I generally don't get to see my Daddy on Father's Day considering it is a Sunday. I generally try to call him, but this Father's Day my Daddy went into the hospital a few days before and getting him to answer the phone is a near impossibility. See my Daddy is 90 years old, and isn't really doing too well health wise. This time it is some kind of infection in his arm, but he has had a couple of strokes, and broken bones leaving him wheelchair bound. He can stand long enough to transfer himself, but that's about it. If he couldn't do that, he would have to go live in a nursing home, because Mom couldn't take care of him.
In any event, I got to go see him today. As I stared at him while he tried to talk to me through lips that no longer form the words his mind intends, and his faded eyes set deeply in a sagging face, I realized the absolute love for the man that filled my heart. I also realized that if it was his time to go tomorrow, I would be happy for him. You see, sometimes when he says he wants to go "home," I don't always think he is talking about the apartment he lives in with my Mother.
He is a good and decent man who worked hard all his life. He quit public school in the sixth grade to help support his family in the Great Depression. He was the oldest of 12 children, and he helped to provide for them until he was an adult and moved out on his own. He married my Mother when he was 31 and they had my sister and brother in fairly short order, but I didn't come along until he was 47!
He worked hard all my life, mostly working two jobs to provide for us. He retired the same summer I turned 18. I am sure he was thinking - Yeah! I'm done! Woooohoooo retirement! But when you have worked hard your entire life, retirement isn't easy. My parents decided to buy a house in Texas and move down there and did so shortly after his retirement. He enjoyed piddlin' around in Texas, but Mom was burning up the road to see the grandkids! She surely couldn't have done it with gas prices today, but anyway, they soon moved back to Oklahoma.
He took up watching the grandkids, particularly my children, and when my son was three, my Daddy fell while mopping the kitchen floor. He broke his hip and he believes that was the beginning of a downhill slide for him. "I never was sick before that," he'd say, and it is pretty much true.
As he lay there, little and frail, in the hospital bed today, he told me how he felt he was of no use anymore. I told him it was nonsense, considering that he can still talk about Jesus and tell others. I told him I thought he was pretty wonderful.
You see this is new for me. Daddy was never frail or old, even when he was 65! And as I sat there examining all of his fading and wrinkly features, I noticed he still has quite a bit of black mixed in with the gray of his hair. And his whiskers are pretty dark too.
And yet it isn't new for me, as Daddy has had his health deteriorating for some time now. Maybe not the 18 years it has been since he broke his hip, but for a while nevertheless. Yet when I think about him, I see that man in my youth. The one who, if an ant dared bite me or a wasp dared to sting me, he would set fire to them and their whole family! He was the one who at the age of about 53 cleared a chain link fence in one bound when I fell and cut my head open. Daddy was the one who woke up with me in the middle of the night when I had nightmares to make everything all better. Daddy is who I saw pray and live out the Scriptures.
And it is Daddy who I want to be at my ordination next year (good Lord willing) but I also know, he may not be there. My husband told me that Daddy would be there in spirit if he wasn't alive, and that he would probably enjoy it more. While I know these things, I don't think so. My Daddy will be having too much fun in heaven to worry about silly little things here on Earth. But maybe...