Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Remembering Daddy

For most who have not heard, my precious Daddy went to be with the Lord recently — Feb. 29, 2012, to be exact. Leave it to my Daddy to go out on a day that only comes around every 4 years. In life, he liked to think of himself as unique, and it is only fitting that he died on that day.
Thank you to everyone who has sent well-wishes, who have sent up prayers for us or who came out to his memorial service. To everyone who has called to check on me and my family, everyone who has pitched in to help with the expenses or who have even helped me start the process of cleaning up his place in Centerville: Thank you! Thank you to all his neighbors and to my family members who checked on him while he was still with us ... be it to make sure he had groceries, medicines or physical care. "Thank you" seems like such small words, but more profound words escape me right now. You will never know the depth of my gratitude.
I miss him so much already! I cannot explain this hole left in my soul. I know he wasn't my child; I was his, but all the same I feel a part of me died with him.
But I am not angry, bitter or upset at God. No, not at all. Instead I praise God that daddy is finally healed and whole; that he is not suffering anymore.
Ya know ... my daddy was born premature. It seems lung issues would always be an issue for him. He defied the odds though -- especially those of 1954. Daddy weighed just barely over a pound when he entered this world; I've been told countless times about how he could fit in the palm of your hand. His parents were told he would never make it ... but God!
Then, as he grew and his "club feet" became more apparent, his parents were told that he would never walk ... but God!
Over and over God placed my daddy in the hands of caring people and skilled surgeons. He had numerous surgeries to correct the ligaments in his legs and was repeatedly casted for "special shoes." I remember how daddy used to always tell me how he wore shoes like Forrest Gump when he was a child.
Daddy used to tell me stories about crawling around on his belly and talking to Jesus -- telling God, "Lord if you'll just let me walk ... " And walk he did! Because of God.
Daddy walked with a limp for the rest of his life, but ... those of us who wrestle with God over our life's blessings usually do.
So ... I'm not at all bitter at God, but rather I am grateful. Grateful for the life he gave my daddy and for the time I had him.
It was 9 years ago that he was diagnosed with end stage COPD. Then, around Thanksgiving of 2006 when he was hospitalized in Baptist Hospital's ICU, I was told to say my good-byes then. And in some way that is just what I've been doing ever since -- grieving him and his death before he was ever even gone. In a way, I feel that was God's was of preparing me for my daddy's passing.
I have often woken up in the wee hours of the morning just certain that he was gone. I would catch my breath then dial his number to make sure he was still here. It didn't matter if it was 3 a.m., daddy always welcomed the call. It wasn't till  after he passed that I found out about his sleep apnea. Who knows ... maybe in those wee hours he had stopped breathing; maybe he had left us. Either way, it wasn't his time then.
I miss him something awful now though. I know this wound is still fresh and that I have to keep pushing myself to move on, but ... well ... it's minute by minute. I breath in; I breath out and then I just keep pushing on. But I miss him.
I last spoke to him the night before he died. We talked for maybe 5 minutes. If I had only known I would never hear his voice again, I would've told him a million times that I loved him. Three weeks before that was the last time I saw him. Ellie and I spent the night at his place in Centerville. I spent most the night chasing her rather than caring for him. They fell asleep around the same time. I kept checking in on him to make sure he was still breathing. The next morning I got up and made him breakfast -- 2 fried egg sandwiches. Not long after that I was hurrying out his door to chase down the other responsibilities in my life. Had I only known that would've been the last time I would see him I would have lingered. I would've talked to him about nothing, watched a TV show with him before I left, held his hand a little while longer, hugged him just a little tighter ... something.
But how could I have known? Even though we spent years preparing for his passing, knowing how he would die, we still couldn't have known when. Someone you know could be diagnosed with cancer today, told the exact time and day they will die and it will still come as a shock when they do.
I dunno ... maybe somewhere in my spirit I did know. The wee morning wake-ups were coming more and more frequent, and on Feb. 16th I woke up at 4 a.m. and started writing his eulogy. I just felt led to do it for some reason. Another God-thing I guess. No ... I know it was God, because there was no one else but me to speak for him when his memorial came.
He had been home-bound for at least 3 years and though he had many church friends and was devoted in his faith, he had no pastor. I didn't want some funeral director who didn't know my daddy to speak up for his spirituality. That would've been so impersonal. No. No one was gonna speak up for my daddy but me! I felt in my heart like it was something I was meant to do. I'm so glad I woke up that morning and had most of it already written. God is good.
And sure ... there were others who got up and shared memories about him, but when it came to "preaching" the funeral, I know that is something I was anointed by God to do. It was only by His grace that I got through it.
And now ... now I know what it truly means to be homesick. I'm not suicidal, but I am ready to die. I hope someone out there understands what I mean by that. Now I have someone to look forward to. Not that I didn't already have Christ -- I do. But let's be honest: None of us alive today have never actually seen Jesus, talked to him, walked beside him, held his hand, hugged his neck and so on. Sure we all have had spiritual experiences, and because of the Holy Spirit we know that we are not alone, that we can have a relationship with God and that in the spirit realm He walks beside us, but somehow we can't get our minds around seeing Him one day.
Now I can. Somehow it's easier to imagine myself transitioning from this world into the next. Picturing my daddy kneeling before Christ makes envisioning heaven so much easier -- and sweeter! I can't wait to finally go home, and every day I am one day closer to that. This world truly holds nothing for me anymore. I love my family: my mom, my husband, my child and they are my reason for picking myself up every day and carrying on, but if God came calling today I don't think I would hesitate to go on with Him!
Anyway ... before this blog gets much sadder or longer ... I just wanted to say thank you to every one and share my daddy with y'all one more time. I'm sure it won't be the last.