A few days ago my father called me. Although he didn't leave a message, my husband saw his number come up in the caller id. As of yesterday morning I had yet to call him back for a lot of seemingly legitimate reasons: I forgot, I was busy, it got too late etc. I don't talk to my father very frequently (for a lot of reasons best not discussed on the internet). As I was leaving the house, I jokingly said to my husband, "You should call Daddy back for me, I'm sure he'd love to hear from you." Part of me hoped he would take me up on that offer.
Sometimes talking to my dad is like working overtime. When I was in grad school and seminary I would have to field comments and questions like "school, school, school... you sure love school" and "you're not working yet?" When I actually was working as an adjunct professor at a college in the area, I don't think he could wrap his mind around the fact that I was actually the professor. After awhile it just became too exhausting so when he suddenly began to assume I was working a 9 to 5 job, I just allowed him to believe it. Now when he says things like, "I know you probably don't get home from work until about 5 o'clock" I simply reply, "uh huh, but today I got home early." My big sister cracks up every time I tell her about it because she can't believe it. Trying to get either one of my parents to understand that ministry is a job and sometimes I actually get paid to do it is nearly impossible. And since neither one of them (and probably a lot of you) totally grasp the concept of organizational development consulting, explaining the skill I acquired in exchange for thousands of dollars made payable to Howard University is a lost cause. So Daddy is content to think I leave the house every morning and arrive back home every evening, while I think my mother probably thinks I do nothing all day (but that 's a whole other discussion).
Usually all of this enters my mind every time I see his number in my caller id, but yesterday something happened that changed all of that. A different number popped up in my caller id. It was my mentor letting me know that her ex-husband had passed away that morning. He'd had a heart attack a couple of weeks prior, but I was so sure that he'd make it. I was shocked to learn that he didn't. My mentor and her ex-husband have a daughter my age. Over time her relationship with her dad has seen some peeks and valleys no doubt, but they have a loving relationship. I can only imagine the pain she is experiencing right now.
After hearing that news, I was heartbroken for my mentor and her daughter. As soon as I got back in the house I called my dad, and he was elated to hear my voice. What was the one of the first things he said?..."I waited until later to call you the other day because I know you don't get home until about 5 or 5:30." My response..."Oh, but today I got home early."