August 12, 2015
My dad died yesterday.
He was the gentlest man I’ve ever known.
He loved the underdog. He loved hiking in the mountains. He loved his wife greater and better than any man I’ve ever seen. He loved people in ways that are uncommon and incredibly special. He was a wise and godly man. He had a special mind, able to think up games in the yard to play with his kids, or new ways to expand his business. He was tender-hearted, soft-spoken, easy to be with. He was curious, incredibly kind, slow to anger.
I want to be like him when I grow up. I want to care about others as deeply as he did. I want to be gentle and soft-spoken. I want to be wise and tender-hearted. I want to love others more than I love myself.
I got to spend what would be his last night caring for my dad. My mom, who has spent the last year tending to his every need and caring for him tenderly and selflessly, desperately needed rest, so I stayed in their room with him, awakening hourly to give him the medications that people need in the end of their lives. I went to him every time he cried out or let me know he needed or wanted something that I could give. He was incredibly agitated and nothing we had given him calmed him down or helped him rest and have peace. The only time he rested and slept peacefully that night was when I rubbed his back…….arguably one of his top three pleasures in life. At one point in those last hours, he thanked me. I told him that it was my absolute privilege to serve him. And I meant it. All those years of taking care of ME, caring about MY life, being a dad who loved me more than he loved himself, being an amazing example…..rubbing his back, bringing him a sip of cold water, whispering in the dark to try and ease the anxieties on the last night of his life, was a privilege of epic proportions. I may never ever again in my lifetime be blessed in that manner, and I will remember that night for the rest of my days.
When I’ve prayed over these last few months, when we all knew my dad was terminal, my prayer wasn’t that he would be healed. My prayer, over and over again, was to thank the Lord that He gave me my dad…..that He made me to be born into THIS family, with THIS man as my earthly father. What a blessing that was! How utterly and profoundly thankful I am to have been given the dad I was.
When I think of God, I think he’s like my dad…..gentle, wise, loving others in incredible ways, always rooting for the underdog.
As I finish writing this post, my dad has been gone now for almost 43 hours. I miss him terribly. But I’ve been wondering since he left about what all he’s seeing and doing in Heaven. I’m thrilled for him. I’m so glad he’s rid of that body he had that went bad on him in a matter of hours almost one year ago. I rejoice that his time on earth is over. But I miss his presence here with us.
It’s impossible to think of my dad without my mom. He adored her, cherished her, protected her. My mom is an incredibly admirable woman in many many ways. But the picture I’ll remember of her for the rest of my life, the one I’ll tell my children about, and revisit in my mind again and again, is the one of her caring for my dad during the nights he was at his sickest. I slept with her in their room the last few nights of my dad’s life so that I could help her listen for him and make sure he didn’t try to get out of bed in his sleep. I would wake up and see her there in the dark, leaning over his bed in her nightgown, whispering to him gently, calming him with her voice, telling him she loved him. She would straighten his covers and make him more comfortable in whatever way she could, there in the dark. I’ve birthed eleven babies, and the picture of my mom caring for my dad across the room in the night rivals the first nano-seconds of my babies’ lives when they were lifted up, slippery and red, for me to behold. I don’t know any better way of explaining to you, reader of these humble words, the magnitude of my mom’s example and how it has affected me forever.
The Bible tells us that we have the hope and promise of reuniting with those who have gone on before us if we are saved. I can’t wait to see my dad again. Until that day, I never want to forget the legacy my dad left us all.
I want to LIVE that legacy.