Twelve years ago my dad left this world. He was at peace with God and tired of the fight, comforted by the presence of his family until the very end. No matter that we knew the end was near, it still hurts; every day…
My dad was one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. Family was very important to him and I respected him very much. Not wanting to disappoint him, I always tried to do my best (well, most of the time) and treated others the way he and my mom had taught me. He was always there to cheer us kids on in all of our sports and school activities, including band concerts, Christmas programs, and made sure we had what we needed. We didn’t have a lot of luxuries, but we never missed them or felt slighted because we didn’t have the name brand clothes or newest toys.
We knew what it was to work. He expected us to do our part in caring for the animals on our small farm and other chores around the house. He enjoyed gazing at our small herd of angus cattle and got satisfaction from the small things in life. He helped coach my brother’s baseball team and with the dog training club in 4-H. Taking horses to shows and helping with our cattle to get them ready for the 4-H fair were other things he found enjoyment in.
I have no regrets. Even though I lived 3 hours away with a family of my own, I called him every week and spent time with him as often as I could. He overcame the odds many times as the doctors called the family in saying that the end was near. He fought back and despite the odds, he returned home to live another year or so. He said the thought of his grandchildren was what gave him the strength to get well enough to come home. It’s never easy when you know someone is dying. What do you say? My advice is to spend time with them, let them know that you love them. Listen to what they have to say. They need to say what’s on their mind to feel that they have closure and to feel that they can go in peace.
My sister lives in California, and was traveling home to see him. The doctor said he would never survive until her arrival, but he did! Even though he hadn’t spoken for several days, he acknowledged her arrival and breathed his final breath two hours later. We sat there and remembered the good things about him for a long time. We laughed and we cried as we recalled his singing “You Are My Sunshine” and the time he scared us at Halloween by pretending to be the Headless Horseman. I have many memories stored in my heart and no one can take them from me. I miss you, Daddy. Thanks for the encouragement and the love and guidance you provided. Forever, you will live on in me and my brother and sister! I hope we’ve made you proud. I wish you could have been around longer for your grandchildren to have known you better. You would be so proud of all of them, I’m sure! I know that I will see you again, in God’s time, and I look forward to that sweet reunion!