It’s been a few months now since I lost my Dad. The grief of it all still comes and goes. I don’t really know what to expect as far as when I will be on the other side of it… I am handling it better today, at least I think I am. I have been saying it comes in waves and I guess the waves are smaller and coming in with less frequency. However, there isn’t a single day that passes that I don’t think about my dad.
My sisters and I decided that we’d all visit his grave for Father’s Day this year. It’s weird being down here though and not being able to just go by and see him. I got emotional just driving by his exit on the freeway. I think the hardest part right now for me is that I just want to call him. I want to hear his voice, his laugh, and his very poor attempt at humor…
It was a pretty stressful time the last few months of Dad’s life, for all of us. Watching him deteriorate and all of the unknown of the future. I looked forward to calling or texting him every morning for the morning report when I wasn’t with him. When I was, the mornings were always very interesting. I never knew how it was going to go, especially if there was something Dad had set his mind to do. Once that happened, he had a one-track mind.
For the most part, our Dad had a really great attitude about it all. He was a fighter. Way more than I ever knew before. A true fighter with a very positive outlook on life itself no matter what the circumstance. He definitely had his moments when the reality of his circumstances would overwhelm him but he had a very strong faith. This is something I learned of just recently.
A Man on A Mission
Like I said before, once Dad set his mind to do something, there wasn’t much that could stop him. A few days before his passing Dad decided he wanted to take a ride on his cart and press the battery to see how far it could go. This was all in preparation for a future visit to Vegas that all of us knew he wasn’t going to make.
So as he started to pull out of the driveway he reminded me that we talked about Habit Burger for lunch. “Let’s Go” and off he went with me following behind. So I am doing my best to keep up while texting my wife and my sisters what’s currently happening. I look back and laugh in admiration of the man now. But, at the time, I was pretty beside myself and didn’t know what to think at all. He just wasn’t about to let anything slow him down or stop him. Not cancer, kidney failure, any number of other things going wrong in his body, least of all his son trying to slow him down to catch up.
I was blessed to get the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him during his last few months. We had some really great conversations, watched some really old westerns, laughed at some bad jokes, talked about his strong faith, the years he spent in ministry, and what I was doing in ministry.
A few things really stood out going through all of this with Dad. First, don’t just dream, make plans, and talk about things you want to do. Take action. I will never forget the statement Dad made not long after we told him his actual prognosis. “Oh, the things I was going to do.” Ouch.
Second, family is everything and so important. My sisters and I came together like never before to take care of Dad and each other. We have our issues and our differences but we love each other very much and are closer now, more than ever. I love them both so very much. Don’t waste time or let it slip by without making time for them or telling them that you love them.
Lastly and most importantly, love. Love yourself, love others, and love well. My Dad loved people. That was never more evident than in the last days and at his funeral. The amount of people and stories that came out of the woodwork in regards to Dad and how he loved and took care of people was overwhelming. We used to joke and call him the Mayor of Irvine because he always said that he’d never met a stranger.
I feel like God really used this time…. for both of us. I got the kind of time with my Dad that I hadn’t had in a long time and some that I don’t think I ever really experienced. We connected on a level that we never had before. There were no doubt some very frustrating moments but God used all of it for good. A lot of tears, healing, a lot of learning, and a whole lot of love.
My Dad led people to follow Jesus, loved people well, and impacted lives. He was a good man with a great heart and in the last few months of his life he taught me everything I needed to know about him and what’s important.
Thank you Dad, I love you.