I’ve been thinking this morning about Father’s Day. I lost my Father a few years ago to emphysema. He was a strip miner all his life working on draglines and bulldozers–a real John Wayne type of man. He had an alcoholic father who left his mother when he was young so he never really had a sound father/son relationship. He became one of those who did not express affection much. Me, my two sisters, and two brothers hardly ever got a hug or kiss from him and I think I was almost 40 years old before he ever spoke, “I love you” to me. However, we grew up assured by our mother that he loved us and he never complained about having to work seven days a week. I got to spend the last several months of his life taking care of him when he was in at-home hospice. He was 76 years old and my Mom was 75 at the time and because of her health problems I knew she could possibly get down herself trying to take care of him at home and I did not want him in a nursing home. I took family leave from my job and went home to southwestern Pennsylvania. In those short months we became closer than we had ever been. We laughed and we cried. I was humbled and he was humbled by the fact he was bedridden and I had to change him like a child several times a day. I determined that I was going to make his short time left here on earth as comfortable as possible. I can still remember his eyes lighting up and hearing him say, “Is that apple pie I smell?” “Yes”, I would say–it was his favorite especially with ice cream. There were very hard days when I would have to turn his oxygen up because he would have a severe panic attack because he was afraid he couldn’t breathe. Sometimes I would have to give him morphine to get him through the attack and I would wonder, “Is this the day?” I had to leave before he passed away because my six months was up for my leave but before I left he told me, “I will never be able to thank you enough for what you did for me.” You see, my Father was born on the land that he desired to die on and I, in my small way, was able to maybe give him that wish and extend that time for him. He was able to lie in the den where we put his bed and look out each morning at the land he had taken care of for many years while also working hard at a job that rewarded him with very little–in fact it took his life.
When I became a Christian the Father’s love was always hard for me to truly understand and accept because I felt I had not experienced that from my earthly Father. This experience taught me and showed me so much. I had desired my Father’s time and attention all my life–I had no idea it would come at the end of his life but it was a healing experience for both of us. God allowed some miraculous things to happen during that time and one of them was enabling me to truly understand “and” accept the Father’s love and I believe my Father experienced that too because he had a peace about him that he had never had in his life during those months. People speak of spiritual markers quite a bit and I believe this was one of those for me. It is my wish that this weekend all earthly father’s will experience the Father’s love as well as their children.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matthew 7:11
“Thank you Father for your unconditional love for us.” Amen