He was my Dad… Happy Father’s Day
(Of the post I did on Gene Wilder’s passing)
AUGUST 30, 2016 AT 5:25 AM
“An amazing life !! Sorry to see not one word about God…” –bruce
I asked myself, “is it really out of concern or just opportunity?”
The year was 2010. My dad, age 72, was lying in a hospital bed gasping for breath, in what is commonly called “the death rattle”, in the last moments of his life here on earth.
His wife of 50 years, myself and my wife of five years, his daughter, my sister, and my twin brother, both having recently flown in from out of state for what we all feared but had expected for years would eventually happen. Her husband, our father was dying. (We would lose my mom and brother both since then)
With his earthly family surrounding him, on Father’s day no less, he was making the most important transition in life… death was coming, and he was afraid.
Me? Yeah, I guess I was afraid too.
For him and for what it would mean for our family, my mom, my wife and I in the coming months and maybe years that she would have left as she started the inevitable decline to follow her husband, my father, into “… that dark night”. But I was also afraid and confused because you see, my dad wasn’t a Christian.
At that time, I was still a Christian. I was still very much the ‘Disciple of Jesus’ even though by this time in our walk, we had moved to a new home a year earlier and begun fellowship in a church very different from the ones we had known. And yet I had maintained contact with some of ‘my guys’ from a previous church. Guys that I had discipled into closer walk and relationship with Jesus. Some still single from our Singles Fellowship, others now married with wives and families of their own.
“Can I come share Jesus and pray with your dad?”
My friend James was one of those who had married a wonderful Ukrainian woman with two teenage daughters, Instant family, in his forties. He was very devoted and bold for Jesus… Bruce here would have got on well with James.
When he asked me if he could come to the hospital and inject himself and his Faith… my Faith too… into our family’s tragedy and impending loss, I was dumbstruck with the question above. “Is it really out of concern for our family, my dad’s condition, his eternal destiny…” or was it more than that?
I said no.
I don’t think I was rude or short, but I declined politely and told him that my dad had refused the Gospel offer of salvation thru Jesus Christ on many occasions and now at the time of his death, I didn’t think it was respectful for someone not from the family to insert themselves. I’m sure I didn’t include the last part for James, but I know for certain that was my feeling and thought at the time.
My dad had become my second best friend in the world, I guess with the exception of my wife of course, since moving to Arizona after the Army in 1988.
Like father, like son
He was the Best Man at my wedding just 5 years before, shaky and frail, hardly able to stand for the long AOG wedding service, but there he “stood” for me.
In the intervening years of my various ministries and services in churches we attended, he didn’t always agree with their doctrine or teachings, but he always believed in me. He loved me and was proud of the man I’d become. And he loved my wife. He said so all the time.
I told him once after he complimented her…
“Yeah dad, I done good”
“You done good, but she did better”
Yup, My dad loved me and was proud of the man I’d become. I’m as much like him as I could imagine. My dad was loving, compassionate, self educated and an intelligent life long reader of both books of all kinds, but also people. But not Christian.
My ‘No’ became a Yes… to Truth
I started in that hospital, later in that hospice room, trying to reconcile the thoughts of my dad spending eternity in Hell, or at least without Hope in darkness without the Presence of God.
I didn’t know it at the time, and if you had asked me later I wouldn’t have been able to pin it down, but my Journey away from Christ and Christianity started there with a “No”, and with respecting my father’s dignity and individuality.
Seeds and Cornerstones
It would be for a few more years and heartbreaks till we came face to face with where we are now, but with the same phrase we started our marriage prep with “we’re on a Journey”.
And the journey continues…