“Daddy First”

The Herald-News
October 23, 2013

When Fall temperatures begin their first tease, I think about my favorite Fall story. It’s twenty-five years old but the leaves and smell and story are as fresh as yesterday. May I retell it again?

As warm-weather Floridians, our family anticipated cool East Tennessee holidays. Here were loving relatives and infamous calories. As usual, by Thanksgiving the leaves had metamorphosed into innumerable smiles from God. My kids turned into grandchildren and quickly turned Fall’s adornment of irresistible colorful magnets into trampolines of laughter. Abandonment replaced caution; wonder forgot risk.

I grabbed both daughters’ hands and ran down a sloping yard toward a world-record mountain of Fall’s finest sponges. “Fast,” I urged, “and jump real high.” Leaves stuck everywhere as we fell, rolled, and laughed! Abruptly, the idyllic scene turned chaotic as Robin, only six, screeched at the sight of her severely dislocated thumb. “How?” you ask. I had landed on Robin’s hand.

The specialist, also called to the emergency room from his holiday celebration, was gentle and soothing. Returning Robin’s thumb to its home base would not be easy. For two hours Robin sobbed and we groaned. At one point, the doctor left and returned to the treatment room with a textbook, no doubt hoping for a technique or detail that would provide a miracle.

The inevitable moment came; surgery would be necessary. Presenting it as an adventure, Mom prepared Robin for surgery. Yes, the gown was cute, and her friends at school could all sign her cast. Weary from hours of pain, Robin was brave and fearful all at once. Her family was mush.

The moment Robin was wheeled into surgery, alone, time stopped. For me, the weight of guilt and helplessness engulfed every thought. Yet, we gathered to pray and held on to hope: the surgeon assured us that once anesthetized he would try one last severe manipulation. I have always envisioned he picked her up off the operating table by her thumb!

Surprised by the appearance of a nurse before we settled into our newest waiting room, we leaped in anticipation. It worked! Surgery was averted and Robin could go home. Hugs and grateful tears abounded, and thankfulness to God followed.

“To grandma’s house we’d go,” where family waited and prayed. “Oh Robin, how are you?!” Gam-ma asked at the door. And, what about waiting, anxious “Swister” Joy?

Wonderfully close, earlier that year Joy introduced Robin to Christ. Gleaming with excitement to see her, Joy begged, “Let me sign the cast first!” “No,” Robin said quietly, “Daddy first.”

Overshadowing His own pain God, too, forgives us forever when we place our trust in His Son. “He has not dealt with us according to our sins…As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:10, 12).

For me, every colorful leaf is a reminder of Robin’s—and God’s—sweet forgiveness.

Now, Tennessee is our home. For Christ’s followers forgiveness is, too.

2 Responses to ““Daddy First””

  1. 1 Gam-ma McDaniel October 24, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    John, remembering and reliving the poignancy of that moment, the anxiety, and then thankfully, the relief when a smiling Robin presented her cast proudly for eager signatures…:-) Sweet memories of times shared will most certainly evoke similar memories in the minds of your readers as they relate. Loved this column and your presentation..Nice, son John!!


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