Friday, April 20, 2007

A Tribute

 

 

As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve been away from J-Land for quite some time.  Not only have I not written in my own journal, but I have been remiss in reading those of others - and for that my own life has been all the less rich.

 

When I began this journal, I wanted it to not just be a record of my existence but a record of the small blessings we encounter in life yet do not take the time to appreciate.  My feeling was that my life was not so remarkable that it needed recording, but that I had encountered frequent brushes with bits of wisdom and reminders of the beauty of the world that I wanted to keep and remember.

 

My journal has always been written to help me hold those moments, but when others began to read I found that perhaps those experiences could help others find their own small blessings as well. If you have taken something from these pages that has caused you to smile or to better appreciate wildflowers along the roadside, then that is all the more reward to me – and those who have then shared their own experiences have helped to  enrich my life as well.

 

This entry will differ from some of what I’ve written in the past.  It is again primarily a reminder for me and it is a celebration of sorts, although different from what you have read here previously.  It is personal and I apologize if it brings back memories for anyone who, for whatever reason,  wishes to keep them suppressed.

 

 

Last Friday, as I held his hand, my father very quietly slipped away from me and into the arms of God.

 

 

I’ve introduced my dad here before – the struggles with which he’s dealt with such grace and dignity, and all the things he’s taught me about inner strength and faith.  And while I’ve cried enough tears in the last few days to fill a small pond, in the end I only celebrate the life he led and his release from the burdens and indignities that life has heaped upon his frail shoulders these past three-plus years.

 

There have been times in life when my faith has faltered.  But all I have seen and felt in these past several days has again strengthened my belief that there is more to this life than we know or control. 

 

When I visited his hospital room last Thursday, I could hear dad talking from all the way down the hall.  When I turned the corner, I found him sitting in the chair beside his bed, oxygen mask in place, telling a long and detailed story to no one in particular.  I took a seat across from him and listened carefully to understand what he was so insistently conveying and slowly the realization came that he was providing a litany – in exacting detail – of how he spent a typical day.

 

Carefully he explained how he used the pitcher of thickened milk to make his oatmeal, how he took small bites and swallowed carefully as the doctors had directed, how he was so careful to maintain his balance during those brief periods when he rose from the wheelchair and relied upon the walker.  When he finally paused, I touched his hand and he looked toward me for the first time – so intent had been his presentation that he had not noticed my presence.  I asked if he knew who I was and he replied ‘my one and only son’ – and then proceeded to explain all the routines I followed during my visits with him – the grocery shopping, pill sorting and jar opening that had become a part of our ritual.  As he talked, the mask bounced about his face and I touched his hand again, quietly reminding him that it would stay in place and allow him to breathe easier if he didn’t talk so much.  But he looked at me and said with a hint of a smile in his weary eyes ‘but you know that’s what I do’ – and he was right, for dad was never at a loss for words and no visit could ever be long enough.

 

Finally, he stopped and looked at me, and in a very serious voice asked me a question that was obviously troubling him.  ‘When they ask my name, what do I tell them?’  Flustered, I asked him to repeat the question and he was more forceful in his reply.  ‘When who asks your name?’ I asked.  ‘The judge,’ he replied.  Confused, I asked him if he knew his name, and he replied clearly and deliberately.  Not understanding, but knowing it was important to him, I could only tell him ‘Then that’s the name you tell him’.  After that, he fell into silence and the rest of the evening was peaceful.

 

In the morning, the nurses called and told me he was having a great deal of difficulty breathing.  He was receiving 100% oxygen by mask and if his condition worsened the only available next step would be to place him on a ventilator – in violation of the terms of his Living Will.  I knew his wishes clearly and we had discussed them many times, but my decision was complicated by the fact that he had pneumonia and the antibiotics had just started to work - and I didn’t know if a day or two of help might pull him through.  I called his doctor and gathered more information, but then sought a place of silence and asked for guidance for perhaps the most important decision of my life.

 

And in a moment, the answer was clear.  Already yesterday, dad knew.  His faith was strong and sometimes literal – and the story I had heard the previous day was practice for when he stood at the Gate and needed to state his case that he had done all he could to help himself during this prolonged test of his faith.  And when the Judge asked his name, he wanted to make sure that he got it exactly right.  I let his DNR instructions stand and went to the hospital – knowing in my heart that when I left that day I would be a 52 year-old orphan.

