( my dad at his childhood farm in Nebraska and playing around on a John Deere.)
(1974 and pop up camping. Good times)
(Christmas time in Washington, NC. My dad always played around with us and gave us "rides" on his back:))
Tomorrow will be one month since my dad went home to be with Jesus, March 12, 2013. It's hard to put into words of what it means in losing my father. But I want to write and remember my dad.... remember how I'm feeling now, remember the times with my dad, his smile, his laughter. I haven't been able to write until this day. Think I needed some time just to remember and look at old photos and shed some tears in remembering times with him... and laugh in remembering the stories with him. His joy was real and true. His friendship was real and true. And he taught me so much. How I loved my dad.... loved him so much. And now knowing he is in heaven with our Maker gives me a comfort beyond all comfort and a peace that I have never felt in my entire life. It's a God peace... the kind of peace that I know my dad is fully restored and in full joy. I know he is with His Savior and Redeeemer. And with those thoughts, I can have a deep thanksgiving.
Heaven is closer now. I don't have this far away feeling about it that I used to have. I have friends and relatives in heaven. But it wasn't until my dad died, that I felt a serious closeness with this sweet place. And it changes me and it changes my perspective more on life. I feel older. Turning 40 created a shifting my life. But now in losing my dad, there is a deeper shifting. Realizing more ( on a serious level) of what matters and what doesn't in life. What to give time to and what to just let go of.
I miss my dad. I miss him on many different levels. And I want to write about him. I want to knit together pieces of his life and the joy he brought. I want to tell parts of his story because it's sweet and good. I want to share him because his life needs to be shared. And I want to honor him..... because he was an amazing father. So here goes:
Ten and half years ago, my dad had a traumatic brain injury. He went into the hospital as a fun loving man who had a sparkle in his eye and a joke ready to tell the nurses. I took for granted his way about him where he could talk to anyone and get them to smile. I loved the way he was with children. He always had such a carefree spirit with little kids and would play games with them and make them laugh. That was my dad. He made people feel at ease. He cared about others.... really cared. So when he went in to the hospital to have surgery, we all thought that it would be a simple thing and he would be home in a few days. But things changed. And I learned in the hardest way that absolutely no surgery is routine or simple.
July 2002 changed his life... changed our entire family. To put into a nutshell, he was without oxygen for too long and it caused a traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma for several days and we prayed and prayed he would come out of it. Finally, he opened his eyes and started moving his feet. "My dad is coming back!" I thought. But it was going to be a different dad and little did we know what journey we would be on in the upcoming months and years. My dad left the hospital a completely different person. Months followed with rehab and more rehab. It helped him to walk a little, to learn how to hold a spoon and move his arms. Most of the day he was in his wheelchair except for his "walking time" which meant several people on both sides of him helping him walk. My mom has been my hero through all this. She has cared for my dad in the most loving and devoted way. She is what real LOVE truly means. She cared for him well. She loved him well. I am so thankful for my mom and words will never adequately express how amazing she truly is. I love her so much.
It took several months for the reality to hit all of us as a family that my dad would never be the same old dad. His brain was like a 2 year old and he could barely speak. He was confused some of the time and would cry sometimes and he started looking like a different person. We started referring to dad as the "old dad" and the "new dad". We had to learn more about what it meant to love the "new dad" and care for him. And it was hard because we had lost our "old fun loving dad".
The pain in losing someone to a brain injury or to alzheimers is intense because one has lost the person they knew. When my mom called and told me that dad died, I was shocked and almost couldn't breath. But then this amazing peace overcame me and I immediately thought to myself, "It's time... God has called my precious dad home."
And in walking through the sadness of watching dad struggle daily for 10 1/2 years, there is a sweet relief that he is now fully restored and probably driving his heaven built John Deere in the sunshine fields of heaven. Cannot even begin to imagine what that must be like! To be in God's presence... to be in HEAVEN..... to sing.. to laugh... my dad is HOME! And since my dad loved to sing, tell jokes and stories and make people smile... I know he is doing that in heaven.
The past month I have thought about this verse so much and want to paint it because it reminds me of dad and his life now.
The title in the Message Bible says, " The Voiceless Break Into Song"
( my dad, the voicelss one.... for 10 1/2 years is now breaking into song!)
"Wilderness and desert will sing joyously.... the badlands will celebrate and flower
like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and color......
Energize the limp hands,
strengthen the rubbery knees,
tell fearful souls, "Courage, Take heart!".....
lame men and women will leap like deer....... the VOICELESS BREAK INTO SONG.......
There will be a highway called the Holy Road...
The people God has ransomed will come back on this road. They'll sing as they make their way home to Zion.
Unfading halos of joy encircling their heads, welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night."
So my dad, with a halo of joy encircling his head, is now HOME... he has been welcomed home with joy and gladness... his sorrows and sighs have scurried aways... He is with HIS CREATOR. He has a voice... he can sing and laugh and ride tractors and run around and make others laugh. And I know that his twinkle is back in his eye. And I look forward to the day to give him a big hug!
Think that memories are some of the most precious gifts God gives to us on earth. So thankful for the sweetness of remembering. It makes life so much richer. I want to share more stories of my childhood and my dad so we will see how the spring unfolds and how the stories unfold as well.
Sending love and hugs to all of you who have lost a dear one in your life.