Mar 27, 2009

"When it comes time to die, make sure that all you have to do is die." -- Jim Elliott Mar. 25, '57

Today I post a small tribute to my dad on the 1st anniversary of his passing. On Palm Sunday of last year, he wasn't feeling well and hadn't been out of bed for a couple days. My husband and I went to visit him in the early evening, and I tried my best to persuade him to let us take him to the hospital. He laughed out loud: "that's the LAST place I want to go!" I knew it was a lost cause, and we eventually said goodnight. As I turned to leave, he spoke those coveted words, "I love you Jacque" as he gave me a wave of the hand. Honestly I don't know that I ever heard him say that before! I've always known my father loved me, but the words just about stopped me in my tracks. "I love you too, Dad!"

A few days later mom called to say dad really did need to go to the hospital and this time he didn't put up much of a fuss. We got him in the front seat of my car and all he could say was "I can't believe this is happening. Do you think we're doing the right thing?" The days following are mostly a blur and its hard to place the sequence of memories. Finally when it was determined that he would be released to in-home hospice care, he was so excited. He wrote the night nurse a note "no breakfast tomorrow, I'm going home!" He then asked if he was supposed to be preparing to die, and stated emphatically that he was not afraid to go home to die.

My father died the way he lived--peacefully and at peace with himself, with God, and with his family. There was nothing left he had to do but pass from this life to the next. God graciously granted him the dignity of a smooth transition as his family shared the final sacred moments.

Back in the '70's I bought dad a little plaque with this poem on it, attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and it was read at his funeral:

"That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much;
who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children;
who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
who leaves the world better than he found it,
whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul;
who never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty or failed to express it;
who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had."

There will never be another dad like my dad. We all miss him terribly, but we know it is a temporary separation. The pain of loss we feel today will pale in comparison to the joy we will share in our eternal home.

I can't close this without mentioning that my husband's father also passed away on March 27, three years to the day before my dad. That's another story for another time, but how fortunate that these anniversaries fall during the Easter season. We will always have reason to renew our hope in the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as we remember our earthly fathers.

"...because I live, you will live also." John 14:19


Wanda said...

A very moving post Jacquelyn...similar to my mothers passing...2 years June 4th...very peacefully 5:00am...the morning after my dad's birth date and their if planned...the smallest things sometimes gives us great comfort. Take care.

Jacquelyn said...

Wanda, June 4 is a special day for me too. My dear Grandma's birthday, and my Grandpa passed on that date too. Thanks for the comment, I've been a bit "behind" lately! Have a good day!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this. Today we landed on 1 Thess 4:13-18 ("don't grieve as others do, who have no hope...We will always be with the Lord. Encourage each other with these words.") in the men's study I'm teaching. I commented that it was a year ago this month--though I didn't realize it was a year to the day!--since Grandpa had died. And I commented that it was strange to me how few people connected the Easter message we had just celebrated with the hope of grandpa's resurrection as they comforted us. Rob very specifically did, though.

I miss grandpa. Both grandpas. I'll have to call both grandmas today. Thanks for this.


Jennifer said...

A very fitting tribute and reflective in a joyful way. You did have a one-of-a-kind dad and Ken and I are sooooo glad that we had the privilege of knowing him. He always had a smile for us and wanted to know how we were doing.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute. Lyn