 

We sat together most of the day and I held his hand - without acknowledgement, but squeezing tight regardless.  For all his struggles in life, his passing was the kindest possible.  He left so quietly and peacefully that I never really knew exactly when – and for that I will be eternally grateful.

 

 

 

So many times following his stroke he would ask me why he had been chosen for this particular burden.  It was not asked in the context of ‘why me?’ – for it was obvious that he was really struggling with understanding what God was asking of him and what he was expected to do.  And now in the quiet days after the uplifting visitation and service, I begin to understand that perhaps at least some of that task was to teach me grace and humor and faith in the face of adversity, to dig deep and keep going no matter the odds, to treasure life and all it holds despite the darkness of the clouds.  Much of what you have read in these pages has stemmed from the appreciation of life that I have gained from his example – and I will only hope to make all of his struggles worthwhile by holding those lessons in my heart and remembering them always.

 

At his service, the following words were read.  Although written thousands of years before and applicable also to countless who have passed before him, they ring true to the life he led and the man he was:

 

“I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”  II Timothy 4, 6-7.

 

 

As for me, my life remains blessed by friends and by people I love – and now also by a brand new angel who will now always rest upon my shoulder.

 

 

 

 

30 comments:

marainey1 said...

My sympathies to you at this time of greaet loss.  What a beautiful tribute to your  Father.  I'm glad you were able to be there with him at the end. 'On Ya' - ma

mutualaide said...

Rob, please accept my sympathy at the loss of your dad.  It is not easy to lose a parent, it is more difficult to lose the second.  Your fathers last purposeful years show through your writing and I am glad that I am able to share in those life lessons.  Offering prayers for you, your family and your dad.

gdireneoe said...

Hugs upon hugs and prayers my friend.  C.

madcobug said...

Yes, I had noticed last week that you haven't posted in a while. I am so sorry about the loss of your Father but you don't have any doubt where is is now and who he is with and is now not in any kind of pain. He sounds like he was a great Dad to you. His smile is beautiful and he looks to have had a lot of good humor about him. You were blessed to have such a man for your Dad. May God continue to be with you in the days ahead. Helen

fitzzer said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I know how difficult this must be for you. It's never easy having to say goodbye to a loved one, but I'm glad you were able to be there with him. big hugs, ~ lori

midwestvintage said...

 I am so sorry for the loss of your father.  I am glad you had that last conversation.  He told you a lot and you listened.

                    Julie

nhd106 said...

What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man.   I'm sorry for your loss but glad you had the opportunities that you had to share with your dad.

Nancy

emabecmar said...

A beautiful tribute to your father. So sorry for your loss.
Cindy

mariebm56 said...

As I read this beautiful tribute, the words blurred from tears, I thought he must have been such an amazing man because his son turned out to be just as wonderful as his father.  You have such a gift....& you are truly blessed to have had this man in your life~  {{{HUGS}}}
With Deepest Sympathy~
Marie

grofsand said...

Amongst his greatest deeds....he was a wonderful example for you to follow!  Your beautiful tribute to him is proof that he subtley taught you the importance of the many facets of Love.
Communing my thoughts and prayers your way...Peace....Marc

rbrown6172 said...

i'm so sorry for your loss...but what a wonderful tribute to a wonderful father.  God be with you and give you peace and comfort in the next months ahead.
gina

inafrnz247 said...

A beautifully written tribute to a remarkable man who taught his son well.  Wishing you inner peace and quiet understanding, as your dad's memory lives on in your heart.  ~ M

sugarsweet056 said...

Wonderful tribute, I know your Dad is proud!
My condolences on your loss, may god bring you peace.
Sugar

http://journals.aol.com/sugarsweet056/SUGARSLIFE/
my other journals are on my side bar


jckfrstross said...

new to your journal:) Helen sent me over. I am so sorry on the passing of your Dad. what a great man. hope  you have a great weekend. i have added  you to my alerts so i will be back

Deb

jeanno43 said...

I was directed here by Helen and have been moved to tears but this beautiful tribute to your dear Father.  You sound such a loving and caring son and I am glad you were with him right until the very end and abided by his wishes.  Yes, you have a new angel looking down on you and he will never leave you even if you cannot see him.  God bless you at this sad time but remember, his suffering is over and he is in the arms of the Lord.

http://journals.aol.co.uk/jeanno43/JeannettesJottings/

jeadie05 said...

