When my husband and I moved to a new town in 1986, we came with the hope that we would purchase our first home. We had set our budgeted price at $55,000 and began to look at houses. We saw several we liked in the $60-65,000 range, and then I found the home I loved. It was in the neighborhood of our new friends, and it was beyond cute. The asking price was $65,000. I called my father and said to him that it seemed that the homes that we would like to buy were about $10K more than we felt we could spend, and that, in fact, we had found a home that we loved for that amount. This was his cue to say that he would give us $10,000, which would have been nothing to him. In fact, I believe that his impulse to do just that must have been very strong, and that it almost certainly took a tremendous amount of self-restraint to answer as he did, “Then you will need to find a cheaper house.”
This answer was in sharp contrast to the backdrop of my life.
In kindergarten, I was the only child in my class to have a new box of crayons half way through the year. The crayons were provided by the school, but I didn’t like the way they looked by January. So my father found out who supplied the crayons and purchased a box, which he delivered to the kindergarten.
In high school, I remember a day that the choir was to sing, and I had a run in my stockings…
I called my father. He drove to the mall and purchased a new pair, and then drove the balance of the ten-mile trip to my high school to deliver the stockings.
Also in high school, if I had a trying day and did not like what the cafeteria was serving, I could call my father, and he would make the twenty-mile round trip to bring me (and one or more friends) Wendy’s. Note that I did not appeal to my mother for any of these difficulties, as I knew well that she would be without sympathy (!!), bless her.
The most telling incident came in 5th grade. I came home from school one day and announced that I did not like school. This was alarming to my father, and he asked why not. Grasping for an answer to back up my hasty assertion, I said “the water fountain for our class is all the way at the end of the other wing of the hallway!!” Not long afterwards, my fifth grade teacher leaned down to me as I was working at my desk and said, “Please thank your father for the water fountain.” “What?!” I thought. “What water fountain?” And, in fact, although I had not noticed it as I entered that morning, on my next trip out of the classroom, I saw that, indeed, there was a new water fountain, just outside our door. My father had called the superintendent of schools and arranged to pay for a new water fountain to be installed. Oh my!
And so imagine my surprise when my father did not answer on cue regarding the house of my dreams.
It did not take me thirty years to appreciate the wisdom of his answer to me that day. In fact, I understood early on that my father’s hands-off approach to our lives, including our finances, was a gift of greater sacrifice, than those early extravagances.
In January of this year, that very house became available for purchase through foreclosure. I bought it and remodeled it.
Throughout this process, I thought of my father, and thanked my heavenly Father for his gift to me of a father who sacrificed by saying “No.” Last Friday, I listed it, and on Saturday I received an accepted offer. (Did I mention that it was beyond cute?)
When my father gave me this surprising answer, I made no follow-up comment. I knew why he had answered as he did.
When we rehearsed for our wedding, and the minister asked the question, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” My father answered, “I do.” Later, I heard the discussion between my mother and my father as my mother said, “I wish you would say, ‘Her mother and I do.” “No.” he said, “The answer is ‘I do.” “Your relationship with her after her marriage will be essentially unchanged, but my role will be forever altered. I have been her provider and protector, and I will no longer be that for her. This is a transaction between two men.”
And so, he answered, “I do.” and “Then you will need to find a cheaper house.”
This strength that he showed infused our marriage with strength, and brought much joy. For this and much more, I am thankful for my father.