In different words, my Dad taught me about this whole business, “being rearranged.” He began teaching me this lesson that I still dwell in.
He told me how his mother couldn’t hold him for weeks after his birth – oatmeal on his arms, to keep his tiny hands from his face.
He was born rearranged – a cleft lip.
I hardly know how to tell you: this was not 2013. It wasn’t as simple as a surgery or two. This tall skinny boy had over a dozen surgeries on his lip. He wasn’t done with the operating table until he was a teen. But don’t even think that was the hardest part.
Some of them cruel, some of them curious.
The reactions of other kids bounced back at him like an ugly distorted mirror –
glances telling him that he was broken,
that he was worth less.
ALL LIES. Horrible lies that were flung in his face long before he could spell.
But God – God was not absent. God has and has always had a plan for Scott,
Whenever I came home in tears, or as he tucked me in bed at night, he would tell me how the cruel reactions of a false world shaped him, caused him to find true kindness, to dig deeper, to have compassion, to make him who he is. He told me that these good qualities might not be a part of him had it not been for the cleft in his lip, had he never been called a “hare lip.”
And yes, the man has his faults. I still can’t get over him hiding my keys from me when I was 17…all because I left them out. 🙂
And when our stories converged, when his first-born’s first-born was rearranged, not by birth defect, but by something preventable (mismanaged jaundice) – this was no small thing for my Dad to bear.
Some people think nothing of others pain and everything of their own – but not this man.
I think a large part of him, felt immediately what was ahead – what I couldn’t fathom. (I hadn’t absorbed those blows that he had – I’d only heard about them as bedtime stories.) I’m pretty sure that my son’s trials knocked my dad off his feet. It was a direct hit. He knew too much about growing up different.
For years afterward I’ve seen it (in myself and my husband too) this root of bitterness that has desperately sought to lay hold. He too wrestles with the “Why and Until.”
So no, I won’t tell you that he’s perfect, but I will tell you that he is the man who taught me how to look below the surface:
He taught me
to seek out the light that illuminates (behind the lens and in life),
how to string trout on a belt (I’m not kidding, we had no stringer and it was one of the best days of my life!),
how to love the Blues.
He taught me a father’s love –
a father that will use the broken to create wholeness,
a father that will use the broken to teach his children how to be whole.
And just so you know, the cleft lip enhances my Dad’s look if anything, but truth be told it’s taken me 8 years to connect the dots, probably because I have NEVER, not for a second, thought of my Dad as different, but as one of the most handsome men I know.