Thursday, July 29, 2010

Faith


Faith

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

The other day, I passed by a little stack of photos that appeared on my dining room table. Really…I have no idea where they came from. I took a look and almost gasped as I saw the picture of my dad just one year before his death. It was shocking to see how wonderful he looked. He was smiling, his eyes bright, his face tanned. He looked healthy. I was taken back by how well he had looked so close to his passing. I had forgotten.

At the same time, I had another realization. A few days had gone by and I hadn’t given dad much thought. This saddened me a little. I don’t want his life to fade from my memory. I want to sense his presence even if it’s in the familiar heaviness of grief. It was a sign…time was marching on.

Now my first Father’s Day without dad has passed. We celebrated my husband, of course. But I couldn’t help recall how my sisters and I had each brought a dish to dad’s last year. We gathered around the dining room table to enjoy a lovely meal, warm conversation, a few laughs. (Always with dad!!) His fairly new caregiver joined us for the laughs, the chats, the prayers. We really liked Bea. We didn’t know she would be there for the remainder of his days. We didn’t know how few days remained. Oh how thankful I am for making sure we celebrated dad that day…one of our last meals , one of our last celebrations together.

This past week marked the one-year anniversary of dad’s death. He died just about a month after Father’s Day. It had been a difficult year for dad. He lost his beloved wife of 30 years, Jane. And though he tried to move on, keep a stiff upper lip, carry on (“Carry on, men.” Dad used to say to his four daughters and one son if we were dawdling ), there was a sadness that nothing could take away. He missed his friend, his bride, as he so often referred to Jane. And sickness, what we eventually learned was peripheral vascular disease, came on with a vengeance. For seven months, dad would spend time in and out of the hospital, rehab, and home, where he most wanted to be, with full time care, which he most definitely did not want, but needed. He was in excruciating pain most of the time.

We all thought dad would get better. He was determined. More determined than I would have thought in light of Jane’s absence and Dad’s strong faith that held the promise of heaven. At times, he did get better. But there were setbacks and far too often when there were a range of health possibilities, dad would find out he had the worst case scenario. It was hard to keep going, hard to hope for the best, when Dad kept hearing bad news. In the face of all this, Dad was pretty positive. Though from time to time, he would grow weary. One of the last of many conversations went like this, “ You know, Lee, I just don’t know if this is worth it. This is a heck of a way to live.” I responded, actually sounding a little like dad myself, “Well, Dad, here’s the good news…and the bad news, you don’t get to choose.” “I suppose you’re right,” laughed Dad.

So here I am today. I’m thinking of Dad. I’m relieved that the grief is a little lighter. For a while there, it felt like there was an ominous black presence around me. I felt a little like I was wearing grief like a heavy cloak. Tears, memories, musings would come easily. Sometimes I would just lie on the floor wailing in the great emptiness, the great loss of dad. I miss being able to call him, to visit, to have dinner together.  
I miss his wisdom, his humor, his knowledge, his insight. Oh how I miss his love. I miss picking up his 12-pack of coke, his Werther’s Original caramels, his everything bagel from his favorite bagel shop (I know…not exactly health food). I miss sharing a news item that I could count on him knowing about, I miss our prayer sessions together. I miss his funny voices and his silly faces.

And yet, I know, I believe that I will see him again. Somehow, some way, some day, in some mysterious form, we will share in eternity.
“I believe. Help me in my unbelief.”
I realize I’m a little mad at God for allowing death. It really is one of the most painful things in life. Deep down in my soul, I do believe there is eternity, where there is no more sorrow, no more pain. But I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. How about you?

6 comments:

  1. Your dad died with a fork in his hand for sure...let us all keep the faith...and the fork. Until we meet again for the ultimate feast. Love, B xxxooo

    Woman and a Fork
    >
    > There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and
    > had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things "in
    > order," she contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss
    > certain aspects of her final wishes.
    >
    > She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures
    > she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.
    >
    > Everything was in order and the Pastor was preparing to leave when the
    > young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.
    >
    > "There's one more thing," she said excitedly.
    >
    > "What's that?" came the Pastor's reply.
    >
    > "This is very important," the young woman continued. "I want to be buried
    > with a fork in my right hand."
    >
    > The Pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to
    > say.
    >
    > That surprises you, doesn't it?" the young woman asked.
    >
    > "Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," said the Pastor.
    >
    > The young woman explained. "My grandmother once told me this story, and
    > from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I
    > love and those who are in need of encouragement. In all my years of
    > attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of
    > the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and
    > say, 'Keep your fork.' It was my favorite part because I knew that
    > something better was coming.....like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish
    > apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!'
    >
    > So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my
    > hand and I want them to wonder "What's with the fork?" Then I want you to
    > tell them: "Keep your fork, the best is yet to come."
    >
    > The Pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman
    > good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her
    > before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp
    > of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like
    > than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and
    > knowledge.. She KNEW that something better was coming.
    >
    > At the funeral people were walking by the young woman's casket and they
    > saw the cloak she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over
    > and over, the Pastor heard the question, "What's with the fork?" And over
    > and over he smiled.
    >
    >

    ReplyDelete
  2. Part 2. Keep your fork...

    During his message, the Pastor told the people of the conversation he had
    > with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the
    > fork and about what it symbolized to her. He told the people how he could
    > not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would
    > not be able to stop thinking about it either.
    >
    > He was right.. So the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind
    > you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come. Friends are a very rare
    > jewel , indeed, They make you smile and encourage you to succeed . They
    > lend an ear, they share a word of praise , and they always want to open
    > their hearts to us.
    >
    > Show your friends how much you care. Remember to always be there for them,
    > even when you need them more. For you never know when it may be their time
    > to "Keep your fork."
    >
    > Cherish the time you have , and the memories you share .
    > Being friends with someone is not an opportunity but a sweet
    > responsibility.
    >
    > Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND even if it means sending back
    > to the person who sent it to you.
    >
    > And keep your fork. (no matter how many times I get this, I have to pass
    > it on, cause I just love it !! )

    ReplyDelete
  3. Elise, your writing about your Dad is some of your best. I feel your sadness as well as your worry that not thinking about him means that your memory of him is fading. Not so. It's that initial intense grief that is fading, which is normal and even good for you. Grief must resolve or we would be unable to function well in the present. The emotional memories remain.
    When I think about what will happen when God calls me home, I always remember the scene in the movie The Hiding Place, based on Corrie Ten Boom's autobiography of the same name. As a youngster, she asks her father how she will deal with death. He says to her, "When we go on a train trip, when do I give you your ticket?" And she answers, "When we get on board." And he wisely tells her that God will give her the help to face death when she needs it.
    So while I don't know how or when I'll face my final journey, I trust God that He will hand me the "ticket" for that trip at just the right time.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Elise,

    This is lovely. Your father was a one of a kind man, and I thank God for his life and his faith. If I had not met him, I never would have known you or Moms in Touch.

    Love,

    Your Sister in Christ,

    Joy

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are awesome. I guarantee I will end up quoting you on that "You don't get to choose" thing.
    <3

    ReplyDelete
  6. Another wonderful story Elise. Of course I makes me emotional because I am reminded of the relationship I did not have with my Father. But, I am also reminded that God blessed me and my family in different ways through my Dad. I am sitting in the shore house knowing that he built it for us. We come together here and share our lives, and that is a blessing. I've also realized that a beer can take the edge off. Maybe I should have been drinking all along! ;-)

    ReplyDelete

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