this bittersweet journey

my daddy went to be with Jesus on October 24, 2015. he just went to sleep, snoring like he always did. looking back these 7 months, rereading my journal, has been bittersweet. it brought some hard and some amazing memories back to me. being the caregiver to my father was not easy by a long shot. but it was a JOY. the day he was told that hospice was recommended, he looked at me and said, “these past few months have been wonderful.” we both cried. it was so wonderful getting to know the first man who ever loved me!!

i miss him desperately…every day. i have a tape that he made for me that i cannot finish for fear that there will be no more new words. i cherish EVERY SINGLE ONE!

at his funeral, i had the privilege to speak.

“I would like to thank you all for coming today to memorialize
this amazing man! I’d like to start with a few words from my children and from my sister:
My daughters will always remember the fun times they had with Papa during the summer in his
backyard playing with the water hose, the times that they had dinner with him, and his first Christmas
with us, where he stayed the night on Christmas Eve and opened presents with us.
My sister wants you to know that “ No matter what happened in life, she never doubted that Dad loved her.
she will always be grateful for that.”

We all grow up seeing our parents through rose colored glasses. Seeing them as perfect, as
heroes, as who we want to be. We, through no fault of our own, all put our parents on a
pedestal. The pedestals our parents sit atop of are never strong enough to hold them for long!
I placed my dad on one such pedestal when I was a little girl, and then life happened and he
fell off of that pedestal the same way I will someday fall off of mine. But the amazing thing about the
rose colored glasses we see our parents through and the pedestals that we place them upon,
is that it’s all made up. There is no pedestal and there are no rose colored glasses.
Our parents are just people who do their best to raise littler people who don’t come with
instruction manuals. We are all on our best day, winging it. Trying our best to love the best we can
and praying to God that He fills in the cracks.

There are many things that I could say about the amazing man that raised me…so many
things. Things like how much he loved donuts, setting off fireworks, joking around and doing silly
things, and how he loved to embarrass his children with his love of passing gas. But most
importantly, how much he loved us. I don’t know if loving us more was even possible.
3 years ago my daddy moved from the warmth of Texas to the not so warm Illinois.(I don’t think he
ever did warm up after I moved him up here.) The reason that he moved here was not just for me,
but for the two little girls that sit with my husband this morning.

Over these past few years
I have watched him fall in love with my girls, and I have watched them fall just as madly in love with
him. And without trying, I fell deeply in love with him too.
This past year was the hardest year of my life and my father’s, but I think it was also the most
rewarding. God changed us, shaped us, stretched us, and never EVER left us. I say “us”
because God allowed me to hold my daddy’s hand as he walked this path in a cancer ridden body.
God showed me the amazing man that my dad was. God allowed me to see him as he was
and to fall head over heels in love him.
He was a strong man, a brave man, a hard working man, a man who loved deeply. He was
a man who believed in his children and grandchildren. He was a man who loved his brother and
looked up to him as a friend. He was a man of simple faith who loved the Lord Jesus Christ with
all that he had! He cherished his faith and grew to love this parish and to cherish her priest.
I have been honored to be his caregiver, his eldest daughter, his partner in crime, but most
importantly his friend. His last words to me on this earth where “I will love you forever.” and
that was the best goodbye that there ever has been or could ever be.

I don’t know how to do this life without him. I don’t know how to raise my children, love my
husband, or even face a day on the planet where my hero doesn’t walk. Oh, but I look forward
“to the city whose builder and maker is God!” Where my daddy is singing in a rich baritone voice
praises to THE FATHER! and Before I know it I will be joining him!

beloved,

thank you for taking this journey with me. i pray that my words…my tear stained words helped you, even a little bit. life is hard. pain is real…oh but THIS IS ONLY PRE-LIFE! there is LIFE after death. no, not some weird mumbo-jumbo that Hollywood makes so much money off of, BUT LIFE!!

you have a choice where you spend it!

Heaven or hell…THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE!

i know that my father is in Heaven today. not because  he was a good guy, did good things, or even because he went to church! BUT BECAUSE HE GAVE HIS HEART TO JESUS CHRIST!

John 3:16- 17 says:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

and 1 john 1:9

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

now, you’ve probably heard it before: how “giving your heart to Jesus makes everything better,” and i’m not here to confirm that statement.

“BETTER” is a relative term, isn’t it!?

for me, this past year wasn’t “better” because i know Jesus. it was Hell on earth, to be perfectly honest.

BUT on my worst days, on the days when i yelled at my kids and wanted to strangle nurses. days when i wanted to MAKE GOD TAKE MY DAD HOME and then desperately wanted to just sleep…on those days i was a mess!

and the ONLY WAY i made it through them was because of Jesus and His sweet words in my ear.

His “you’re doing fine, baby.” and “it’s OK TO HATE THIS! I DO TOO!”

the ONLY WAY that i’m OK today is because my Daddy is ALIVE IN CHRIST! He isn’t dead…he is finally Alive because HE CHOSE JESUS’ FREE GIFT OF SALVATION!

so NO, choosing Jesus won’t make it “better”…it will make YOU BETTER!

He makes you Better!

He is the ONLY LIFE GIVER!

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”

i’d love to tell you more about JESUS and all that He’s done in and for my life.

loving you,

s

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2 thoughts on “this bittersweet journey

  1. Oh…….what a tribute to your dear Dad. It’s so true what you wrote about putting them on. A pedestal isn’t it? I still have my Dad and I don’t cherish him enough and I know it. We have had our differences but in many ways we are so much alike. He opened my eyes to nature and the beauty around me and I know he loves me. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for me, I know. I am so glad I read this! Someday we will all have a great reunion won’t we? Lori

    • Yes. I think it’ll be just like a blink of an eye has passed for him. Maybe he will turn around and say, “there you are, sweetie. I’ve got so many things to show you!” :).

      Treasure every moment. Take more pictures than you think necessary. Memorize him.

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