What I Would Have Said (If I Could Have!)
My last post was about how I was waiting for a phone call that would tell me that my Daddy had breathed his last. The call came in the middle of the night that same day. My Daddy has gone home to be with the Lord.
His funeral was a beautiful celebration of a life well-lived. At one point, we were given the opportunity to share any memories or thoughts that we had. I wanted to share- I have written many posts about my Daddy over these 2 1/2 years of blogging- but I couldn’t. The words came slowly and the tears came quickly.
It has been a week and a half since I received the middle of the night phone call. It is time to share what I would have said- if I could have!
My first memory of you is from when I was 3. You had been away for a few days at a conference and we were all giddy with excitement for your return. Mom sent us upstairs to play Barbies (probably to distract us!), but I remember that we kept looking out the window. And then! We saw your car and we all took off down the stairs wanting to be the first one into your arms.
I remember feeling so happy as you scooped me up and hugged me close!
My childhood memories are just variations on a theme.
When I was hurt, you were the one to scoop me up and make me feel safe. I will never forget how you carried me home after I fell off my bike, the taste of dirt and tears and blood still in my mouth.
When I had a story to tell, you were the one that I wanted to tell it to. I knew that you would understand me better than anyone else.
Do you remember our family bike rides? How you would put a towel over the bar on your bike and set me on it? It hurt so bad, but I loved it, because I was with you!
Looking back on it now, I know that you worked hard to be able to send all 3 of us girls to a Christian school. And I know that one of the main reasons you did that was because I had such a rough 1st grade year. Did I ever thank you for that? I sure hope so! Those years at BCS were some of the best years of my life. I loved memorizing scripture and having you help me with my homework.
You bought me my first fishing rod, taught me how to hit a volleyball, instilled in me a love of football.
You encouraged me to play violin, took me to lessons, stood on the sidelines for every marching band performance.
We laughed every time I picked “Whiter than Snow” as my favorite hymn. And I can’t sing “We Three Kings” without thinking of you and Joe and Chester!
Most importantly, you loved Jesus with all your heart. And so, it makes sense that I wanted to love him too. You were my hero and I adored you.
And really, Daddy? I can’t thank you enough for that. It is one thing to tell people about God. And you did that faithfully. It is great to serve the Lord. And you did that unswervingly. But to passionately love Jesus is not something that you can fake. Not with 3 little girls watching your every move! You made it your life long goal to know Jesus and to love him more. Sweet Daddy- this is the legacy that you have left!
Without a doubt, I was my Daddy’s girl! By the time I was in high school, I couldn’t imagine my life without you. You do realize that it is a rare thing for a teenage girl to want to spend her weekends with her Daddy, right?!! But I did. I loved watching football games with you.
But then something happened that would change my life. I almost lost you when you had open heart surgery. I was only 15 and it was a shock to learn how close you had come to losing your life. It was through that time that I learned one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. You taught me to cling tightly to Jesus, but hold onto his children loosely. I almost lost you and I knew that if I had, my life would have completely fallen apart. And I realized this was not how I should live- this was not how you would want me to live!
My life since then has been one of learning to cling tightly to Jesus. I was able to go to Australia (the ends of the earth!), because I knew that I was following God’s plan. I might not have been able to go to Chicago for college if I had not learned the valuable lesson of seeking God’s will for my life. And I’m pretty sure my husband would not have married me, if I hadn’t learned to cling to Jesus and not to him.
Watching you go through Alzheimers has been one of the most difficult things I have been asked to do. I can’t even tell you how many times I have wanted to hear your thoughts on different things (issues with my kids, struggles in ministry, dealing with people who don’t understand me, Biblical interpretation). I have been missing you for years.
In many ways, the slow losing of you has prepared me for this final goodbye. And I can’t help being thankful for that. But Daddy, the pain is still so great! You have always been the one that I have watched for. The one that I couldn’t wait to see. The one who could instill giddy excitement in my heart.
Oh, how I miss you! But there are tears of joy when I think about what your reunion with Jesus must have been like!! You have been longing to see him ever since you gave your life to Jesus and asked him to change it for you. You have been waiting to go home. He gave you years of ministry, your dear wife, your three girls and 11 grandchildren (probably to distract you!). But you couldn’t help looking for Him.
And so, I rejoice through the tears! I rejoice that your faith has been made sight. I rejoice that you are no longer suffering. I rejoice that your memory is fully restored. I rejoice that your heart’s cry has been answered- Give me Jesus!
I love you, Daddy! Well done, good and faithful servant!