flower girls and most of the people who loved her deeply.

It was a culmination of life to this point really, for all of us.

A landmark moment when I was caught between the heart gripping emotions of deep joy and crushing pain. When a life-span of profound gratefulness for God’s grace and unwelcome agonizing grief collide.

It was a surprise surging, rolling of emotions to watch a man take her heart and hand who had only known her for a small slice of her life. 

A man who knew little of what it took to get this beautiful young woman to this point and quite honestly, knew little of the men who had invested themselves to make her the woman that he was now enthralled with.

It was on that day, I looked around and God gave me eyes to see it myself. Soul-eyes to capture a glimpse, of the men that the Lord had used to be His hands and feet, to this young woman.

It was her own father, who told me she was beautiful the moment she was born. Together we decided to give her the name, Amy, which means “beloved.” The word... beloved... it sounds as sweet as its Greek meaning: sweet, cared for, admired, prized, cherished, valued and highly esteemed. And too soon he was gone, and I wondered who would someday walk that tiny infant down the aisle.

Her Uncle Randy was one of the first to arrive at our home the day of the accident, even though he had a four hour drive to get there. In the days, weeks and months that rolled into her formative years, he would swing her high into air and shower her with unrestrained affirmation and affection. He did ten thousand other dad-like-things, none the least of which, were to assemble a huge Barbie doll house for Christmas and fix flat tires on one small pink bike.  

Great-Grandpa Steffes stepped up to fill a monumental gap. He was the one who made sure that she rode in a dependable car and lived in a home, where she would be safe and warm. Yes, he would crawled through the attic to check wiring and under spider web clad floors, to fix plumbing. He was a protector and an advocate, making sure no one took advantage of a single mom who needed a lot of help, to raise little girls. 

My own dad, her Grandpa, did everyday life with this cherished one. She would sit on the bathroom counter, while he shaved and she would scream happy screams, as she touched his prickly face, covered in foamy-white shaving cream. Uncharacteristically, my dad would crawl on the floor, bucking and snorting little whinny sounds, as they played horseback or just lay in the king-sized bed and roar while she kicked his round tummy.

There was Uncle Ben, who lived like a gentle giant in those days, and carried her with strong arms and who would kneel low to speak in his soft voice, words of life to her tender heart.

And then there was JQ. 

The one who came gently and unexpectedly. Walking into our lives and taking on the sacred duty of being a man who would stand in the gap of her life. In the deepest sense of the word, he arrived as her provider, and protector.  Indeed he is the mirror, of the love of Christ who has the name Provider and Protector.

Even though it looked more like, hanging out with Big Bird, riding on Tea Cups during his honeymoon and brushing back her tousled hair, when she ran one of her many high fevers. 

As she danced around in her princess-like dress, the men who invested in her, from her first and earliest steps and into the arms of her first love, stood unassumingly on the sidelines. 

Yes, as I looked around that crowded room I wanted to grab the microphone from the master of ceremonies, and give tribute to the real men who had given pieces of themselves to this fair-haired beauty. 

Unnoticed and unrewarded.

Men who reached out beyond their own lives, their own children and their own comfort zones. 

They were my heroes.
God brought some for a season and some to stay.  

All of them, for a deeper purpose than any Father’s Day card could communicate or capture.

It is true, that it’s easy to love those who love you, but it speaks bigger than life when you put hands and feet to love those who can give you nothing in return. 

Those are the men, who I wish I could give a collective hug. 

You are the ones I would like to deliver cupcakes to your door. 

Every single one of you. 


The brothers, the uncles, the grandfathers, the teachers and coaches and the regular guy down the street. 

The men who protects those who are vulnerable, who defend the ones who need an advocate.

On that day, all dressed in blinding white, her face shinning, the men who pushed the swings, clapped at dance recitals, kissed skinned knees and walked though emergency rooms doors, collectively delivered my daughter to the front of the church. 

And fighting back brave tears, JQ did what all valiant dads do. He gave his daughters hand in marriage, to someone who won't understand, until the day he has to give his own daughter away.

On most days, but especially when Father's Day rolls around, I am reminded what a gift it is, to know men, who are fathers to the fatherless. 

I have a special place in my heart for them.

And God does too. 


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© Rhonda Quaney