This month I want to share something very personal, but I hope you will see things in my story that touch your heart. While on a two month home visit, we flew to Oklahoma City to spend a week with my dad, step-mom, and extended family. On the weekend we had a family reunion. We gathered at two log cabins near a beautiful lake. It was a four hour drive for the closest ones, and flights from as far away as Arizona and Virginia for others. Family gatherings are sometimes bittersweet, like a chocolate bar. For all the sweetness, there’s always a few nuts; in all the sweetness just a tinge of the bitter as well.
Actually no reunion was planned for this year. But after my Dad had a small heart attack (if any heart attack can be called small) in August, plans were quickly made for this reunion.
Although Dad was dealing with dizzy spells, he thoroughly enjoyed seeing his children, grand-children and great-grand-children together. The almost constant smile on his face was worth all the work, travel, and expense involved.
Two days after the reunion, while I was sitting at the table talking to Dad and my step-mom, Judy, my Dad suddenly slumped forward. His color went gray, and he was not breathing. I helped him straighten up and shouted, “Breathe, Dad, breathe!” My husband called 911 and my step-mom prayed. He became alert enough to ask for his nitroglycerin. The EMTs arrived , stabilized him and transported him, siren blaring and lights flashing, to the hospital.
By the time we arrived at the ER, Dad was sitting up on the gurney with oxygen, IV, and numerous sensors taped to his body. But the most notable thing was his smile. My dear Dad was smiling! After multiple tests they decided to keep him overnight for observation. He was discharged the next evening.
The doctor had told us his heart was quite compromised and there really was not anything to do but learn to live with it. He gave him medicine for a bladder infection, promised physical therapy at home to help him regain strength, and made an appointment for follow-up with his cardiologist.
That night, as I said goodnight to Dad, we hugged and kissed. I told him I had been really frightened when he was not breathing and thought he might be on his way to heaven. I said I was not shouting to him to breathe because I had anything I needed to say to him or needed to hear from him. I just didn’t want to lose him. Wonderfully, I could look him in the eyes and see only love. I told him I felt no shame or remorse for anything that ever happened between us. Only love.
He answered that he loves me and knows I love him. He doesn’t have any unfinished business with me either. We just enjoyed a lingering hug and thankful hearts for God’s grace and mercy.
My Dad has such a big, generous heart. He was weakened by the earlier heart attack, is getting hard of hearing, has returning cataracts, and painful feet, but he never complains. He unselfishly helps my step-mom who deals with the effects of Parkinson’s. He only finds good and kind things to say. He never fails to give God the credit for everything. He trusts God and gently points everyone around him to his best Friend. What a treasure God has put in that clay jar.
The next day we had to fly back to Virginia. Almost the whole trip home, silent tears rolled down my cheeks. I thought that would be the last time I would see my dad alive in this life.
None of us know when will be the last time we see our loved ones. We pray for our unsaved loved ones, and truly pray that each time we see them won’t be our last. But for those who love Jesus, like my Dad, we do not have to grieve as those who have no hope. We will cry when our loved ones go home, but we don’t have to have hearts heavy with things unsaid.
I wonder if there is anyone in your family – a dad or mom, a son or daughter, anyone- who you might want to contact right now, wherever you are. Perhaps it has been too long. Perhaps there is something that needs a loving resolution. As a man said in one of my husband’s seminars, tell them you love them and appreciate them while you have them with you. The day will come when you wish you had, and they will be gone.
You know what? My dad has made a miraculous turn around. His heart is fine in every way. His dizziness is gone, and we are all rejoicing. But if he had taken his final journey, I know that all is well with us. My dear readers, I pray you can say the same.