Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day to the Coolest Dad Ever

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Today is my first Father's Day ever without my dad. 

Daddy passed away on December 4, 2015, and I was privileged to give a tribute at his memorial service. 

Today, in honor of him, I thought I'd share it with you. 

My Daddy Was a Traveling Man
Some of my earliest memories were of being bundled into our VW Squareback for a trip across country. We lived in Texas and traveled mainly west, to New Mexico, Arizona, and amazing places in that part of the country.

But my dad was a traveling man way before I came on the scene. I’ve seen the pictures to prove it. He traveled with his best friends before he got married and with my mother after they became husband and wife.

And when we came along, he included his daughters in his travels. We started traveling with mom and dad almost as soon as we were born.

Each trip started the same way, just after midnight. I’d go to bed at the regular time, listening to the hustle and bustle of mom and dad packing up our camper as I drifted to sleep. Later, I’d be roused just enough for daddy to pick me up and deposit me in a makeshift bed in the back of the VW Bus. I’d snuggle in, my sister close by, and we’d sleep until the bright sun woke us up many miles outside of Dallas.

I remember picnics on the side of the road. Nights spent under the stars. I remember camping in our VW Bus and eating Dinty Moore Beef stew and Spam sandwiches. We camped all over the country. We’ve been in blizzards so bad that we had to scrape ice off the inside of the camper while it was moving and the heat was on. We’ve driven through 110+ weather in death valley without air conditioning. I even have a picture of our VW camped under a huge fir tree on top of Mt. Saint Helens, years before she erupted.

My dad’s favorite trip was always the same, though. The Grand Canyon held a fascination for his photographer’s eye. It was where he and my mom spent their honeymoon, and I think that by the time I was 16, I’d visited the Grand Canyon with them 18 times. He used to say he could stand on the rim for the rest of his life and the view before him would never be the same twice.

I remember one particular trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We pulled off at a roadside park to cook bacon and eggs. And we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a swarm of dive-bombing bees, intent on adding themselves to our eggs as additional protein.

He frequently let me tag along as he rose early, in the black cold of predawn as he chose a perfect place for sunrise pictures. On those excursions I learned so much about lighting, composition and the importance of framing an image to photograph. I didn’t know I was learning anything. All I cared about was the fact that my daddy wanted me along with him.

I also learned something more subtle—the importance of making time for the people and the activities you love.

We didn’t grow up rich. We always had enough, but mom and dad’s priority was making sure we could spend important time together as a family. Our vacations were never extravagant. No five-star resorts for us. But they were always an adventure we shared.

If you ask my mother today, she’ll tell you that the decision to spend time together instead of amassing things was the best decision they ever made.

Daddy also instilled in me the love of reading – and without meaning to – ignited my love of writing. Looking back, I realize this was just one more way he fed his passion for travel. Through books he could go anywhere an author’s imagination could take him. He particularly loved science fiction, and I remember early on sitting on my daddy’s lap watching the original Star Trek television show.

But he didn’t limit his reading only to fiction. He read everything. As a matter of fact, He’s the only person I ever met who loved to read encyclopedias. Our house always boasted more books than we had shelves – even though at least one room in every house had floor to ceiling book cases.

In some ways though, his travel didn’t serve him well. His intellect made him skeptical, and He struggled with what life after death would look like. He couldn’t settle on what God meant by an assurance of Heaven. Because he was a just and humble man, he had trouble reconciling the fact that Jesus was the only way to heaven. To him it was the height of egotism to believe there was only one way to get to Heaven.

After I grew up and got married, he and I had some difficult conversations about Christianity. But even as we disagreed, he made sure I knew how much he loved me and kept our relationship strong and intact.

I believe this lack of certainty haunted him as he grew older. In 1998, he went in for quadruple bypass surgery. I remember being there through the doctor appointments when they asked him what life-saving measures he wanted. “I want you to fill me up with every tube you’ve got, hook me up to every machine that will help, even prop me in the corner, but DO NOT LET ME GO."

Then in 2011, after his diagnosis of dementia, I once again asked him if he’d like to know for certain that he was going to Heaven. This time he took a deep breath and said yes. He listened and I could see the truth break through. He prayed as he made the decision to place his hope in Jesus, no matter what. With his amen came an instant transformation. Gone was the fear and paranoia about death and in its place was a profound core of peace. That was when he found this church family and for me – you all are a gift from God.

Oh he still struggled and fought against the disease, but under-girding that battle was a certainty that He had an advocate who would ensure his victory after death. 

As that disease began to bring him closer and closer to Jesus, he got ready to travel again. And I got to watch a beautiful closure in the circle of life when it came time for Daddy to leave. I sensed his Heavenly Father reach down, wrap him in a blanket of peace, and gently carry him on. Our joy came with being certain of where he was going.

And right now I know he’s seeing things that defy earthy words. Yes my daddy was a traveling man, and he’s once again blazing a trail, and I know he’s looking forward to the time when we’ll once again be traveling together as a family.

I love you, Daddy, and I miss you so much...


  1. Oh, my,you were so blessed and your words blessed me this morning. Thank you.

  2. Beautiful tribute to your dad. I lost mine 30 years ago, but it seems like yesterday. Praying for you today.

  3. A wonderful tribute to your father. I, too, lost my father years ago. Although he was a believer long before I was born, he was a quiet man who never expressed his love for us kids verbally. He never spoke an encouraging word about my writing, but after he passed I discovered that he had saved the issues of every article I had written. We are both blessed to have had the fathers the Father gave us.

  4. Love this post! And we love our dads!

  5. You were truly blessed with a wonderful Father. I cherish that for you. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

  6. Oh Edie, Thank you for sharing such a personal story. What a blessing to have such a wonderful Father. Sending hugs and prayers your way.

  7. Thank you, Edie, for allowing me to travel with you down your private memory lane. It was a blessing.

    1. What a lovely tribute to your dad, Edie. Such special memories--thanks for sharing them. What a wonderful promise for you to know you'll see him again someday in Heaven.

  8. We had an old set of World Book encyclopedias in the corner of our living room. I used to hide behind the chair and read about the different places and animals. Thanks for sharing your memories. Your dad had a special little girl.

  9. Such a lovely tribute. It actually brought tears to my eyes. I miss my dad, too.

  10. Edie, thank you for sharing your heart with us today. Father's Day can be difficult for those of us whose fathers are no longer here, but remembering them and how they loved us, as you have done here, certainly helps.

  11. Beautiful tribute to your dad, Edie. We were both blessed to have daddies who unconditionally loved us and husbands who continue to love and encourage us. God has certainly been good to us.

  12. Edie, I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing this. We so need those we love to come with us into eternity.