The following was my “Preacher’s Pen” column in our church newsletter December 8, 1993. It is included in chapter 12 (Preacher’s Pen Columns) of my book A Pastor and the People: An inside Look through Letters. I share it in this week’s blog post as I come to the 22nd anniversary of my dad’s death.
My dad died last night. It wasn’t unexpected, we knew it was coming; but the phone call and the news still had a significant impact upon me. As much as you can think ahead and prepare for the inevitable, you can’t face it until it comes.
Dad had been ill for over a year with leukemia. When he took a turn for the worse in October Jan and I went to visit him. Although he was weak, we had a good visit. I asked him about his readiness to go and his confidence in the Lord and he assured me he knew where he was going. When I left I told him that although I probably wouldn’t see him again in this life, we would see one another in the next life. He again assured me he knew that was true.
Over the last five weeks I have called home regularly, but because of his condition only spoke with him three or four times. We last talked Sunday afternoon. Since our family was planning to visit over the holidays, I asked him if he was going to make it until then. He said yes, and although we both knew it might not happen, we affirmed we were looking forward to seeing one another then. There won’t be a visit later this month like we planned, but the plans we made in October are still in place.
The truth is that my dad and I weren’t really that close. Because of his drinking we weren’t close during my formative years and when he gave that up and committed himself to the Lord I was already a teenager. For the past 20 years we have lived so far apart that visits were only once or twice a year.
My dad was a trophy of God’s grace. A trophy is not valuable for what it is, but because of what it represents. My dad was an example of what God can do in and for a person. His life, his marriage, and his family were all transformed by God’s grace.
Even though we weren’t that close, there are two extremely important things I know about my dad: he loved me and he was proud of me. One of the most gratifying events in my life was when he had the prayer for me when I was ordained as a minister. I’m pretty sure my dad knew I loved him, but I doubt he knew I was proud of him. I was, and I am.
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Photo: My dad with our daughter and son/his grandchildren a few years before he became ill.