If it weren’t for my kids and now my grandchildren, I probably would never celebrate Chanukah. Mainly because this is where it stops being a happy celebration for me. I can still see this night 38 years ago burned deep into my memory, almost as vivid as the night I was there. Although no longer angry or bitter at God, I’m sure he realizes how much it hurts and how there’s still an emptiness longing to be filled.
Tonight would be the night 38 years ago that I was waiting for my dad to come home from his pharmacies, either from Baycrest or Wellesley, as we would light the Chanukah candles on the menorah together. Normally, he would be home around just after 6:30pm or so, and I would be waiting at the babysitters until he arrived and we would go upstairs to our apartment. He didn’t arrive at the babysitter’s apartment that night and I was worried by about 7:30pm.
I went upstairs to the apartment to see if anyone was home. When I got upstairs and went into the apartment, the first thing I did was call out for my dad. Of course there was no answer. I then went to look around the apartment as there were lights on, and I went into my parent’s bedroom.
That’s when I saw my father slumped over the dresser all purple with spots on his arms and legs. I didn’t know what to do and I was curious and scared at the same time, because I called out to him and he didn’t answer me. He was just slumped over. My sister walked in and saw him and all I saw was her face all horrified as she was screaming, “Daddy’s dead!” My mom got home and rushed to my sister and me holding us both. I was scared at that point because I was rushed back to the babysitter with my mom asking if I would be able to stay the night. I just wanted to see my dad. My mom said I could see him in the morning. I held onto that hope as my dad was not dead at the time, like my sister thought.
Morning came and I was anxious to see my dad as my mom came to get me. We went upstairs to our apartment and I saw all of the mirrors covered. My mom and my sister sat me down and told me that “daddy was not coming back” and is in Heaven. I was in disbelief and I wanted to see him. My sister told me we couldn’t because he died in the middle of the night. I wasn’t even allowed to go to the funeral to say goodbye.
Chanukah at that moment turned from joyous celebration to emptiness and bitterness for me. I felt shut down. As time passed and anger swelled, I eventually stopped lighting the menorah. Chanukah lights got replaced by a Yahrzeit Candle. Somewhere inside of me is a 7-year old that wants his dad. The one Chanukah gift that I can never have.
This year, I got one really true Christmas present. Not only was it a Christmas wish come true, but it is the only present that means a lot to me. It didn’t come from Joelle or any one of our kids. If anything, it came from God through Calvary Baptist Church. My Christmas present was a song. Not just any song, however. It was one that I was really really hoping to sing with the men’s quartet (that I have been more than grateful to be a part of), with a band behind us. Sure enough, with the help of both Sharon Ballantyne and Gwen Pifer, it all came together and Dave Ballantyne, Dave Peterson, Keith Miles and myself performed Mary Was The First One To Carry The Gospel at the Christmas Eve service.
It means so much to me because of not only the meaning of the song itself, but the song practically sang itself to me. I would wake up with this song in my head as if a quartet of angels from Heaven were singing this to me. If fact, I think that is what probably happened. The song attached itself to me so much that I just had to share it with not only the quartet, but the church as well. I told Sharon about it and her and Gwen helped us get it together. To me, this was a real gift, because it was from the hearts of everyone involved and it made my year long prayer about this come true. And, it came from God because He answered the prayer. He also gave me the vision and the courage to act on it. Not to mention that my prayers got answered when the accompaniment tape was delayed and in fact never made it, so we had to put a band together on this and having Rob Chambers on drums and Paul Pharoah on bass, with Sharon leading on piano, was more than gratifying to my heart. They, along with the quartet brought out something deep inside.
In fact, I know it was God blessed because I was doing this on God’s strength, because I have been ill for the past two weeks, starting off with a cold and now fighting off an infection in my throat, with the swollen lymph nodes to show for it. No one on the worship team knew if I was going to make it on Christmas Eve for either the worship team or the quartet, but God pulled me through it and gave me the strength to be a part of the prayer that I prayed. I even got a few little Christmas bonuses in the service, such as doing the intro to What Child Is This. None of the presents I got can compare to what God gave me for Christmas this year. And it really was Joy, Sweet Joy!
Today is living proof that God provides. It all began with last night when I got home from work. I got a bunch of swollen glands on the left side of my neck that is doing nothing short of freaking me out. It probably has something to do with the recent cold that I got and then went out to shovel the driveway early Sunday morning because I feared another huge snowstorm. However, it was definitely nothing short of freaky and was running up a low grade fever and exhaustion. All I wanted to do was sleep when I got home last night. In fact, I missed Christmas Eve worship team rehearsal and didn’t realize it. Fortunately, Margot let the guys know I was sick and fell asleep.
Well, after sleep and more sleep, I woke up at 6:21am this morning to a huge snowfall. I felt I didn’t have a choice but to not have breakfast and just get going to Toronto. So, I got ready to go and grabbed my lunch. Sure enough, once I got to Ganz this morning, I found a box a day-old TimBits sitting on the table where we had our pot luck lunch yesterday. All things considered, it was delicious and all I could really ask for for breakfast. Sure, not the healthiest at all times, but I was sure grateful for such a treat. To me, it was heaven at the time. That to me was proof right there that God was thinking of me and providing for me. He certainly didn’t have to leave me anything, but He did and I was sooooo grateful to Him for it.
I can’t believe how long it has been since I actually played the part of a webmaster. Things have definitely changed, and I think that it’s that change that took me all weekend to get three web domains ready for launch. Worst part, I still haven’t uploaded the content… that’s tonight. If anything, I definitely need to do this more often so as not to lose my touch. My problem is that I relied too much on my hosting providers to do the kind of dirty work that I have been so used to doing myself. While I relied on them, I let my basics slide. It sort of makes me glad that I am on a host that allows me to do the web mastering. If anything, it felt good to be back in the driver’s seat again. Hopefully, this will show in the web sites… I’ve even taken a different turn with them. Regardless, I’m definitely not about to let it slide again.
Perhaps, chalk it up the fact that it is Tuesday and crap always happens to me on Tuesdays, but I will be the first to admit that I don’t know how God puts up with us? I can’t even put up with us. Sure, Joelle tells me that we have to do it with God’s love. It’s easier said than done. How do you love the miscreant who, without any conscious thought in his head, parks up beside you and sandwiches you in, while you are still in your car?? Then, he opens his door against your car frame to get out. I’m sorry, but in my head, that dude in the dark coloured Sebring is a total ass! Especially, since he had plenty of room on the other side!!! As much as I wanted to yell at him, I just decided to move my car. I don’t need that crap. Some people are just total jerks and they know it.
And, again, I don’t know how God deals with it. He’s obviously an awesome God if He can deal with that kind of stuff by Himself, because I certainly can’t.