May 28th – just another day, right? Well, not for me!
It’s been a while since I sang Happy Birthday, but perhaps he can hear me from Heaven…..sure hope so!
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday, Dear Daddy!
Happy Birthday to you!
The pages turn. The years pass by. Time flies, and it seems like forever ago when I last sat and talked with my Dad.
Actually, it WAS forever ago. And, that last REAL conversation wasn’t a very pleasant one. It took place in a hospital room.
He excused my mom, because he wanted to talk with me – alone. He was always caring for my Mama! That never stopped.
I don’t know where she went – possibly to the lounge on that floor, to shed a few tears; knowing my mom, and since she knew the gist of what was being said behind closed doors, I’m guessing there were prayers mixed in with those tears.
Prayers for him. Prayers for her. But, also prayers for me. She knew it would be a hard talk for me.
And, it was.
That talk no one wants to have!
My dad had been hospitalized for a few days. It was becoming more and more common in the last few years, as he fought – bravely – that ugly “C” disease! He fought valiantly. He fought with all that was within him. And, he was game to fight again when he was checked in to the hospital that time, too, but the doctor – with his best ever bedside manner – just delivered the dreaded news.
“There’s nothing more we can do for you, Arden.”
The impact of those words on his wife of nearly 50 years would be felt for as many more years as she walked on earth. And, the impact on me – well, it continues, and my guess is, it will for all my days, too. Sometimes moreso than others. It’s been twenty-two years already. How can that be?
Not long after that pronouncement by the doctor, Daddy asked to talk with me – alone. He had some words of wisdom for me. Some last minute instructions. Some things he wanted me to know, to do, and to NOT do.
“Do you know just how difficult this is for me, Daddy?” I said, with tears rolling down my cheeks. I was all ears, and I would do as I was told, to the best of my abilities, but I wasn’t a willing participant in this conversation. At least, not for the topic at hand. It was a tough one.
And, yes, he knew! He knew it was difficult! But he was a detail-oriented, forever-planning, forward-thinking guy, and there were things he needed me to know, so ‘the talk’ had to happen.
“I want you to be there for your Mama!”
“Let her make her own decisions, but be there for her. She’ll need you.”
And, I was. And, she did!
There were decisions to make, and I did my best to be there, but let her be the one making her own decisions. She got pretty good at it, too, though she’d come from nearly 50 years of a marriage in which she willingly let him be the decision-maker. That’s how he knew it’d be tough for her, and he wanted to know I would step in to help.
Princess Diana’s death occurred while we watched TV in his hospital room – it may have been that same day.
Yes, it’s been that long ago!
Daddy was dismissed from the hospital not long after our conversation, and there weren’t many in depth conversations after that one.
Then, Rich Mullins died, just before his Wichita homecoming concert. He didn’t make it, as he was called to Heaven for a homecoming concert for my Dad – at least, that’s what I always thought! Within a day or so, my Dad entered Heaven’s gate. Well done, good and faithful servant.
I was blessed to be able to stay with him, and be there to help my mom in the days after he was gone. We cared for him, played music for him (yes, Rich Mullins, along with other favorites! He loved Gospel music!)
He was ready, and told our pastor he wasn’t afraid of death because he knew where he was going, but he was not looking forward the dying process. Thankfully, it was not a struggle for him. Just a peaceful passing.
Mama lived most of another two decades without the love of her life – it was a long time before she joined him in Heaven – oh, what a reunion that must have been.
The man that he was…
The memories I have with my Daddy are priceless. I was a Daddy’s girl, to the core. I was his ‘right hand gal’ whenever he was checking on his cattle. I’d ride along and I’d be prompt to tell him when I saw a cow or calf that appeared to be sickly. Perhaps I should’ve been a vet – who knows? He always loved having me along to watch out for the cattle. I loved it, too.
He was a man of few words. Always had been. But, when he spoke, everyone listened because the few words were often wise ones.
He was humble. He was hard-working. He was a man of character, honesty, integrity, and determination. He was bright. I can remember he would add a column of numbers in his head…..16 + 23 is 39, + 19 is 58, + 33 is 91, +….on and on. He didn’t need a calculator.
He was a man of deep faith in God, too. Again, being a man of few words, his testimony wasn’t one that was heard over and over again, but it was one that was lived out daily, to the best of his ability.
He loved his family. Loved not only my Mama and my brother and I, but he also loved his three sisters, his brothers-in-law, and his nieces and nephews. One of them shares his birthday! Another shares his love for cattle!
He also loved my mom’s family. She was the oldest of a large family, the youngest ones being just a bit older than my brother and I. For them – especially the younger ones – he was a big brother and one they looked up. The all had great respect for my Daddy.
But then……when grandkids came along, my Daddy became the world’s best grandpa. He loved his three grands – Carina, Shawna, and Travis. Many great memories were made with one or more of them. He even got to meet his first great grandchild – Trey – just a while before he said goodbye. What a blessing!
Hope your birthday is a great one, Daddy. I wish I could sing to you just one more time!
I love you. I miss you. Forever!