Remembering Dad

Beth with Dad
Beth with Dad

My dad — Charles H. Richardson — passed away one year ago today. I grew up watching him every Sunday morning as he led worship in little Methodist churches in Oklahoma. Because of him, I wanted to work in the church. Dad gave me many gifts–love of nature, music and photography. When I was ordained, he was here to lay hands on me in the ordination service.

His last years were lived in the darkening stages of the disease of Alzheimer’s. Every day, his world shrank just a little bit more. When I was with him a couple of years ago, we sat and ate dinner with my brother and Anna, my step mom and Dad’s wonderful caregiver. Dad said to me, “So, tell me where you have lived.”

I answered, “Well, I was born in Norman, you know, and then we moved to Mooreland.”

Dad said, “Oh, I did a stint there in Mooreland. What’s your last name?”

“It’s Richardson,” I said. (My heart was getting heavy.)

“Well,” he exclaimed, “My last name is Richardson! Who’s your daddy?”

I said, “You’re my dad! I’m your daughter, Beth.”

He turned and looked at Anna and she nodded to him and said, “That’s Beth. She’s your daughter.” He looked a little uncertain, and then he stood up, opened his arms to me and said, “I need to give you a hug.” I stood up and we hugged — a good, long embrace.

We sat back down at the table and he listened as I told him about myself: how I had been to seminary, was ordained in the United Methodist Church, worked at The Upper Room, had written a couple of books. He was delighted to know who I had become.

Our dinner conversation turned to other things, and then he turned to me and asked, “Do you know my daughter?”  And I said, “Yeah. Isn’t she great?” As the rest of us chuckled, he looked at me closely and said, “Oh. You’re her, aren’t you?”

Over the following years, when we talked on the phone, I always ended up introducing myself to him. And he was always delighted to know me, to learn I was his daughter, to learn I was ordained in the United Methodist Church, and that I worked for The Upper Room. It was a wonderful ritual for me and such a gift of affirmation that, even if he didn’t remember me, he was excited about who I was and who I had become.

Today on this first anniversary of his death, I’m sad, but grateful for his life and for the gifts he gave to me. Thanks be to the Creator for the gift of Dad.

16 thoughts on “Remembering Dad”

  1. Sorrow for your loss. Joy that you had such a wonderful father.
    You have touched many lives, as I am sure your father also did.
    Advent blessings, Beth. Connie in Illinois

  2. How blessed to have a father who delights in you — and he did — just as God delights in us. And, his gifts extend to you and through you to us. Blessings as you remember him.

  3. Thank you, Beth! Reading this story of your positive interaction with your father gives encouragement to and example for those of us who are or may have to be dealing with Alzheimer’s. You’ve shared a wonderful tribute to your dad and your relationship with him. Blessings, Pat

  4. Connie, Joan, and Pat, Thank you so much for your comments, your ministry of presence here with me today. You have blessed me so much by your words.

    Thank you,
    Beth

  5. This is a lovely tribute, Beth. I love how you interacted with your dad on his own terms in the last stages of his disease. It is as if you instinctively knew the message of the Upper Room Book, No Act of Love Is Ever Wasted.

  6. A beautiful remembrance of a father who truly loved and cherished his daughter. I have special memories of you and your family at Mangum. I know how many lives your father touched and what a blessing he was to many. I am so glad to see that you have chosen a similar path and are sharing your gifts with so many. I am pleased to have the opportunity today to thank God for the influence of your father in my life as he is remembered in this special tribute.

  7. Although it is tinged with sadness, this is a wonderful story! My mother has been experiencing symptoms, but so far she knows who I am. I am happy for you to have such a wonderful memory of your father, and thank you for a lesson in how to deal with my mother in her advancing age.

  8. This is such a great tribute to Charles and his wonderful spirit. Even in the later stages of that disease it still sounds so much like him. And I can’t believe that I know the honcho for the Upper Room, either, Beth. I’m proud of you, too. 🙂

  9. There’s no mistaking that you’re your father’s daughter! The photo, your many talents, your life’s work; what an honor to your father’s legacy. Thank you for posting this beautiful tribute. And thank you for the endless gifts of love, hope and faith which you bestow on all of us, all year long.

  10. What a treasured connection you two have.
    May the anniversary of your Dad leaving this planet bring more joy and less sadness in the days ahead.
    Blessings on you as you embrace the mystery.

  11. Beth…My mother was my hero and I lost her 17yrs ago to Breast Cancer. I know your profound loss. My thoughts are with you durring this upcoming holiday season. Though my mother died on Christmas Eve, the following year was at best Purgetory if not out right Hell to get through.

  12. Friends, I’ve been away from this website for a week — and I just checked back to see your wonderful, loving, amazing comments here. I’m so blessed by you all — to have you in my life. Both those of you who knew my dad and those who know him through me.

    Thank you, dear friends — Cindy, Robin, Brett, Daria, Carol, and Clarke.

    Blessings,
    Beth

    PS And Cindy — I’ve been wondering where you are! I’m so happy you found me. Let’s visit — send me an email: beth@betharichardson.com

  13. Beth,
    What at tender and poignant tribute to your daddy. What a legacy. Thank you for sharing about him, your loss and all that you do on this site. I’m a new comer but am enjoying your writings so much. Please continue.

  14. What a blessing it was to know and work with your dad many years ago. He had just come to Tulsa, and I was just preparing for seminary.

  15. Dear Beth,,,
    I am now retired from the OK conference, as of ’09, and now live in N. Ohio, caring for my wife who has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
    I served with your Dad in various ways over the years,,,, loved that man and was enriched by him. As I read your note above, tears of joy formed in my eyes, and I was glad that I got to thank God for Charlie one more time.
    God bless YOU for all the ministry you and Jack do in your corner of the ministry world. I am regularly fed by your ministry. Doug Thatcher

  16. Hello Beth,
    I’m hoping you remember your baby sitter in Sulphur who loved you and all of your family so much. Your remembrance of Charlie brought bittersweet tears to my eyes. He and Marty had a great influence on my life and you and Charles Alan were so precious to me. I named my son Alan David. Thomas was born after I left for college, so I didn’t get to spend time with him as I did with you and Charles Alan. I’m so proud of all that you are accomplishing in service to our God.
    Still love you,
    Mary Lou

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