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Today is Easter Sunday. Coincidentally, it’s also my father’s birthday.
Both celebrate death.
One focuses on a loving, heavenly father who sacrificed to provide eternal life. The other focuses on a loving, earthly father who sacrificed in his own way to provide my stable life.
Dad would have been 74 today. He only saw 54 birthdays.
He’s come to mind a lot lately. I’m 54.
Junior Sheroan cast a big shadow. Literally. Dad was 6-feet-2 with massive arms and shoulders and weighed 240 or so much of his adult life.
He cast a big shadow personally, too. An easy smile and a rousing chuckle defined his personality. As the years made impressions on his face, laugh lines protruding from his eyes formed crevices that seemed to fix a permanent smile upon his features. Even his wrinkles were upbeat.
Dad casts a big shadow still. Since moving back home to Hardin County six years ago, I frequently confront his memory.
Sometimes it’s through his memory shared by one of his five living siblings or another relative like my sweet Great-aunt Ruby who never fails to bring him into the conversation. Other times its longtime friends like his fellow graduates in the Vine Grove High School Class of 1956.
It’s not always people who bring him to mind. It can be places like a moving and storage warehouse where he once worked or the Radcliff building where we used to go for ice cream.
Home is not even safe. Watching reruns of “The Waltons” has been known to stir a tear.
I no longer can benefit from his experience and advice. His opinions and guidance are viewed as cherished commodities lost for all time.
Many days I long for a chance to sit at his knee and listen to the familiar rhythms of his frequently repeated stories and extract the wisdom preserved there. Instead, it’s become an increasing struggle to recall the sound of his voice.
In many ways, it’s more difficult to be his son now than before his death.
Coming up on 20 years since he suddenly lost a prolonged battle with heart disease, you realize time has smoothed the rough spots in his character. Dealing only with how much he’s missed, we tend to overlook and forget the flaws.
After all, it’s been almost two decades since Dad lost his temper, angered his wife or forgot my first name. In all that time, he’s never said anything offensive, made a mistake or been late for an appointment.
By contrast, his son has committed all of those offenses and more – except forgetting my first name. That will happen soon enough.
Measuring your life against a flawless model is an unyielding challenge. It can lead to frustration, disgust and self-loathing.
Or perhaps, it can lead to forgiveness.
Which brings us back to Easter. As Christians, we compare our lives to the perfect model of Christ. Stacked up against that example, everyone comes up short. But thanks to his perfect sacrifice and victory over death, forgiveness and hope reign.
And I can dream about a reunion with my father.
Happy Easter and Happy Birthday, Dad.
Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at (270) 505-1764 or email@example.com.