by Kelly Pelton (written 25 Sept 2021)

Your constant kindness these last fifty years
makes you my oldest friend, good-natured one.
I have a tender heart toward you and tears
as your health dips down like the setting sun.

Your issues with women affected me,
your daughter, striving to discern what's real;
your faithful presence overwhelmingly 
outweighed the discouragement that I feel,

for you invested your whole self in us,
two girls of a patriarchal church man.
Your pride in me enables me to fuss
at ungodly church practices, to fan

the flames of awareness among God's own.
I thank God that you're my brother in Christ
whose watching over me in fact has sown
the seeds of worth and value that no heist

or persecution can remove. This gift
of your prioritizing us has meant
more than you know, giving courage to sift
and discard even what you think God sent,

as in men in charge of women. I mean
no disrespect in rejecting gender
hierarchy, but it's now time to wean
off worldly power structures that hinder

equal input from Spirit-led Christians,
gifts expressed for the whole congregation
to be edified, ties to our missions
assigned by God, kind cooperation.

Your hobby was your daughters, no other
competing claims on your time, nothing more
important than Tracy, me, and Mother;
your ministry was family, for sure.

You'd been hurt by female domination
and insensitivity, but never
did you want to harm; your indignation
flared at some, but your girls, hardly ever.

This complicated father-daughter bond
seems simpler to me as I get older.
I realize how you've strengthened me; I'm fond
of you, Dad, whose love has made me bolder.

Never had you been punitive or torn
me down or withheld love the way some do;
never did you pressure me. Your time-worn
face lights up each day when I visit you.

You, who've excelled in "the greatest of these,"
whom I've enjoyed, respected, and adored
from the time you would bounce me on your knees,
let me watch over you now, love outpoured

as I treasure these later years with you,
your playful humor still undiminished,
our loyalty to each other a clue
of what comes after, once this time is finished.