Yesterday, my dad asked me a question:
“What’s your testimony today?”
I rolled my eyes (he couldn’t see this) and said “Dad, that’s not why I called you this morning.”
“I know, but you know the last time I was asked that was…”
And my father went back to a moment, when he himself had to answer the unexpected question. Hearing him open up about the changes that were occurring in his life, and how it all worked out in the end personally, financially and professionally, I was moved to speak.
“Actually, Daddy, I do have something to say”
You see, yesterday was my niece, Ava’s, 6th birthday. My brother’s first child, and my parents’ first grandchild. Whenever Ava’s birthday arrives, it is a day of happiness and love, two-fold; one, because she is becoming more loving, beautiful, and exceptional with each passing year, and two, because my father has been blessed with another year on this earth.
Let me start at the beginning.
For me Ava and Papa’s lives will forever be intertwined for me. My brother and his wife announced the pregnancy with snow globes for each of my parents, with a small picture of Ava’s ultrasound, on a December morning in Jackson at the Cracker Barrel. In the new year, we found out that the soreness and pain my father had been feeling on and off for the past few weeks, were symptoms from his now diagnosed cancer.
Talk about facing life and death.
As the months progressed Ava grew and my father experienced numerous health setbacks and scares as the doctors tried to determine the best way to combat his internal foe. Meanwhile, marooned in New York, I felt helpless, unable to see Dad or celebrate with my brother as Ava’s birthday drew near. It was the first time my mother uttered to me, in the middle of the night, after waking from a terrible nightmare, “Lissa, we’re always where we’re supposed to be.”
In time, check ins with mom turned into “check ups” on Dad. I was afforded an amazing opportunity to flex my acting muscle at Williamstown Theatre Festival, I had my doubts about not going home for the summer, but Mom and Dad assured me, that I had to keep moving forward and if anything should happen, they’d get me home.
A few weeks passed before I got the phone call, “Hey Aunt Melissa!” from my brother. Ava was beautiful! All ten fingers and toes, and Dad was starting to receive treatment and was getting somewhat accustomed to his new circumstances.
Now I could keep going but I’ll stop here and say that just last month, my dad got to spend time with Ava and his two grandsons in Jackson. Look what God can do!
Birthdays are always amazing days filled with reflection, gratitude and joy. But when I think of Ava’s birthday, it’s a birthday for my dad as well. A day that symbolizes life for them both.