13 December 2015

Into The Cap

The Cap

Evidence of Russian handiwork
from Dad's cap
In the six years since my father died, in each of those successive years my mother has made it clear that she is ready to go. She is, so far, zero for six in her predictions, but this year she's taken things to a new level - think DefCon 4. We've had A LOT of super fun conversations (essentially every other one) about her "going over the rainbow." Spoiler alert - that is not a thinly-veiled reference to "The Wizard of Oz," but it is this year's euphemism for death. She has coupled these 'rainbow' conversations with items that she has decided to unload.

A few days ago, we got a box large enough to comfortably smuggle ship a couple of Bangladeshi sweatshop workers delivered to our home. One of the items included was a hat, a cap really, that my late father wore while he and my mother served in the Moscow Russia Mission for the Church. They were there working for Church Legal, where my dad was focused on ensuring contracts and transactions were fully legal (no small task in Russia where what is legal is, um, how do you say, highly interpretive). Dad would wear a cap to cover his bald dome in those brutal Russian winters. The one Mom sent me was one they had purchased there. The pictures I took of the real one were lame and didn't do it justice, so what I included at the top of the post is one I got from an online Russian hat store (seriously, it's a thing). Anything associated with Russia on the Interwebs makes me all kinds of nervous (e.g. hackers, little Eddie Snowden, sweaty mobsters in a Leningrad flat phishing for your credit card number) so I didn't spend a lot of time on the site trying to find a perfect match for the cap I now own. But I digress...

I tried the cap on and as with all things hats and me, it went horribly wrong. I do not have a head for hats of any kind. If you've seen a picture of me in any hat, you know I'm not lying. It was no different with my dad's cap. It looked as if some cruel prankster had put an infant's cap on the head of Andre the Giant. Suffice to say, I won't be wearing the cap and if I'm being honest, I feel a little sad about that. That cap represents a tangible connection to my father and I don't have a lot of those. I am so very grateful for the memories of him that I have and more importantly for his example and the values that he instilled in me. Those are far more important than any tactile connection. Still, I envisioned myself marching from the misery that is Penn Station to my office in midtown wearing his cap and working to do him proud. That's still important to me, even after all these years.

I thought of that cap and doing my late father proud today as I taught my New Testament Sunday School/Gospel Doctrine class. Teaching from the books of 1 - 3 John, we spoke much of the the simple statement that God is love. We talked about the love God has for us as His children and this familiar verse from 3 John 1:4 struck a chord with me:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

God wants what is best for us and He wants us to be happy. My father wanted that for me, my sister, and my brother. That is precisely what I want for my three children. His example and actions taught me that. The fact that my big old head won't fit his cap doesn't change what he taught me. It doesn't change the opportunity for me to choose to be like him each day. That said, I'll keep nearby as a reminder.

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