Remote though the likelihood may be of you having either the time or inclination to hear out the ramblings of one rather insignificant and sinful soul, I find myself humbly submitting to the world this little entry about my Dad and asking you to stick it out, all the same. Frankly, I’d greatly prefer to never have written this post, most especially not on Mother’s Day weekend. However, it’s my sincere belief that the Lord expects my obedience in this matter, so I’ll delay no further.
Before I get to the reason for the post, I want to share a couple of moments from my childhood.
I was an Indian Princess as a kid. Dad named me “Blue Water” for the color of my eyes, and my sister and I named him “Hungry Bear”. I don’t remember a lot about the Indian Princesses, to be candid. However, I remember it was delightfully different from all the other activities we did. What differentiated it from the ordinary? Well, there were cool headbands, colorful feathers, and campouts filled with daughters and dads where I learned to use a bow and arrow, shoot a shotgun, and roast the perfect marshmallow. Dad was all in!
At about age five, Dad taught me how to play poker. Next came euchre. We played A LOT of euchre in grandma’s house on Vinton Street when I was growing up. In fact, I remember distinctly Dad laughing until he cried one Sunday after mass when he saw to it that Robin and I were pitted against my Grandpa and Uncle Don, Dad’s older brother, in a big euchre game. We were about 12 and 10 years old, respectively. We trounced the very experienced Dykhuizen men that morning, and they were utterly rattled. Dad could not contain himself. The trash talk was legendary after our victory. It wasn’t until much later that they were told about how he taught us some signs to use to signal each other—barely perceivable signals– that had been successfully used to win an international bridge tournament that Dad read about. He taught his two young daughters these hand signals for the sole purpose of watching his Dad and brother come uncorked when they lost at cards to two little girls. His laughter shook the entire house when it worked perfectly.
I have so many silly little memories like this for which I’m deeply grateful. Both of my parents loved us up in an extraordinary way. They surrounded us always with a supportive atmosphere and the understanding that we were loved unconditionally.
My Dad is a joyful, articulate, sarcasm-filled lover of people and a man of faith. He’s an uber-involved and phenomenal grandfather too. I’m sorry to all who have suffered endlessly through the exaggerated stories of my three boys and their sports successes, but I assure you the tales of the musical and artistic giftedness of my nieces, his granddaughters, are for real!
If they gave a Nobel Prize for “Best, Most Unintimidated Conversationalist” I am convinced that Dad could not be beaten. There are no limits to the “no strangers” rule of life according to Jim Dykhuizen. He’s extraordinarily gifted at befriending total strangers. In fact, I guarantee you that as I type this, he’s learning the names of the children and grandchildren of his nurses up there at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Lafayette. I feel certain he’s trying to make the best of an incredibly trying stretch of days.
Dad had a massive heart attack this week. Because of the COVID rules, Mom was forced to simply drop him at the door of the ER, clutching his chest in pain. We didn’t hear again from him or about him for 7 hours. When he called mom from the recovery room after his heart stents were placed, it was the first time we knew he’d had a heart attack and gone into surgery. I’ll spare you more details but suffice it to say the week has been challenging and emotional for the entire family.
He remains in the hospital, fighting a fever of unknown origin. He’s there all alone.
Lively and persistence recourse to prayer is what I’ve got for this. It’s all I’ve ever got, honestly. Sometimes this week, I’ve moved all 50 of the Hail Mary beads and I don’t remember saying any of the prayers. I’m sure I did, but I don’t recall them a bit. I was entirely distracted, but the fact is that I tried to turn my glance heavenward, and I’m trusting that Our Blessed Mother sees my heart and has accepted my request for her intercession all the same. I’ve walked and spoken aloud to the Lord in fits and cries—for Dad, for Mom—and for all of those on my prayer list. My work this week was sort of like a school kid who did half the math problems and then forgot to sign the test. I’ve not had a corner on the market in the piety department, but I think God isn’t like the teacher I had who gave 0% when we left our name off the assignment. We’re in the middle of the coronavirus season, and He’s the amazing teacher who understands my wifi’s been acting up, so patience and compassion are His calling cards. He’s not failing me. He loves me even more than I love my parents. He loves them more too.
Here’s the thing. God knows I want to pray. He sees me trying to turn to Him, doing my best. That is enough.
My favorite saint is Therese of Lisieux. She said, “Prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned towards heaven. It is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
I might be screwing it up, and I’m no theologian, but I think I’ve learned something worth sharing. It’s about knowing how deeply we need Him, and about our own desire to find Him. Praying is just us pathetic peasants, beggars that we are, looking for sustenance from the only one who can truly help. Of course, we wouldn’t be looking for Him if He hadn’t already found us first. It’s painfully simple.
This one’s for Dad. And, dear reader, if you are so inclined, join me in this prayer for peace of mind and complete healing for one of the best guys around. I’m thankful to you in advance!
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
Mom. Robin. I love you. I’m so glad we have each other. Happy Mother’s Day to two of the best moms on the planet earth. The blog entry should have been for you guys this weekend. Dad really knows how to steal the thunder, ha? What do you say we get him home and well…and then make him pay for pedicures?
This is truly a beautiful tribute to a man that I even love for the moment I have spent here. I too will pray he returns home safely soon.
Shelley, I’m so sorry you’ve all been going through this. Prayers forth-coming. Hugs to all. J
Beautiful prayer for a beautiful man. I join you in prayer. How hard to leave him alone to go through that. I know he’s NOT alone but he doesn’t have you. And you aren’t with him which has to break your heart. Will continue to pray.
Shelley, I am so sorry to hear about your dad. We will prayer for your dad, mom and all of you during this difficult time.
Shelley, I am so sorry to hear about your dad. Prayers coming for healing and recovery. We will also keep all of you and your family in our prayers.
Shelley, Your Dad is truly one of a kind. I was able to get to know him better through my brother Mike Strauch. Your Dad was a dear friend throughout the loss of my sister-in-law. He was always there to offer a smile, a kind thought, or even a comforting hug. I absolutely adore your Dad and your Mother as well. You are incredibly lucky to have such great faith-filled parents. My prayers and blessings are offered up for his recovery and return to health. And Happy Mother’s Day to you also.
This is beautiful. I’m sorry you can’t be physically with him. St Bernadette said to pray the rosary even if you fall asleep during it because the BVM hears every prayer like an infant calling out, “ Mama!”
Shelly, I am very sorry to hear about your Dad. He is a wonderful example of a Dad, Grandpa and Hubby. I have seen him in action at SLDM events and always love his actions. I am offering healing prayers for him and comfort and love for all of you. I am sure God has him in His arms. If I can do anything for you, please let me know. Prayers for you and your family.
Beautiful, Shelly. I’m so glad I found your blog! I will continue to pray for your dad and all of your family. I hope he can come home soon.