I also came here at Helens suggestion Rob ,what a lovely if moving tribute to a very dear Father ,now at rest ...love Jan xx   http://journals.aol.co.uk/jeadie05/Serendipity/

lanurseprn said...

Hello, my name is Pam. I came here via Helen's journal.  Your entry today is so touching. I offer you my condolences.  
Pam

pharmolo said...

I was asked by Helen [madcobug] to come to your journal.
I would like to offer my condolences on your loss, and wish you strength for the weeks and months to come.

Guido
http://journals.aol.co.uk/pharmolo/NorthernTrip

springangel235 said...

What a beautiful and handsome man, your Dad was...and so is his son.  I recently lost my Mom, felt your same words...and as you did with your Dad, I held my Mom's hands...as she passed.  We all, here at j-land, are here for each other, good and bad times...sad times too.  You made my heart skip a beat with your entry...and your Dad would be so proud.  Take care....Joyce,
I was guided here by Guido and Helen both...

bebadpb said...

DIDN'T THEY MAKE A SONG LIKE YOU?  JIMMIE

motoxmom72 said...

Hello.  I came to your journal through Guido.  What a beautiful tribute you have written for your Dad.  I have added you to my prayers.
Hugs,
Gina
http://journals.aol.com/motoxmom72/GinasWeigtLossJourney  

ab45yui said...

What a wonderful tribute to your father!  He was very blessed and it would appear you were too, such love between father and son.  May God comfort and give you peace during this time!  My sincere sympathies on the loss of your Father!  God Bless!

tendernoggle said...

Helen sent me....I am so very sorry for your loss....
He looks like the sweetest person in this picture...I can see the love shining in his eyes!!!
I know he was a wonderful daddy and also that you will miss him dearly....
Again I am soooooo sorry.
carlene

bhbner2him said...

I am so thankful and glad you decided to share these words, these remembrances here on these pages.  I know they will bless others.  I pray comfort and peace for you in the days ahead.  Sorry we met in these circumstances.  -  Barbara

dizarra said...

Oh, that was wonderful! I loved your writing two years ago, and I am reminded
how much, as I read this; he was your father and he deserves this Tribute-thank
you for sharing it with us! ~Diane~

bedazzzled1 said...

How could I possibly not read this entry? It took me some time before I was able to...you know me and death.

Poignant are your words. Perfectly suited for the man wearing red and a smile.

I know how much you will miss him, and how his passing will affect your daily life. A good soul he was. With a son who has an equally good one. Like father, like son.

Love~

Me

helmswondermom said...

What a beautiful tribute to your father.  I am so very sorry for your loss.  I lost my father almost five years ago, and I still miss him much.  Your father sounds like a very wonderful man.
Lori

kaydeejay5449 said...

I am so very sorry for your loss.   At the same time, I am so pleased to know that your father is in the arms of God and that one day, you will be with him again.  What hope and peace that must give you.  My own father died on March 19 after a short illness.  I am grieving, too.  I reach out to you today with the heart of someone who knows your pain and your joy.  My father loved God as your father did.  It made letting him go so much easier and I have such peace.  May God bless you and keep you in His care now and always.
Sincerely,  Kathy

jlocorriere05 said...

I'm sorry to hear your sad newsabout your father. I can tell by reading that you loved him dearly. The photo of him is lovely, he looked such a bright happy man, full of love and kindness. Jeannette xx  http://journals.aol.co.uk/jlocorriere05/Welcometomytravels/  

rjet33 said...

I am here by way of Helen's journal.  I am sorry, I am so behind on reading my alerts.  I just wanted to offer my condolences.  My beloved FIL, who was like a second father to me, passed in October.  I felt a lot like you do about him in your tribute to your Dad.  He was an amazing man and he taught me a lot.  I can tell by the way you wrote this tribute that your Dad has been an important part of your life, how much you loved and admired him, and I know from my own experience of losing my Dad in '91 what lies ahead of you.  I still miss my Dad and sometimes still even cry for him, but I rejoice that he is no longer impaired by a sick body (bad heart) and I will be with him again one day.  He was a minister and raised me in the ways of the Lord.  It is a beautifully written tribute and I know it would make him proud.  He is your angel now, as you say, watching over you.  Continue to make him proud.

God Bless,

Susan
http://journals.aol.com/Rjet33/CountryLivingSouthernStyle/
http://journals.aol.com/Rjet33/MyPicturePostcardJournal/