Tomorrow is Father’s Day.
It’ll be my first Father’s Day without my dad. He passed away in September.
Dad was an amazingly humble man. Generous. Honorable. Loyal. Sacrificial.
Dad was a West Point grad, an Army officer who served his country with distinction, a loving husband for over 60 years, and a father to 4 children.
He didn’t brag of his awards or achievement – in fact, many I didn’t find out about until after his death.
I have many fond memories of my dad…the time he called me up during college and sang, “I just called to say I love you!” The summer we spent together performing with a summer stock company. Watching him putter around in the garden or garage. His affection for the beauty of a clock. Playing a game of tennis with him…and him always yelling to me over the net, “Don’t forget your follow-thru!” or “Stronger wrist!”
At various times in my life I would walk with him and talk about things. He was a good listener.
His last few years of life here on earth were rough for this man’s man. He struggled a lot. And although he had accepted the Lord in his 70s, he wrestled with his faith during his last year. He wanted more answers than we could give.
He finally came to the place where he just wanted peace…God’s peace. He longed to be in His presence. There was a moment when my sister and I were sitting on either side of him, praying, laughing, and crying a bit. When both of us were longing for God to allow Him to come home….to truly be in His presence…to know complete peace. That was not the moment though.
I was blessed to be with my mom and dad on my father’s last night here on earth. I am at a loss as to how to describe the night. Death is not natural…it is awful. Watching my dad struggle…being unable to truly help him was devastating. I desperately did not want him to die…and yet, desperately wanted him free of that painful, failing body of his.
There was a moment that night when I was holding him and trying to comfort him that is more precious than I can say. My Dad couldn’t talk well…could barely whisper. (Although he could still utter a quite firm “No!” when he didn’t want us to do something – must have been the military officer in him J) I said, “Daddy, I love you so much.” And he whispered, “I love you too.” It isn’t like my dad hadn’t said it a thousand times before because he had. But in that moment when I knew every word was a tremendous labor, it meant the world to me. I would have understood a nod, but I cherished completely those whispered words.
Those were the last words my Dad said to me. How awesome is that? I’m so honored that I got to be with him that night. So thankful that God provided that opportunity.
But as I look forward to Father’s Day tomorrow…I don’t know what to do. I can tell that it has affected me more than I thought it would. Today I was invited to a graduation party, a wedding, and a birthday party. And I feel like all I want to do is hide. I just want time to think quietly. To spend with God.
That’s part of this single parent life that is challenging. Finding the time to be still, to be in God’s presence without interruption, to feel things…with 5 children around all the time, I find it hard to allow myself to truly feel things. I don’t think my children need to see the depth of my emotions. That is between God and me. Today my kids are with their Dad and I’m trying to spend the day with my Heavenly Father.
Sometimes I feel closest to Him when I write…it feels like often He is sitting right beside me. Reminding me of things. Opening my eyes to His truths. Revealing things I need to face. Soothing my heart.
I’m comfortable in His presence because I know He loves me just the way I am.
God loves me just like my dad. He speaks that love to me in a million ways. There is so much to be thankful for…my children who bring me to my knees daily in prayer, petition and thanksgiving, my family who loves me, my friends who stand by me, my home, my garden which is thriving despite my black thumb, the beautiful sky which my kids tell me I take way too many pictures of, this sunny, spring day, the sounds of spring outside – lawns being mowed, dogs barking, and birds chirping, the ice cold Coke right next to me (it’s my fav), the Bible that comforts and convicts me…so many things.
I look forward to the day when I can see my Dad again…and I look forward to the day when I will see my Savior face to face and hear His voice say, “I love you!” And I will hug Him tightly and say, “I LOVE YOU TOO!”
But I can say that now. In fact, I feel like I should live the day responding to His loving care by saying, “Father, I love you too.”
I’m so thankful that my dad is now with his and my Heavenly Father…and tomorrow when I might be tempted to be sad, I’m going to choose to instead thank my Heavenly Father for loving me so well!
And for giving me a dad here on earth who loved me too.