For some unknown reason over the past several weeks, I’ve been bombarded with the topic of parenting. I’ve been in the role of single parent for 2 1/2 years and think I’ve done a pretty good job. But I must admit, the long breath I sometimes take when the kiddos go back to their mom’s is real, emotional, exhausted and, to be honest now and then, a relief. Being the only one there 24/7 when I have my girls can be such a huge burden/joy/love-hate/uplifting thing as any man could have in life. And I wouldn’t trade it.
This all started a while back when I decided to be smart alecky (yeah, I know, shocking) with someone at my church, Canyon View Vineyard, when the church posted on Facebook about a parenting class. I just thought (well, I didn’t think) to say on the page that after all of the classes for parenting, mixed families, marriage, pre-marriage and everything to do with families, wasn’t it about time the church did something for single parents? Well, even snarky questions will get you an answer. And what you ask for, you’ll be given. So now I’m enrolled in a Visionary Parenting class. That darned God, He does it every time!
But back to dance dad. Not that the title matters. I’m a dad who happens to do a lot for dance. And if having one daughter in competitive dance isn’t enough, my youngest is jumping in next year. And when I say I do a lot for my girls’ dance, I’m really only guessing. I don’t build haunted houses like the talented dads do for the Express All Stars. I’m not the fix-it-all dad who has a daughter who dances with mine. I’m not the dad whose wife teaches the recreational program for Express. And I’m certainly not the stud, ex-Marine dad who every year wins the “hottest dance dad” crown (boy I hate that guy, LOL). I can’t do hair. And if I meet a dad who can, it’s gonna really hurt.
The truth is, most of my contributions tend to be writing big checks for car washes, shaking down my business friends (who are always so generous) for contributions, going to the kids’ performances and having a few beers while playing golf — don’t judge, it’s a fund-raiser!
On this dance dad topic I was additionally struck by a piece from a mom who recently attended her daughter’s NCA competition in Dallas. She talked about how her daughter wasn’t the star or featured athlete on her team, but the pride showed through nonetheless. She also talked about being positive as her daughter’s team struggled to win but came up short, about how her daughter was learning life lessons about competing, winning and yes, losing, and about how the other kids she has puts the sport of cheer in perspective. But what I got from it was she was there. She was involved. She cares. And most of all, she unconditionally loves. Like all parents, we watch, we pray, we love.
I got the “being there” gene from Mom. She always was (as was Dad, but we’re talking the old days when Dad worked plenty of afternoon and midnight shifts), even though I was rarely more than second string. My older brothers were the stars. Their games were the ones worth attending. But there was Mom praying to let this be a blowout so her baby could get to play — just as I pray when my baby goes on stage about hitting triples and staying in sync. I wasn’t there to see her this time for Dallas and regret not being there. I had no idea just how much.
But here’s why God put this on my heart for this column. Phil Castle, my editor and right hand man, lost his wife, Billie Castle, a popular attorney in town — while all my dance, golf, kid running and single parenting was going on. Did I know Billie well? Perhaps not. But I admired her work, her clarity, directness (well, not always) and propriety in all phases of her life. But what I admire most are the two wonderful young men she and Phil raised up in this world. Billie was there. And her being there will leave a legacy that will continue to touch many throughout the years.
My Canyon View class is based in Deuteronomy 6. We all know verse 5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” But it goes on, and if I read it before, I don’t recall it. Verses 6-9: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
For the first time in nearly 15 years, I walked into Callahan Edfast Mortuary not to sell something, but to honor someone I liked very much. Someone who was there for her clients, for Phil and for her boys. Billie Castle. She lived Deuteronomy 6.
And because she did, she will be missed.