Here I Come, Dad

As I watched my brother run into Dad’s arms, my embarrassment was replaced by understanding and maybe even a glimpse of heaven.

I was 13 or 14 years old, living with my father and two of my older brothers. My oldest brother was living in a group home in Provo, Utah, and we were going to meet him at church. He was mentally disabled, and he was going to pass the sacrament that day. I was nervous. I was always nervous around the people in the group home. I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t know how to act. Arnol, my brother, was okay, because I grew up with him and he would make me laugh with his silly jokes. He always called me “dog eyes” because my eyes were brown and they looked like the eyes of our dog.

My dad was wearing his suit, and he looked very distinguished. We didn’t talk much in the car. It was a two-hour drive, and I think we were all a little nervous. We were all wondering how Arnol was going to handle this big responsibility.

The church was crowded, and we were sitting in the very back of the chapel in the overflow area. I could see Arnol sitting by the sacrament table. He kept looking around to see if he could spot us. He looked good. His hair was combed, his tie was on, and his jacket hid his stooped shoulders. I could tell he was nervous and hesitating, looking for reassuring nods from the other boys.

The boys stood up for the prayer, then took their trays and started down the aisles. Arnol tipped his tray as he shuffled along, but nothing fell off. He took it to the correct row, and he managed to pass it to the first person. People in the audience smiled at him and gave him encouraging nods. He was grinning. I could tell that he was pleased with himself. He was doing this all by himself. He was doing a good job. I heard a sigh of relief pass from my dad’s lips. Inwardly, I started to relax a little too. It was going to work out fine.

After the sacrament, the boys stood up to join their families. My dad stood up straight and tall in the back of the chapel so that Arnol could see him. Arnol looked around and saw Dad; then while half running down the aisle, he said, “Did you see me, Dad? Here I come, Dad; did you see me?”

I was embarrassed, and I could feel my face grow red. What would everyone think? But no one was frowning; they were smiling as they watched Arnol head towards his dad. And my dad stood tall and proud, ready to welcome his son after a job well done.

I think of this instance often. I reflect on the poise and pride in my dad’s stance and the love he felt for Arnol. Arnol accomplished what he was able to do. He would never be a football star or a great musician or an A student, but he could pass the sacrament and my dad was proud of that.

I think this must be similar to how our Heavenly Father is. He knows each of our capabilities and each of our limitations. He knows the burdens that we are called upon to bear. And whether we are physically disabled or have any other kind of disability, when we go to meet Him, He will greet us with love for accomplishing the things He knows we are capable of.

[illustration] Illustrated by Sam Lawlor