Saturday, April, 30, 2016 11:52 AM
My beloved Father is dying just now in hospice care 12 minutes away from my home. The process will go on awhile although his end is near. He is fairly comfortable and is facing death head on. He insists on no extraordinary measures to prolong life and enough medication to subdue pain. He is meeting death the way he lived his life: authentically and without drama. He is and has always been a manly man.
And I love him. He has not been perfect, but tonight I’d have a hard time naming a significant fault. Such is this process. It is a time for memories and praise. The realization of my blessing has fully matured in my heart until it is uncontained. It spills out of my lips when I tell to him what a good man he has been. What an amazing example he is of how to live, love, work, and thrive. It is truth through and through. I hope he knows it. I want him to know it.
The past weeks have been a cyclone of thoughts that tightly swirled in dark rooms. In considering his life, I naturally consider my life. I marvel at the obvious parallels. I ponder what my path might have been if my Father had chosen a different, less righteous path. I wonder what his welcome in Heaven will look like and think of my own passing as well. There are many things to be considered as you watch your beloved Father slowly pass from life into death.
When I wrote that he is beloved, I didn’t mean by just me. Everyone loves Dad. The funny thing is he never realized it. He worked in the world of tough men for 40+ years. At age 16 & 17, I worked in his factory for consecutive summers. 50-hour weeks in the hot, smoky, sweaty, grimy factory with men who spoke their minds with fierce words. Dad was a supervisor by then and he was universally respected by those hard men. It was a revelation to me. They had actual affection for their boss with the quiet faith.
And so one of my questions in the quiet, dark room is who is going to remember my amazing Father? His parents, wife, brother, sister, and almost every in law have gone before. His contemporaries…. all gone or almost gone. His sons are no longer young. Who will carry his memory past my generation?
And who will carry my memory past the next generation? Few finish their race so well. Someone should remember him.
I had my eyes focused on the spectacle before me. The failing mind and body. The indignity of it all. The necessity too. It seemed unfair. But then the answer came, like it always does. Soft. Reassuring. Comforting. Jesus whispered “I will remember him.”
You see, Dad is a friend of King Jesus. He has been for a very long time. Jesus is the reason that he is finishing strong. Jesus is the reason that he is beloved. My Father’s choice to live faithfully before God at 26 years old has made all the difference to him, his children and to his grandchildren. Dad made that choice never understanding the totality of everything it would mean. 56 years later and a lifetime of walking in faith has allowed Dad to recognize the influence of God in every aspect of his life.
So Richard Dean will not get an earthly parade for his righteous life. He will not be a memory past a generation or two, but Jesus remembers him. Every kind word. Every generous gift. Every sacrifice and every earnest prayer. Every hospital visit and every merciful act will be celebrated very soon. Dad’s welcome in Heaven will be epic, huge, a mega event. I have no doubt. But my Dad won’t realize it is for him at first. Jesus will have to tell him.