Please forgive the silence of the last couple of weeks. I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed. My mind just hasn’t been able to settle down on one thing. In the past, I have been able to write through the grief; but in the last couple of weeks, the words were not there. This time something’s different. Lately, I just want to run away or crawl into a hole and wait until the world rights its self again. Do you ever have those times?
The last time I wrote, a storm was approaching. The eastern part of the state was devastated by the storm. I wasn’t affected but friends and family were. Because of the weather, I was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to see my Dad. He had taken a turn for the worst that week. I thought he would die before I got back to see him. I didn’t want the last time I saw him to be my last. I wanted a little more time to be with him. God granted me the time I needed. It was hard seeing him though.
Dad was so frail. He was once so strong – he could do anything in my sight. He was a guiding force to me and my family. He helped us to navigate the deep waters. Dad and I never had really deep conversations. Our relationship was different. We did things together. His love language was spending time together. So I spent a lot of time with him throughout the years.
When I was younger, I did as much as I could just to be with him. I chopped wood, raked leaves, mowed grass, anything he was doing I wanted to help. We washed the cars every Saturday even changed the oil when needed, played golf when he would let me. There were only a very few times in my life that I ever played golf without him. I was always his little helper whenever he went to fix stuff – he was a good fixer – he could do anything.
As I grew older, my relationship didn’t really change with him. He has been central to my life. The thought of being without his presence has been overwhelming. However, the grief isn’t like what I experienced with my Mom. I have been grieving the loss for the last two or three years because my Dad hasn’t been the same since he had an infection. His mind was not the same after that infection. He no longer called to say hi. If I wanted to speak to him, I had to initiate the conversation.
This is truly when I lost my Dad. It was a drastic change to our relationship. That’s when my grief started. The time I spent with him over the last couple of years is still special. He still told me every time I was with him how much he loved me. He was still there just not in the usual way. I spent as much time as I could with him whenever I had the opportunity. So when the storm came two weeks ago, I was desperate to get to Dad.
I was able to spend three days with him. He wasn’t awake much, but I was able to lie beside him and just hold his hand or touch his arm. When I left that Tuesday afternoon, I had a feeling it would be the last time I saw him and it was. He died early this past Wednesday morning. I was okay with that last goodbye. I didn’t have a last conversation with him like I had with my Mom. But the one thing I wanted to do with my Mom was to lie with her and I did that with Dad. I was okay letting that be the last memory with him.
It has been heartwarming to see the tributes from my nephews concerning my Dad’s passing. Who knew when we were taking those annual family beach vacations Dad was making such an impression with those young men. Apparently, my Dad had some interesting conversations with them up on the crow’s nest – conversations they say they will never forget. Dad also taught those boys a few things about how to love a family well. They saw my Dad’s love for his daughters and his wife.
Everyone who ever met my Dad would say – Jack loves his girls – and he did, really well. Dad’s passing will be deeply felt by all of his friends and family. He loved well, but we loved him well too. He is home with Jesus and with my Mom. When he took his last breath here, he took his first real breath in eternity. What a celebration he had waiting on him. I can’t imagine all he has experienced in the last few days.
I may see his earthly shell for the last time today, but he is more alive today than he has ever been. It’s not a time of sadness but of great joy. My Dad finished his race. He completed the tasks he was assigned. The future will not be the same as it was before his passing. But we have been made richer by his presence and the things we have learned from him. Dad is still the central to who I am by what he taught me. I am forever changed because of him and I want to honor his memory well. I love you, Dad.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 1 Timothy 4:7-8