Yesterday my son pulled out his grandfather's sun glasses that I had given to him as a gift a few years back. To see my son in these glasses is a sweet reminder of my dad. April is a hard month for me. It has been almost twenty five years since the death of my dad, but it still seems like yesterday.
The last day I saw my dad was on Easter Sunday of that year. So Easter brings a sweetness of my Savior and a day of tears missing my dad.
I was the girl who didn't believe the news about my dad. I was the girl who refused to see him with cancer. The doctor's told my parents he had no chance of overcoming this disease. My parents never shared that with me, until later on through the end of the year when my mom spoke to me telling me my dad was never coming home from the hospital again. I still didn't believe her. This daddies girl was not about to lose the man who blessed her life with love and joy. But that is exactly what happened.
I watched my dad suffer for a year before this ugly disease took his life. He showed me grace and dignity through this year of suffering. He showed me he overcame all obstacles, and he showed me to never give up.
It's hard today because as my son graduates, as my daughter is pregnant with her first child, and as my youngest daughter will walk the aisle and move into her new home soon, he will not be here to see these things. He is not hear to see my name on an article I wrote, nor to see my husband care for us. He is not here to take care of my mother as she ages and needs him so. I still today cannot understand death, all the whys and whens. There is such pain with loss that we cannot understand.
I heard so many say, "It'll just take time honey, and the pain will go away." The pain has never gone away. It is still there just as strong as the day he left. Other things have just filled those empty spaces and through those spaces other blessings have come.
Life does continue on, but it is never again the same. You find yourself remembering as a smell comes by or a man walks past who catches your eye. My dad loved fishing, he loved the outdoors, and he taught me so very much. He did not like hunting. He always said he enjoyed watching deer and animals in nature instead of killing them. He could never put his finger on the trigger, and during that last year of his life when he went fishing he would just catch and release. He found a new meaning of life and new how much time he wasted on things of this world. In his last year he took up bike riding. He bought this old bike and would ride for miles each day when he felt good. After a while he could no longer ride, but when he did he found great joy. This was the man who held my hand, who taught me how to catch a baseball, how to make a basket, and how to bait my own hook.
The greatest blessing that came through this disease is my daddy was saved the day before his death. A Pastor, a friend of the family, came to visit him. He shared the Lord with my dad and he accepted Christ as his Savior. Then I really didn't understand what that meant or how much of a blessing that would be to me today. I know there will be a day I will see his face again, and I know he will be smiling. My hope is that there are windows in heaven and he can see us. That he will see as his grandson takes that first step on his own, as his great grand child is born, and as his granddaughter walks the aisle and has a dedication to her grandfather who is no longer here is a hope I hold in my heart. I wouldn't want him to miss seeing one minute of the blessings.
Every little girl wants to hear her daddy say how proud he is of her, and as we grow to be women that never changes. I still yearn to hear those words from him. I know in my heart no matter what I do he is smiling with pride, saying, "That's my girl."
Today, I see things with a little more clarity. I know everything happens for a reason. I don't always have to understand those reasons, but I do have faith in the God above who does know. I trust Him, and I can find comfort in His love and word. My daddy just made it to see Jesus before I did, and in that I can find joy knowing he is right where I want to be one day.
Memories now fill all those places where he once walked. Memories that bring smiles, tears and laughter. If there is one thing I can bring to you today, it would be to love your parents. Honor them and love them with all of your heart. Don't waste one moment on thinking you have tomorrow. Live each day as this is our last. Forgive, open your heart, your arms, and give the highest respect to your parents. Serve and give to them as they once did for you. In the moments you have with them, learn from them, hear their stories, and share with them. Don't let time pass and allow today to slip away. Make today that day you call or just make that surprise visit to say, "I love you dad."