It has been thirty-seven years since my Dad left this earth. It could be yesterday. We did many things together. He built my brothers and me a swing out of a steering wheel. We hung on for dear life when he turned the wheel. He built us a mini-house for our sand pile for hours of fun play in the sunshine. We had a pet baby goat to feed with a bottle. We knew him as a disciplinarian and a man who expected the best from his children. He often said all I can give you is my name. Be honest and be true!
We grew up in the depths of the depression of the 1930’s. We often did without, yet he provided enough for us by hours of walking 20 miles a day or delivering special delivery letters. Dad loved to laugh and he adored his grandchildren, often ‘baling hay’. A game he devised where he had more exercise than his grandkids. He loved music and led singing on Sunday nights in church. He spent hours with Mom trying to match his voice to the note she played on the piano. He sang with great enthusiasm.
We learned growing up Dad always got the biggest piece of pie or cake from Mom. They lived a true love story. Dad’s word was always the last word. He wanted to be best Dad there was with the gifts God gave him. He taught a Sunday School Class of rambunctious teen boys. He practiced his lesson on Saturday night with us. On Saturday nights we headed for the living room after our baths, and Dad told us the stories from the Old Testament. This way I learned many stories from the Bible. He was much more captivating as a storyteller than the hero stories kids watch today.
Then came the moment when his heart just could not sustain life anymore. Our family sat in the hospital room, his feet were cold, and he had small heart attacks, one after another. At the last moment, before his heart was stilled, he gave us a gift of love and joy. The smile on his face taught us about the glory of God in death, with his last breath.
Seven years before this, I wrote the following;
As I sit by my sleeping Daddy’s side
In a room full of suffering and pain
My eyes drift into sleep, from sleep to sleep.
Suddenly I feel a Presence. And a shadow flits by.
My eyes open wide, I see no one.
What is the Presence I feel so near?
Is it Death? Death who comes to claim my Daddy Dear?
Is Death a Friend or a Foe? Can I let my Dad with Him go?
Then I read the promise in God’s Holy Word.
And know that I must let my Daddy go
Daddy has heard God’s Word and he believes.
Death may take Daddy by the hand,
And lead him to that Eternal Life-Land – 1972
With Dad’s last breath, I remember the lessons Dad taught me about living in God’s will, believing in Jesus with my whole heart and mind. Even his discipline taught me lessons I will remember.
When he finally closed his eyes in death, I remember saying, My Dad is with you, God, and now You, Abba Father, are my Father in Heaven. Dad gave his last gift to me by placing my hand into the Hand of God. How deep is your love for me! My desire to become totally God’s Child was overwhelming then and now.
I would like to say I became altogether perfect in all things. No, no one is perfect. Jesus is the One who is Perfect. As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. Romans 3:10-11
Living with memories is not enough, yet Living with my Heavenly Father is forever. Each day is a step of faith and trust in my Heavenly Father.
On this Father’s Day, I honor my husband, the father of our children. In so many ways, I can see his love for his children through the years. He wants all to know the love of God is so deep, that even dementia cannot erase his heart of love for God the Father and His Son Jesus.
His children remember their love for their Dad. In 1992, our four children wrote: A storm making the furnace go off and on, but it is OK, I always feel safe and sure when Dad is home — When I was home sick, he came with a butterscotch milkshake, I enjoyed the day with just the two of us — How did my Dad do it all? Between working the long hours, fixing things and have family time with us — My Dad introduced me to the world and made it a place I felt safe to explore. There was always a safe haven somewhere for me, with my Dad.
Our children have learned from their Dad as I did from mine, that our ultimate love and trust dwells in our Heavenly Father. We continue to learn that our Lord God who created Heaven and Earth, sent Jesus to be our Savior.
This Father’s Day, I remember the Dad I did not choose, yet who loved us all. I remember the Dad of my children I chose, gentle and loving, and yet expecting the best. The Dad who continues to teach and to guide even in the depths of dementia. And I thank my Lord God who placed these two men in my life, who taught me the true meaning of my Father God who numbers our days on this earth. I praise Him, too, for our three sons who are loving fathers, too. I praise God for ‘loving days’ and ‘learning days’. Thank you, Lord.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in. From this time forth, and even forevermore. Psalm 121:1-2, 7-8