Tomorrow is the 4th of July. I've been feeling sort of "blah" about the whole holiday this year. I've been blaming it on the fact that our family is not hosting our annual fireworks extravaganza this year for the first time in about 10 years. I think that is partially true.
As I have been contemplating today, I believe that for the last five years planning a huge event at my home for the 4th of July has been a good distraction from thinking about something more important to me. You see, my dad died on the 4th of July in 2005.
We actually hosted our event the day before my dad died that year. On Father's Day weekend my dad had a major stroke (more specifically a brain bleed) although at the time it moved slowly enough that they didn't see it coming on so strong. He had had many mini strokes over the last several years of his life but this one was different. Once he lost consciousness I realized it was time to go up there and be with him. It was a stressful time, for sure, but the time I got to spend alone with my dad was precious. Then when it seemed that he was not going to recover , I went home to my family for a week. We got ready for our event and hosted it on the 3rd that year. I had fun with our guests but in truth I knew that it was just a distraction from the inevitable. The next morning my mom called and told me dad had died.
We then went into high gear getting our family ready to travel up for the funeral and all that goes with it. Suddenly, my boys had no good dress clothes suitable for a funeral and I needed to run to Walmart to get some white shirts and ties that didn't have Mickey Mouse on them.
I remember that while I was there rushing around picking up stuff I saw an older man from the town where my kids go to school. I had the most pressing desire to run up to him and tell him "my dad died this morning" and hope that he would take me in his arms and give me a hug. I didn't do that but the need was SO there.
You see, there has never been and will never be someone quite like my dad in my life. I think it has taken me until this very day to realize it but I am pretty sure that he was one person in my life who truly spoke my love language--words of affirmation. And believe me, he did it with very few words.
My dad was a quiet, humble man who didn't make a big show of anything in his life. But he spoke to my heart in ways that very few others could ever do. He lived his Christian faith every single day and was the most awesome example to me. And he loved us so deeply. He had a way of loving me and being my father who was disciplining me at the same time.
Once I was down in "the jungle" of our farm doing some discing for my dad. On my way back to the house I had a little "incident" with the rig and kind of messed it up a bit. I was kind of afraid to tell my dad what happened but I also knew his character. He was clearly frustrated by what I had done but he lovingly forgave me and said that it could happen to anyone. His kindness and patience to me spoke volumes of his love which I will never forget.
I'll also never forget once (after I had been married for a while) when I was going to give a concert at our family Bible camp one morning during the sharing hour. Not long before I was getting ready to go up and sing my dad gave me a note he had written to me. It said something like 'don't ever sing words that you don't mean' or something to that affect. That note crushed me and brought me to tears. I went to my dad and asked him if he could see anything in my heart that made him think that I was not sincere in my singing of the songs I had picked out. He said no but that he just always wanted to remind me to sing from my heart for Jesus and no one else. This was the kind of quiet power my dad had to guide me and love me so well.
I can honestly remember my dad holding me in his lap and singing quietly over me while he rocked me before bed as a toddler. In my memory, there was no safer or more wonderful place to be than in my daddy's arms.
Because my dad trusted in Jesus completely, I KNOW that he is in the very presence of God right now and was the moment after he took his last breath on this earth. Because of knowing that, the day I left him at the hospital the last words I whispered to him were--"I'll see you there, Dad." And thanks to his example, I will.
In the meantime, I sure do miss you Dad!