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Read Part 1.
When my Dad joined my family, we gained a strong stable man. We gained a father who knew a thing or two about mathematics and science. And we gained a father who could make it possible for us to go to Bethel for almost free.
You may have heard him say that he didn’t have a very big role as a father of my brother, my sister and I and can’t take credit for our development. Have none of it. We learned from him the value of hard work and honesty and respect for authority. He took us to breakfast and he took us boys to the boundary waters along with the scout troop.
During our teenage years, as you might expect, we kids of course had, shall we say, differences of opinion with him. But I think it speaks well of him that not once did any of us tell him “You’re not my real dad.” Even as teenagers, we knew that we needed a dad and that this man was doing an honorable job.
You may have heard his say that he wasn’t a very affectionate (or as he described it ‘mushy’) person. But I can tell you that he was delighted every single time one of my kids asked him for a hug. And they liked these hugs. We will miss this.
You may have heard my Dad describe his singing as poor. He used to say, more accurately, that he sang well, he just had a very small range. If any of you have sat next to him in a congregational time of singing you may have noted this. But he didn’t let this lack of range keep him from worshiping, nor did it stop him from singing along every time when we sang happy birthday to one my kids. I will miss this, too. A lot.
I would be remiss if I didn’t relate to you all another story from this hospital stay. Perhaps many of you have heard it already, but I think it bears repeating. Two weeks ago today, my mom and I were at the hospital with my dad and the infection in his leg was progressing so quickly that the doctor looked at the red spots as they spread on his leg and decided that they needed to get him into surgery very quickly. This was a dark period as Mom and I realized perhaps for the first time that death for him was a significant possibility.
My dad had had a bad morning and was fairly disoriented. Because of lung issues, they had an oxygen mask on his mouth which made speaking more difficult all morning. Just a few minutes before the surgeon came in, they had asked him a few simple questions which he had been unable to answer. But when my mom leaned over him and told him that they were taking him to surgery, that she loved him and told him to get better, he, with difficulty, moved the mask away from his mouth and said to her “You’re a good wife.” These were the last words he ever spoke.
I think he knew this was likely. And I am extremely impressed. He could have said “I don’t want to die” or “My leg really really hurts”, but he didn’t. He chose to help my Mom. Awesome.
A few months ago as Dad was dropping off their dog for us to dog sit while he and Mom were on a trip to a warmer location, I looked at my Dad as he was giving me some advice and I thought, “I really like this man.” I felt this many times as I held his hand in this last hospital stay.
At the beginning of March of this year our family took on the task of memorizing Psalm 34. Perhaps this was God’s way of preparing us for my Dad’s hospitalization. I have learned in the last few weeks how good psalm 34 is for encouraging people in a hard situation. One of the passages that we discussed with our kids is verse 20. “He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken”. This is a true verse. Right now my dad is not in pain, and he isn’t missing a leg.
When Dad came into our life, he was a hurting man who needed a good wife and he found one. In doing so he did a very good thing for a family that needed a husband and a dad. I thank God for my Dad and the way he blessed our family.