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He held on to me.

Okay, this is not going to be like Chris’ unbelievable tribute to me in his blog last month. I have to say that I am just not that good!

If you will give me about three minutes of your time though, I promise you I will describe the man I married who is simply the best father I know. Yes, I am going to honor my father, too, because he is still happily living his life, and it is always a blessing to honor him.

Let me start with my dad, Major General (Ret.) Robert C. Gaskill, Sr. Yes, I did write that out completely so that you could feel the full weight of his title and give him honor, too. He served honorably in the Army for 29 years. Since my mom was a stay-at-home mom, he had the sole responsibility to provide well for our family of six. Although I never really wanted for anything growing up, my father believed strongly in hard work, and he made sure we all valued integrity in the workplace and the privilege of earning an income. I earned money babysitting, working as a bagger at the commissary, doing office work during the summers, and yes...shining those black dress uniform shoes and ironing his military uniform shirts. I never minded working. Mine was a privileged childhood filled with military travel and military base festivities. My dad just celebrated his 90th birthday in style, and he has no intention of resting any time soon. He still cares deeply for those around him.

My Chris, on the other hand, is a retired Air Force physician who was “allowed” (just kidding) into our family even though he was not going to join my dad’s branch of service. There were many discussions through the years about the Army’s versus the Air Force’s superiority. As a retired Colonel who faithfully served 26 years, Chris is outranked, so he humbly submits when my dad is around! They both make a wonderful combined example of commitment to our country for our kids and many around them.

So how did I feel jumping from my cocooned Army household to my new Air force household in my sophomore year of college without missing a beat? I didn’t know any better. I just knew that these two men who I deeply loved, along with the military, had taken care of me in the past and that they would do the same in my future. Choosing Chris Henderson has proven to be the best decision of my life.

Now understandably, I did not expect perfection in my future husband. I did not look for a man of great wealth or—one who was winning a popularity contest. I really was not looking. Still, I did write down five characteristics in my very late teens. My husband one day would:

— Love God.

— Lead our family well.

— Love music.

— Love children...lots of them.

— Have a heart for service or ministry of some kind.

Within a few days of meeting him, it was obvious to me that Chris was all five of these things, and more. Yet, I never calculated that I would need a man for most of my married life who could hold me together when our world seemed to be falling apart. How could I ever have foreseen that character quality in a 21-year-old college student?

For everyone who knows and loves Chris, there is a deep respect for what he does as a physician. But that is only a tiny part of who he really is. His deep commitment to his patients is widely known, but what is perhaps not so apparent is that this same unwavering care crosses over into every part of his life.

We jokingly say in our family that if you need a bandage or a Tylenol, you can go get it yourself! And, more to the point, we say that if you are not in the ICU, your medical problem is probably not worth calling Dad about. No, seriously; we say that often. That’s the military and medical family way: “If you can handle it yourself, then do so.”

That did not work very well, however, with a medically fragile child who was always visiting the ICU. Each day was crucial. Each day needed Chris’ input. And no matter how hard I tried to muster up my military and medical family strength, I needed someone to hold me. I needed Chris to see Robert in the ICU, and realize that I was in every way there, too. My husband/doctor needed to be there for both of us, and all four of our other children. Lead our family well? He has passed that test from Day One.

We also have so many combined stories as a family of the times that we did not do it exactly right. I know most of you have similar stories. As a community of special needs families, we know that often the percentage of families that remain together is very low. Let’s be honest...this is very hard work financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is not for the weak.

Nevertheless, I found a young man. I married that young man not knowing what kind of strength he possessed. I realize now that some fathers are called to the service of others. Chris is definitely one of those men called to service for his God, his country, his family, his wife, and his Robert.

I know you were probably expecting a very deep, eloquent post about this man of mine. Today, I can only give you what I feel at this moment. I am grateful for a soul mate in this life who is willing to serve wherever he is sent.

For this woman, he has served and held on to me with sacrificial love. I am grateful every single day.

Listening Library: Hold On To Me (Lauren Daigle)

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

Hold On To Me

When the best of me is barely breathin' When I'm not somebody I believe in Hold on to me

When I miss the light the night has stolen When I'm slammin' all the doors You've opened Hold on to me Hold on to me

Hold on to me when it's too dark to see You When I am sure I have reached the end Hold on to me when I forget I need You When I let go, hold me again

When I don't feel like I'm worth defending When I'm tired of all my pretending Hold on to me

When I start to break in desperation Underneath the weight of expectation Hold on to me Hold on to me

Hold on to me when it's too dark to see You (I'll hold on) When I am sure I have reached the end Hold on to me when I forget I need You (I'll hold on) When I let go, hold me again

I could rest here in Your arms forever 'Cause I know nobody loves me better Hold on to me Hold on to me

Songwriters: Paul T. Duncan, Lauren Daigle, Paul Brendon Mabury

Hold On To Me lyrics © Centricsongs, Centricity Music Publishing, See You At The Pub

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