Saturday, October 18, 2014

December 9th...

One of the most precious nights of my life was sitting alone, in the hospital Hospice room, in the peace and quiet of his breath.  I fought the urge to constantly update friends and family on my phone, and eventually put the devices away and realized the gift I was being given.  I felt God whisper to my heart "This is a gift.  This precious night will be one you won't soon forget.  I'm giving you the gift of your dad and you must cherish it."  I sat in silence listening to his breath, which was deep and even, and peaceful still.  The clock quietly ticked and I snuggled in my pull-out couch and just watched my Daddy.  I picked up my journal and penned 6 pages, that I would read to him only 2 days later.  Soon, the gentle rhythm of him, lulled me to sleep.  It was one of my most precious nights on this earth...

A tribute

This is what I read at my Daddy's funeral.  It was taken and re-written from what I wrote to him while he was in Hospice.   There was so much more I could have said.  Oh my Daddy, this is the tip of the iceberg...

Dear Daddy,
I was honored and privileged to spend a night with you at the Hospital Hospice and much time alone at home.  I soaked you in, and your calm and quiet breaths were music to my soul.  It was my greatest honor and blessing to care for you in your final days.  I prayed that you would go easily and comfortably without pain or fear.    I prayed that you would have no regrets or sadness from this life, and as you left this world you would only know and feel the pure and deep love we have for you.   And when heaven’s gates opened wide, I prayed that Jesus’ face would be all you saw and all you ever needed and that you would swim in His love.   I knew that all your pain would evaporate and joy would envelope you!  And I told you that once you settle in you will turn around and there we’ll be, right behind you, in merely a nanosecond and until then your memory will be forever etched into our minds and hearts.  

Daddy, I will miss so many wonderful things about you!  I will miss your crooked sweet smile, your laugh, your garage tinkering, your piles of “Stuff”. I will miss your stories about growing up at Girard College, and all of your antics and pranks.   I will miss hearing of your travels while serving overseas.  I will miss going to the Y with you and hearing you say “Take your time, I’ll finish my work out and have a cup of coffee and wait for you.”  I’ll miss our trips to Big Lots, not shopping for anything in particular, just sharing our mutual love of a goodbargain.  I’ll miss how we both wore socks to bed even in summer with our cold feet and how I inherited your way of rubbing my feet together.  I’ll miss crawling in bed between you and mom even as an adult to chat late at night, or laying next to you in bed to catch an episode of “Pickers.”  I’ll miss your pinball machine fixing, eating Braums with you, the mints you handed out weekly at church and how you loved your “greenies.”  I’ll miss how you saved everything to recycle and add to your garden compost I’ll always remember our hike up Camelback Mountain in Phoenix and how many times you came to Arizona to help me, move me, bring me a car or drive me home from graduate school for Christmas.  I’ll remember how you came up to my sorority for Dad’s day and moved me to different colleges.  I’ll miss your precious bond with my daughter, how much she adores you and talked about you all the time even when we were apart.  Don’t worry, she will never not know you!  You being gone gives me a greater sense of urgency to teach her all about Jesus so she, too, can one day join us in heaven!
I’ll cherish the lessons you taught me, like strength through adversity, your commitment to family and friends and your church, your strong work ethic, your constant generosity and gift for servitude.  I’ll miss your brilliant engineering mind and all the silly little contraptions you designed and constructed around the house.  

I’ll so miss you calling me “Sis.” I can count on my right hand the number of times you actually said my name, but Sis was so comforting because it was just for me.  

But what will remain most vivid in my memory dear Daddy isthat at the age of 62, I witnessed Christ take reign of your heart.  In you I saw the most radically changed human being of my life.  We were saved close together, so I watched your faith grow and with it, so did mine.  You taught me well and because of you, my faith is strong.  I will miss your scribbled up sermon notes and verses falling out of your Bible, the way you pouredover the Word for hours on end and our many discussions.  Through this journey you developed a sincere love for others and a gentle spirit.  I loved watching a wonderful example of the change that Christ can make in a human being to transform him to be more like Himself.  

I will miss how much you encouraged me.  You supported all of my God-given passions and ministries.  You told me I musttravel to Israel even when others warned me it was too dangerous to go.  You supported Lee and I in our quest to adopta child saying we must do what God called us to do!  (my one regret is that you will not meet your Ethiopian grandson this side of heaven.)

