By Anne Maxwell
My Dad is one of the most patient people I know.
Growing up, I didn’t always appreciate that particular trait of his. I was always of the mind that quicker is better. I would inwardly groan when Dad was behind the wheel instead of Mom. She had a bit of a leadfoot, he had no trouble taking his sweet time plodding down our dirt road around 45 or 50 miles per hour, barely kicking up dust.
Making a sandwich was a painstakingly drawn out ordeal. Whereas Mom would have my bologna and cheese slapped together in a nanosecond, Dad took his time, getting plate out, carefully placing the cold cuts and putting just the right dab of mayo on.
All this patience, however, worked out for me in a big way when I was in fifth grade. That fall, I had moved to the basement to a new bedroom after my younger brother took over my upstairs domain. I had been able to pick out the carpeting in my favorite shade of red, wallpaper adorned with roses, and a dusty pink quilt to pull it all together. I selected new posters and hug my shadow box full of knicknacks as any pre-teen of the ‘80s would
My favorite display next to my mirrored tray with Love’s Baby Soft perfume (told you I was an ‘80s child) was my two ceramic Poirot clown figurines. When the bottom knob was wound, they would spin and the melody of Send in the Clowns would begin. Their haunting eyes spoke of heartbreak, but for some reason or another, I was drawn to them.
Thus, my room was all coming together fabulously in my eyes until the day my toddler brother came down to visit and happened to bump into the dresser where they were so proudly displayed. Gravity won the tipping battle and it was soon lying on the floor in dozens of pieces.
Tears and yelling ensued and Mom rushed down the stairs to see what the fuss was about. I was upset; my Mom was just relieved the clown was the only casualty.
“The important thing is that we can fix this,” Mom said, trying to calm me down.
“There’s no way it can be fixed,” I cried to Mom, pointing to the multiple pieces splayed out on the carpet.
Mom didn’t hesitate. “Sure there is … you Dad will do it."
I had the utmost faith in my Dad in a lot of things. However, miracle worker of broken ceramics was not exactly a skill I felt was in his wheelhouse.But, I wasn’t going to argue with Mom, and I was willing to give anything a shot to keep my room decor intact.
A week went by. And another. I didn’t have the nerve to go into Dad’s office to see the progress of the restoration progress - or the lack thereof. One day after school, I headed down to my room to find the clown - not in multiple pieces, but once again made whole. I could hardly believe my eyes as I picked it up, truly in awe of how I could hold it together in my hands again.
“It’s not perfect,” Dad said, when I thanked him. “You can see in some spots where I glued it, but it’s back together.”
Dad had painstakingly taken each broken part and piece by piece, glued it back together. I never did ask him how long it took. I didn’t have to. The sheer number of tiny seams was evidence enough of a time-consuming project.
I’ll be truthful with you. That clown almost made it into the “give” pile earlier this spring as I came upon it while cleaning out yet another forgotten shelf in a closet. After holding it again in my hands and remembering my Dad’s love and patience, I just couldn’t part with it. I wasn’t ready to let go of that broken treasure my Dad fixed. He didn’t see a mess of broken pieces like I had that day. He only saw something that could be fixed.
As Father’s Day is upon us, I am reminded of the love and patience both our earthly - and heavenly - Fathers offer us freely. I hope I can follow their example. It’s not always about fixing something. It’s about being patient enough to accept the work it might take to mend the broken pieces, and having the love to put them back together again.
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