I’m spending some time alone this morning remembering my dad. To me, he was always my daddy, no matter how old I became. And today marks the one-year anniversary of my father’s death.
My father was the most amazing man. He was not boisterous or loud and I truly do not ever remember a time when he raised his voice to me.
He didn’t have to do so because there was something about our relationship that made me never, ever want to disappoint him.
He never pushed me into being the best I could be, I think he just expected it and I sure didn’t want to let him down.
Many people have told me how kind my father was, what a respectable and upstanding man. He was. But he was so much more. I believe without a shadow of a doubt, he loved my mother completely. He was a devoted father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He would do anything for us, he had a true servant heart in his quiet, unassuming way. And he loved us unquestionably, no matter what.
Even though he was 90 years old and diagnosed with cancer, his death came suddenly and was a shock to me. One minute he was with me, the next he was gone. Losing my mother 10 years before was very difficult, but losing my dad shook me to the core. I imagine it was because he was my last living parent and my children’s last living grandparent. And I know it’s because his passing has left a huge void in my life.
I’ve been blessed to spend the last several years back here in my hometown where my dad lived. After living away from home for so many years, it was such a joy to be able to stop by dad’s house - our family homestead – talk with him, play games with him, enjoy his company and stories. And now that part of my life is missing.
No one truly understands another’s grief because I think we all grieve in so many different ways. I tend to grieve in private sharing my thoughts only with my husband, who is my very best friend, or alone in the solitude of my home. In that way, I am a very private person, so this is a little foreign to me, putting my thoughts out there in cyberland for all to read. But today God revealed something to me and I need to share it.
The day after my father passed away, my 21-yr-old son asked if he could speak at his grandpa’s memorial service. I was surprised that he wanted to attempt such an emotionally difficult task, but our family agreed to let him speak.
My son chose a particular song to be played right before he spoke at the service. It was “Come For Me” by Charlie Hall.
That song so reminded me of my dad and still does. It comforted me then and it comforts me today. I thought I’d share what my son wrote and delivered as a eulogy at my father’s memorial service one year ago:
“I would like to start by saying something that many, if not everyone here, already knows. My grandpa was a great man who lived a great life. He was also a great father, a great grandfather, and a great friend. There are so many things about him that made him a great man. Just to name a few, he was strong, he was disciplined, and he never complained.
But the greatest thing about my Grandpa was the love that radiated from him. Everywhere he went, he showed people love. I’ve heard from so many people about how he was such a sweet and caring man, and I’m sure they thought that because of the love he showed them. Also, he would always send cards to many, many people for their birthdays and holidays. And my mom told me that ever since she was a little girl, there was never a time when he wasn’t there for her, caring for and loving her, and I’m sure my aunts can say the same of him.
In my eyes, his love makes him such a great man because in that way, he truly reflects Christ. I believe the best way to live out a Christian life and walk with God is to love others, and that is just what my Grandpa did.
The song you just heard before I started speaking is a song I listen to whenever I need some encouragement and hope. It comforts me to know that someday I will be free from pain and suffering and in the loving arms of the Lord. I want to try to comfort you all by telling you that I am absolutely certain that my Grandpa is there right now.
When I heard the news of his death, I was sad because I knew I would miss him, but I was also happy for him because I see it this way. It’s just like when you plan a big trip or vacation. You are very excited for the trip to come, but you have to anxiously wait for it to come and patiently pass the days. My Grandpa enjoyed traveling and going on big trips and had many souvenirs to prove it. He enjoyed sitting down to plan trips and pulled out atlases to map out where he was going.
Well, my Grandpa was planning a big trip with God. He knew where he was going after death and I could tell that he wasn’t afraid of it. He was ready for it, but he patiently waited for it to come in the Lord’s time. And now it has finally come and Grandpa is on his big trip to heaven where he’ll spend his eternal vacation praising and rejoicing with the Lord. I’d like to end by saying I am very proud to have had him as my grandfather and I aspire to be as great a man as he was and to love the way he did.”
I loved what my son had to say that day. It came from his heart and it spoke straight to my heart showing me the impact my father’s love had on all of us. So today as I remember my beloved, wonderful father and miss him so much my heart hurts, I need to figure out a way to deal with this grief.
That way is giving it all to Jesus, my Savior, my Rock. It is apparent to me that we, even Christians, tend to remember a deceased loved one on the day he/she died. Why is that?
Why are we so drawn to the day of death rather than all those days of living on this earth? Why don’t we rejoice on that day because our loved one who is a believer in Christ became alive eternally in His presence? Why do we remember that day in somber thoughts and with grief?
I think it must be because we are so self-centered. We only think of our grief, our sadness, our missing that person, our emptiness, the way that death has impacted our life…
But Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
For those of us who are Christians, this world isn’t really our home. This life is not the life we have to the “full.” That blessed eternal life is ahead of us.
So I’m changing my thought process. Instead of marking this day as one year I’ve been without my Dad, I’m going to think of it as one year closer to the time I will be reunited with him, my Mom, all my other loved ones, and more importantly, the time I will meet my Savior face to face.
Dear reader, as you ponder this, if you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior, if you don’t have a personal relationship with Him, ask Him today — “come for me.” Ask Him to be the center of your life, so you may have life eternal with Him.