Her nickname was "Twinkle." Can you guess why?
I’ve been thinking a lot about eyes. The truth is, I’m not sure what it is I want to say. My vision for this article is a bit out of focus. I’m just really feeling compelled to talk about eyes.
Rhonda has beautiful blue eyes. It’s not just my biased opinion, one of her nicknames growing up was “twinkle”, a well-deserved moniker for the sparkle in her eyes. Over the last year her eyes have been threatened. She’s been in pain. We’ve visited many specialists, tried numerous treatments and her vision is regularly limited.
Last Thursday, our family gathered around Rhonda’s dad, Wilfred at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. After more than 20 years of battling heart issues, there are no additional treatment options and it’s unclear how long it will be before God calls him home. I’ve known Rhonda and her parents all my life, but one of my daughter-in-laws, Haley, who’s only known him a few years had a great observation and such kind words for Wilfred. She hugged him, told him she loved him and said something like (paraphrasing), “You still have that beautiful sparkle in your eyes, I will always remember that. I’m sure that’s where Rhonda got her beautiful eyes.”
Wilfred was the patriarch of Extra Touch Tours. He loved planning tours and showing people the world, but his love for that pales in comparison to his true love, his wife and his family. He loves and cherishes Harriet and his four daughters above all else. I’ve always admired how he modeled that to us his son-in-laws. His heart may be getting weak, but his eyes, the windows to his soul, are still glowing brightly with the love for family.
A few days later I had the chance to sit by my son and granddaughter in church. As I saw my son look down at his daughter on the seat between us, I saw that look in his eyes. The incomparable, unbreakable love for Harper, his daughter. Recently two families in our church lost young children in separate tragic accidents. Ever since becoming a father myself over 3 decades ago, I've thought the worst thing in life must be losing a child, an experience I hope never to have. Reflecting on Wilfred’s love for his family, my love for my family and now my son for his, I can’t help but think about my Heavenly Father’s eye’s. How he had to look down on his son and give him up willingly to pay for our sins. How much he must look at each of us with such great love that he willingly made such a sacrifice.
One of my favorite singer-songwriters Eric Clapton wrote 2 inter-related songs. “My Father’s Eye’s,” and “Tears in Heaven.” "My Father's Eyes" was inspired by the fact that Clapton never met his father, Edward Fryer, who died in 1985. Describing how he wishes he knew his father; the song also refers to Clapton's son Conor, who died at age four after falling from an apartment window. "In [the song] I tried to describe the parallel between looking in the eyes of my son, and the eyes of the father that I never met, through the chain of our blood", said Clapton in his autobiography.
None of us knows how many days we’ll have on this earth. I hope Wilfred has many left but someday soon we’ll all have a chance to look into our Father’s eyes. When Wilfred does, I’m pretty sure he is going to see that special sparkle in his Heavenly Father’s eyes reserved for the children he loves so deeply. We are created in his image. The chain of his blood flows through us. We have our Father's eyes.