I wrote earlier this summer about my uncle’s funeral. What made it especially hard for me was that this uncle was my dad’s identical twin. They’d suffered through the same medical issues and had both quit taking their medications (for diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s), although my dad’s twin quit his several months before my dad quit taking his.
I also wrote that it would be a blessing if my dad went as quickly as his brother.
Not long ago, my father took his last breath on this earth. It was quick, with only a couple weeks of being bed-ridden from lack of energy (not eating).
My sister and mother were with him in his last moments, providing reassurance and love.
We all had a chance to say good-bye – some a month before, some a week before, and some the night before.
It was and is still very difficult to face that he is gone.
My father was bigger than life. Standing 6 foot 3 inches tall, he was a calming influence on those around him. His sense of humor was dry – sometimes catching you by surprise.
He was the best father a person could ever ask to have. While providing firm discipline, he did not need to raise his voice. One of the sayings we children remember well is “I can’t make you do it, but I can make you wish you would have done it.” I hardly ever experienced one of his spankings, but knowing a bun-burner was coming was enough to make you repent and try harder the next time. It wasn’t hard to behave in his presence because he was always even-keeled. I would completely believe that it hurt him more to spank us than it hurt us to be spanked.
He loved us, although he didn’t say “I love you” outloud. You would know you were loved by the way he treated you with respect. He would show you how much he cared by just spending his time with you. For many years, he worked out of town. There were a few years when I was in elementary school when he would drive 24 hours round-trip to spend 24 hours with us (sleeping very few of the ones with us).
He was generous and giving. He was always helping the older neighbors (and former neighbors) with their yardwork or with fixing things around their house. It wasn’t unusual for him to “forget” to take whatever pay they offered him. If they found a way to make sure he took it, he would sometimes find a place to put the money so they would find it later – under a book on their table or back in their screen door as he left.
He was caring and gentle. On several occasions, we took unmarried relatives into our house to care for them during their ilnesses – cancer or recovery from a surgery. It was always my father who took on the big and time-consuming parts of the ‘care’ job – whether lifting, bathing (the male relative), or just spending time with them. He never made them feel like they were a burden or that they owed him anything. He did it all with love and respect for them as people.
My dad wasn’t flashy. He wasn’t needy. He gave and gave and you never knew he had any needs other than to be left alone for some peace and quiet.
He could fix and do just about anything – plumbing, sewing, cooking, wood-working, drywall, holes in a fence, a banged-up knee, or a loose tooth (“let me wiggle it just a bit to see how loose it is).
I get my compulsive organizational skills from him. I get my money-management (budgeting) skills from him. I get my patience to fix knots or tangles from him. I did not get his green thumb.
- Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord
- and let perpetual light shine upon him.
- May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
- through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I miss you.