He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. – Clarence Budington Kellend
Today I come face to face with what I have thought I had been aware of most of my life….no one lives forever; it is appointed to us that every man must die. I know this is not something that we regularly speak of; it’s unpleasant and no one wants to dwell there. Of course, I have always known death as a fact of life…a detail tucked away along with thousands of other little pieces of information swimming around in my upstairs compartment, but that knowledge never hit home for me as much as it has today.
I received a call from my sister last evening that my father was in the hospital once again; this time for double pneumonia. This scene has been played out numerous times over the past few years in varying degrees and so I was not too overly concerned about it. My father being in the hospital was not new. It has happened before and everything would turn out fine this time too. He will get antibiotics, some much needed rest, and be up and about again in no time. The practical, detail oriented nurse in me quelled any worry; no need to panic. That was yesterday.
Today, in the light of day, the daughter of my father aches. Time here, is not a healer, and in my heart I begin to understand what all this means. The day is coming when my father will no longer be with me here on this earth. God will call him home, and while that will be a special moment for my father, the ones he leaves behind will mourn his passing. I am preparing my heart to let go and this is no easy task.
At this time the difficult moments trickle away like sand and all that comes to mind are those special moments we shared together. One of my favorite moments with my father, that helped to shape my love of adventure, was spent in a car barely large enough to fit our family of six. A few times a year, my father would have a hankering to see the brothers and sisters he left behind in Michigan when he settled down in California. A few days strung together, usually around the holiday’s, would find our car packed to the brim with my mother, father, and four kids, off on a road trip. The journey usually consisted of a 3 day non-stop drive, a few days visiting relatives, and a return 3 day drive home.
Being the youngest and smallest in the family I was usually relegated to the rear deck in the back of the car (the little area above the back seat of the car and below the window), or on a small pillow on top of the hard center console in the front seat. Seat belts, if you could even find them in the car, were just a suggestion, and in our family, at the time, never seriously considered.
As strange as this seating arrangement may seem to most of you, I viewed them as the best seats in the car. For one, I was able to stretch out and lay down in the back seat compartment window and no one else had such a luxury! Driving 3 days straight in a cramped car didn’t give much opportunity for a comfortable night’s sleep. Secondly, most of the time spent on the center console up front with my dad was in the middle of the night when everyone else was attempting to sleep; a peaceful and quiet time. I was the keeper of the thermos of hot coffee and it was my important job to help my father stay awake. Those moments of one on one time with him were precious to me and very rare. I treasured them immensely and still do. To this very day, 40 something years later, I think of those special moments when I am driving and the sun peaks up over the horizon.
Thanks dad for the way you worked hard to provide for your family as we were growing up. I never heard you complain about the work load; I just watched you go about doing what needed to be done. I understand now why you were absent so often. You were busy providing for our needs.
I can appreciate now the fierce loyalty you showed to your wife and our mother. The example you set for me to follow is an excellent one that I didn’t always understand. You lived out allegiance and left its path for me to follow. I am grateful.
I remember your kindness today….the ready and willing heart to help anyone who was in trouble or had a need. Your word was your bond and could always be depended on. I never had to worry when you made a commitment if you would keep it. The thing was always as good as done; a great testament to who you are.
I say all these things to you now dad, because I don’t want to waste another minute of this life in fear that you do not know how much I love, appreciate and respect you as a man and as my father. I have already waited far too long to tell you these important things.
You did good dad, you did good.
A Tribute to my Father shared with:
My life Abundant: Fabulous Fathers Day Favorites Party
Oh My Heartsie Girl: Monday Reflections
Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyholic: Finish the Sentence Friday