Yesterday, as I was checking email, I got a notice about some picture "memories" from 11 years ago. When I opened the email, these were the pictures that popped up and I wasn't prepared to see them. In fact, I had forgotten that I took these, 11 years ago, this month.
This was my dad's house and these were the pictures I took on the last day I saw him. He died 10 days later.
It was around the time of the Super Bowl, and we had spent a very special 4 days with him.
My dad had been very sick for months and we had been driving to Corpus to visit him in the hospital, just about every other week. So true to God's timing, David had been assigned to oversee some things in the Corpus office during that time and it gave us the perfect opportunity to travel to Corpus bi-weekly and even weekly, at times, so he could work in the Corpus office.
It was a 5 1/2 hour trip, and I was still homeschooling my youngest son, Collin. My oldest son, Ted, was 18 at the time, but it was still hard leaving him so often to travel, but we were all doing what we had to do.
David would drop Collin and I off at the hospital and go to the office. Collin and I would hang out in my dad's room, visit with my stepmom, Ruby, and my sisters, when they were able to be there.
Collin got an unusual education that year; full of all the medical terms and procedures. More than I ever wanted him to experience. But he also got to spend time with my dad and family and though I'm not sure what kind of memories he has from those days, it was special.
On this particular visit, my dad had been released, after about 6 months of hospital stays, rehab stays and little chances at home, to be at home on hospice.
We were there for 4 days, watching my stepmom take care of him, day and night. My little sister, who is a physical therapist, would come and work his legs, to help keep his muscle strength up and he would let her boss him around for a bit.
We would sit with him while he watched football and at one point, David and Collin played the guitar for him and sang Johnny Cash songs, while my dad nodded his head and enjoyed some familiar tunes.
It was a special time.
But then it was time to leave and as every other time I've left his house, it was a sad occasion. I had always hated leaving my dad's house.
And for whatever reason - be it his health, the Holy Spirit, my intuition - I knew in my heart that this would be the last time I saw him. So I made sure to say the words that needed to be said, and soak up all that I needed to soak up and when we drove out of the driveway that day, I remember saying to David..."This is the last time I'll see my dad." And it was.
Ten days later, we got the call that my dad was back in the hospital and failing. He wasn't breathing on his own; he was being kept alive by machines. My stepmom asked if I wanted to try and get there before it was "time" and I thought for a second and then said no.
I had a peace about saying goodbye that last day that I drove out of the driveway and I knew that the picture in my mind, of my dad sitting in his chair, watching the Super Bowl, listening to my husband and my son playing music for him and all the other memories I had from those 4 days...those were my memories and I was at peace about that.
And, at 4:20 p.m. on that day, my dad passed on; into the arms of Jesus. He had no more illness; no more pain. And though I've questioned my final decision over the years, I try to remember that we make the best decisions we can at the time and I squelch any thoughts of regret. Because your last picture is your last picture and I wanted mine to be of him, in the home he loved, surrounded by sports and music, not machines and death.
Not too long after my dad died, the Lord gave me a dream and it was a very clear dream of my dad, dressed in his everyday clothes of Dickies work pants, his cowboy boots, western shirt and cowboy hat. He was in the pasture next to his land and he was running and throwing a football and laughing, healthy and whole. That was the greatest gift God could have given me! It was as if the Lord was telling me not to worry; that my dad was healed and doing great. And I believe it.
You never know when memories are going to pop up...whether in the emails we open or the thoughts that come out of nowhere. All we can do is try our best to make good memories every day, though some things are out of our control.
I hope you enjoyed this story of my dad. I know it's sad, but many of the best stories end like that. I'm just thankful I had a story to tell, with the dad I loved so deeply.
Until Next Time...
Beautifully written and it touched my heart. Made me remember my own Dad and my time with him at the end of his life on this earth. You have sad memories, yet precious memories. Isn't that just like God, letting you know your Dad is happy now?!ReplyDelete
Thank you Mary. God is so good :)Delete
What a heartwarming memory for you, Debbie. Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart. And what a blessing from God letting you know your Daddy is happy in Heaven!ReplyDelete
Thank you Billie Jo.Delete
Comforting knowing that your dad is in heaven and you had those last special days with him.ReplyDelete
In answer to your comment about my steps. Can't tell if there is a change because of walking because I have always walked, but I'm sure it has been a help in keeping me healthy. I am 71 years old and don't take any medicine and my 6 mile daily walk leaves me with lots of energy. :)
Thank you Karen. You are in great shape and your walks are very inspiring!Delete
Jennifer, I am the same at funerals. And I've given explicit instructions to my husband that I will not be displayed like that. And yes, I miss my dad all the time. Not in a grief kind of way, but more in the way of wishing I could call him for advice or share something exciting with him.ReplyDelete
I so enjoyed your memories. Thanks for sharing your heart...and especially about how God has been so kind - especially as He so personally reassured and comforted you. That is precious! You made me think about my own dad today...which is wonderful. I miss him - and certainly look forward to that grand reunion one day!!ReplyDelete
Thank you Jennifer :) Memories are priceless.Delete
Oh my heart!... what a special memory though. I can remember the last time I saw my dad too.. sadly, I wasn't aware. my dad was fully healthy & we had no idea 2 days later, he'd be gone... the daughter/father relationship is so special. SO glad you got those last moments with him where you could tell him you loved him in your own way. Thanks for sharing this.ReplyDelete
Thank you Rebecca Jo :) Oh, that must have been so hard.Delete
Such a special memory! Imagine how difficult the time with your dad would have been if your youngest were in school. That year might have looked very different, but I am sure he has special memories and learned more than anyone of us can imagine.ReplyDelete