Oh my daddy, you fought so hard and though you have lost this battle, Jesus has won the WAR!  By now you are in the loving arms of your Savior and have heard Him utter “Well done my good and faithful servant” and your body is new, whole and free of pain and suffering!  
Jesus simply could not bear to be away from you any longer.  You are so loved and will be missed by so many.  I am so grateful that we were able to hold your hand until Jesus took it from us and walked you to your true home! I love you my precious little Daddy!  I cannot wait to one day be reunited!

You can now proudly proclaim as it states in 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Coming Home Again

My mom asked me if I didn't want to come home anymore...because it had been 9 months since I'd come, and the last time was when we lost him...Of course, consciously I did and just hadn't found a good time to come, not to mention the astronomical prices of plane tickets, but maybe, deep down, subconsciously, I had avoided the trip.

About a week before I left, I began to think about it.  How different it would be.  That HE would not be there.  That he would not be waiting for me at the end of the ramp at the aiport, lifting my too-heavy, overstuffed bag into the back of their Camry.  That we wouldn't go to the Y together, or chat over breakfast.  That he wouldn't be out tinkering in his garage when we returned from lunch or shopping.  That we wouldn't watch "Pickers" together and I wouldn't stay up late chatting in their bed.

Those thoughts haunted me before the trip, but they paled in comparison to all of the small reminders that would floor me.  Even traveling up to Jewell county to see his grave didn't phase me.  Not one tear was shed there.  Perhaps because, to me that grave is irrelevant, other than a special marker to remind us, I know that he does not reside there, but is in heaven.

It was the precious inquiries of my 2 year old, time and time and time again, "Where's Grampy?" that brought the tears.  She was reminded of him, being in that place, even though he was gone before she turned 2, she remembered.  Looking at his picture on the wall one day she said "Grampy, wanna go swing?"  Several times while swinging she pointed to the bedroom window where he spent his final days in the guest room, specifically chosen so that we could raise his bed high enough to watch his precious girls swinging.  She said "Grampy is sleeping in there.  I'll see him in a little bit."  At church she even asked Pastor Dave "Hey! Where's Grampy?"  And we were taken aback that a two and a half year old would know that Grampy's presence was always strong at that church.  And still,  every time she would swing, she would say "Grampy say 'Booga Booga'!" When we went to the zoo, she said "I want Grampy to go to the zoo!  Where's Grampy?"  The fact that the last time we went to their zoo she was only 18 months old and Grampy went with us and she remembered can only be explained as a blessing from God.  Those things crushed me.  And blessed me.  The fact that God had answered my prayers about her having her own personal memories of him, memories I hadn't told her or reminded her of through pictures or videos.  

But it was the other reminders that send my knees quivering.  The top of his dresser, empty.  No more chapstick or loose change in the tray, or lotion, or hairbrush, or random things he took from his pockets.  All gone.  And his closet, empty of his clothes, all gone, his desk and piles of stuff totally cleaned off and gone, his writing on the dry erase white board in the garage, left there, unerased, his tools and organized drawers of nails and screws, still there.  Those small and simple reminders of him
 were the most excruciating.

I always love going home, I look forward to it each and everytime.  This time, however, there was a clear and tangible physical void in our home.  There was a distinct missing piece, one that I don't suspect will ever be unfelt...I suppose in time the going home will get easier, as has grief at almost 10 months of him being gone, but for now it was so painful.

I broke down to Mom one night.  I hadn't suspected I'd have such a terrible time with it, but being there was PAINFUL, and I was ready to go back "home" to Utah, before I usually am.  I realized it was a roller coaster ride of emotions.  Being away, I didn't see the day to day of his dying, I called in for a quick update from mom, but until I got back there in December, I just didn't know.  Being home again was transporting myself back into the end, the hospice, the pain, the agony of knowing what we were about to walk through and knowing I couldn't do it!  Being home again brought it all back again, and it was fresh and vivid again.  In Utah I could choose to stop my brain from traveling back to that dark time, but in Kansas, reliving it was unavoidable.

And so, I'm back to my life and the reality that comes with it, and I can again sweep the horror under the rug for a time.  I know my Daddy wouldn't want home to hold terrible memories, and so I choose to focus on only the good times, and picture him tinkering in the garage, and going to get ice cream, and recycling the bulletins at church, and hanging out and chatting, and being my dad.  What I wouldn't give to have one  hour with him, and to hug him a few more times.