Its an emotional day for me today. 21 years ago today my Dad, Michael or Mick as everyone called him, died suddenly at the age of just 44. He was one of the friendliest, most outgoing, generous, caring and all round lovely guys you could ever meet. That’s not just the rose tinted glasses you always wear when looking back on someone who died young talking, but what anyone who knew him thought about him; the standing room only at Maidstone Crematorium for his funeral testifies to it as well.
I am now 41, meaning that it’s been over half my life since he died and I’ve had pretty much my whole adult life without him there to guide me.
I haven’t, however, been without any guidance. I’ve been able to turn to someone who has experienced everything; creation, destruction, joy, sorrow, life, death, freedom and suffering. He has taught, guided, celebrated, punished, and mourned with people since the beginning of time.
I try to follow what he teaches me, but I’m always getting it wrong. The thing is, I know that he’ll pick me up, clean me off and set me on my way again. I know he loves me, unconditionally, and will forgive my faults and failings because of this. Just like my Dad always did.
God is not a substitute for my Dad. He is so different to that. However, when I look at him acting like this towards me I can see why Jesus referred to him as “Father”; someone who is there to bring us up to be the best person we can be.
A year, nearly to the day, after Dad died, I became a father myself. My daughter turns 20 next week and its my intention to be here for her longer than my Dad was able to be. But he still influences me in how I am as a parent as well as how I relate to my Father in heaven. I always knew my Dad would be there for me and I know that God will be too.
(In loving memory of Michael Jalland: 21 January 1949 – 11 December 1993.)