I am Cynthia, soon nicknamed Cindy, the first born of the Hungerford clan. I was the first girl in several generations in the family and so a big surprise for everyone. My dad cared for me in those first months of my life as he was finishing his PHD and my mom was working as a designer in Knoxville. I’ve carefully read my baby book and believe that for the first time in his life my Dad experienced unconditional love with me. He wouldn’t have characterized it as such, because he didn’t know what it was nor had he experienced it aside from my mother’s love. But as I grew up and until he went to be with Jesus, Daddy and I had an understanding and a special relationship.
I believed everything he said and tried — until my teens anyway — to do everything he wanted me to. In first grade, I told my teacher that my dad said the moon was made of green cheese. She said absolutely not! But I argued with her and got sent to the principal’s office. I explained that my dad said it—so it was true! Poor Daddy, he had to go down to the principal’s office and explain and apologize!
When Dad died, I had all these flashbacks of him and me. At six, my first Christmas I remember the handmade doll furniture for my doll. My first bike and teaching me to ride without training wheels. A Halloween parade where he made me the most a awesome tail that curled and pitchfork for my devil costume—this was before we knew any better!
When I broke my arm playing Tarzan and Jane and he ran all the red lights to get me to the hospital. The weekend trips around Texas, to San Jacinto Memorial, to New Braunsfels where I rode my first horse.
Of course in my teens things changed a lot! I wanted to be a part of the crowd. Dad didn’t want me out there at all. I seemed to get grounded all the time. When I was 15, I was grounded and had to ask him to please let me go with my boyfriend to his prom-he relented and let me go. But I had to be home by 1am and couldn’t go to the beach with everybody or have breakfast with them. I didn’t understand why? When I was 16 and had my birthday party at home and the kids started dancing—he shut it down. I was mad at him for a long time. I didn’t care that our church preached against dancing and he was a deacon—and needed to adhere to the church’s doctrines. But that was Dad-at that point in his life he was still about works and earning his salvation.
Life with my dad was not easy as a teen, but after I married my Dennis at 29, I seemed to finally grow up and when we moved toTampa in 1984, I purposed to have a closer relationship with both my parents. This led to much visiting and really getting to know my father as a person. For this, I really have to thank my husband. Because it was to him that my dad opened up. Dennis is a little older than I and studied and read quite a bit about World War II. I guess he encouraged my dad to talk, because talk he did! I would be around for some of it, but I would use that time to take my mom out to shop, do her hair, nails, etc. So Dennis would fill me in when I questioned him about the rest of the stories! For the first time, I heard about his early life and his war years. I finally understood why he was the way he was—military straight, absolutes because of his nuclear physics education and lack of love in his home growing up. When he stood at my mom’s funeral and said that she was the first person to love him unconditionally-he was being truthful. I am glad that I had come to love him unconditionally long ago. First in obedience to God‘s word, but then simply because I loved my dad and could never stay mad at him long!
After mom’s funeral, he came to stay with Dennis and me for three weeks.It was a precious time I am so thankful for now. We talked about his salvation experience and his great regrets in his life. How very much he loved his children, but couldn’t express it. How proud he was of everyone for their teaching their own children about Jesus. That we, his children were believers. That was his greatest legacy. I was sent a card by one of my staff at work. It said “Remember that your father left the world a legacy in the good and caring person that you have grown to be. And in this time of sadness may it help comfort you to know that he is still a part of all you are and do.
I had thought to write a Father’s Day tribute, but this one which I tweaked a little from the eulogy for him is the best one I could have ever written for him. The Bible has a lot to say about Fathers. They are to honored. We are to heed their instruction. In fact it says several times to honor and to heed. At least in the last years of his life, my dad knew I loved him-even on the day that he thought that he would lose my love if he told me his story. All I cared about was that he had a story!
The day that we cleaned out his apartment and we were on our way home coming across I-4. I was crying and praying. I asked the Lord for a sign that Mom and Dad were up there with Him and singing and dancing… I knew (or thought I knew, I was wrong) that God didn’t give signs but please God give me a sign. I need a sign so much. And just a minute or two later, here comes a little red plane buzzing by our car and then up in the sky he goes and begins to draw…a … smiley face…and then he is writing…Jesus…loves…you! well, there was my sign. How else could an airplane draw up by our car, then do draw a smiley face and write Jesus love you-right after I have asked for the sign? to read a sign in the sky, you have to be in just the right place as we were. I called all my sibs and told them. I think they were just as happy to hear this as I was to see it!
There have been a lot of changes in the family since Daddy died. My youngest sister has had 2 little boys a year apart. My oldest granddaughter has accepted the Lord Jesus into her heart.And she has a new sister who is now 3. A couple of my brothers kids have graduated high school and started college and he and wife Lesley had one more little girl and my sister’s kids-Anna graduated college this year and Beau started this year and made DEAN’s list. Dad would have been proud. He would have been thrilled with all the babies! He might have had a hard time interacting with children especially as he got older and couldn’t hear, but there was no one that loved having his family around more than he did.
I am better with my grieving now of course than I was even a year ago. But I still cry and I still miss him-and my momma too of course. I had no idea that they were so much my foundation–but in losing them, I found my God who said He would now be my father. He would be my Rock and my Foundation. He would provide for me, protect me, care for me, teach me all things-including trusting him implictly. Hard lesson to learn but wonderful peace to have. Not that He was not there before, but now it is only Him. I love you, Daddy.