When my Dad died one month before Dan and I got married. It was overwhelming. I cannot fully fathom why, but I could not speak at his funeral. Perhaps grief clouded my thinking and, perhaps I was afraid of the storm of emotion within me. Afraid that it would overcome me, that I would wail, unrestrained. Perhaps at the time I could not imagine what words would truly represent the depths of my feelings for him.
So, on a Father’s Day I sat down to put words to paper. To pay tribute to my Dad.
Thinking of my dear Dad today.
Time has passed, it has been so many years now, but oh, how I loved you. Oh, how you are missed.
How to live
Dad, you taught me how to live; showed graciousness, kindness and the utmost of gentleness. You had a tender heart Dad, and I loved that about you. I remember you patting my cheek and calling me your wee lassie. I love how you played with me. How we pretended to be dolphins diving in and out of the water with glee in Tarkwa Bay in Africa. I remember hearing a “Ho, ho, ho,” on Christmas Eve and how excited Santa made it to the heat beleaguered land of Nigeria.
You loved Jesus, and you showed it. At morning’s light and in the evening, you prayed and read the Bible. I watched you live generosity and serve with your whole heart. There were difficulties, and it wasn’t easy for you, but you persevered through the tough times. You always pointed me toward my Heavenly Father when I became overcome with doubt or worry.
Though I left home at 23, you never let me be sassy to Mom, you taught me that respect is vital and that honour is important. You taught me manners matter, and people are important, and have dignity and worth. You taught me laughter and a sense of humour are keystones in life, the grease that gentled the grinding of the wheels.
I remember the times you prayed for me, all the through the years, through many difficulties and challenges. The way you supported me when my first marriage ended. Not only did you show Geoffrey love as a grandfather; you became a true role model of what a loving Dad really looked like. Your heart broke for all I had been through. Gave me affirmation and no judgment when it became clear divorce was the only option.
There are so many stories to tell. The way you wept when Elisabeth died, how grief broke you anew; how you showed me it is okay to cry, and, to question. To lean hard on the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with all of our griefs.
We took delight in the way you loved your grandchildren, playing with them, talking to them, drawing pictures with them and for them, reading to them. Loving them.
How to die
Finally, Dad, you taught me what it looked to die with dignity and to die with your eyes fixed on Jesus. You were a class act, a gentleman right up to the end. When people came to visit, you expressed concern for their well-being – though fighting for breath and life. You expressed your love for every one of us. We waited with you as you made that final journey, from this world to the next.
I remember you telling us, “that He, God does all things well.” I remember the shock I felt when you said that, how could this death be something well done? Now, I understand you looked at the big picture, your life and death in the light of eternity. Difficult to process, but it brought a measure of peace. You, reiterating your faith in the Sovereign and Incomprehensible One. Telling us in the unknowable, there is One who is known, One who will never ever leave us or forsake, One who knows what the end of the story is and it is good.
I remember your last words, “I love you all,” and, “tell my grandchildren I love them.” And, we watched you, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out; then, nothing.
There I stood, touching you, running my hand over your face and down your arm, my Dad, dear Daddy, gone.
Never had I understood the part of the gospels where the women prepared the body of Jesus for burial; thought touching someone who is dead must have been awful. But, when Dad died, I came to know, this was the final goodbye, this gentle touch. No wonder they anointed that precious One with oils wrapped Him tenderly with grave-clothes. Now, I understood it; it made sense.
The end of the story is Resurrection. One day we will see those we have loved and lost. In this, the in-between, we mourn and we miss, though we are not without Hope.
I am so grateful for the life my Father lived, for all the things he taught me and for the memories I cherish.
Dad, I love you; and I miss you. I look forward to that great day, when all our tears will be wiped away, and we will be, finally, together again.