I kept it to myself yesterday, but along with it being Father’s Day, it was also my mom’s birthday. She passed away last August and this was the first June 18 of my entire life without her in it. I think God allowed the two days fall on the same date for a reason. Yesterday would have been much harder to survive if I wasn’t focused on celebrating the dads in my life.
My dad left early yesterday morning to work out of town so we celebrated with him Friday evening. I was glad he didn’t have to be in his house too much yesterday. I could hear in his voice how hard the day was for him and had he been home with all of those triggers, it could have been much worse. So before I move on to yesterday’s activities, I just want to pause to celebrate my dad and remember my precious mom. Happy birthday in heaven to the sweetest, most beautiful mother in the world.
Saturday I asked my husband what he wanted to do on Father’s Day. His answer was quite unique. Our church has a wood cutting ministry started by a good friend of ours. It’s a place where volunteers cut firewood for families and individuals who cannot otherwise afford it. We live in a place where temperatures get very frigid in the winter months, so firewood is a must for many folks to stay warm. My husband began cutting wood at the woodlot a number of months ago and it’s become a very healing, serene spot for him. Instead of going to the gym or hitting golf balls, he goes to the woodlot.
And I totally see why. I’ve only been out there a few times, but the place feels very sacred. It’s a place that’s all about the good in life. The boys have been with him a couple of times but not much, so for Father’s Day, my husband wanted us to go as a family so we could experience it together. As a girl who likes to get her hands dirty and sweaty, especially in a missional way, I was intrigued by this suggestion. After lunch, the four of us spent some time working at the woodlot and I’m so glad we did.
After that, we decided to take a picnic dinner to Cataloochee Valley and hike, wade in the creeks and watch for elk. As soon as we hit the winding, mountain road, we all rolled down our windows and enjoyed the ride. It was an absolutely stunning day here in Western North Carolina. We made a stop to look at views on the way up. Other than college and graduate school, I’ve lived in this area my entire life. Nevertheless, these mountains still take my breath away.
This area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was once a thriving town with over 1,000 residents. When the National Park system bought the property to preserve it, the residents moved out. The park system left relics of the town as historical sites and to remember the past residents of the valley. Also, about 20 years ago, elk were re-introduced to the area and now they’re a thriving component of Cataloochee Valley. We spent five hours frolicking about. There was absolutely no cell service which was amazing. With most of my work being online and involving social media and websites, it’s hard for me to unplug. So when I’m forced to do so, it’s a most liberating feeling.
Just like every holiday or tradition since my mom passed, I felt strange yesterday when I woke up. The finality of death really is a hard thing to wrangle, but I decided to make the best of it. And being with those you love in a place you love certainly helps heal a grieving heart.