Monday, June 14, 2010

10 Years

Ten years ago today life changed forever. I remember the moment as though it just happened. For me, on a personal level, it is a line drawn through the history of my life. On the other side was a naive joy that I totally took for granted. This side of the line contains the things that go along with age and maturity. They are over-rated. They are also unavoidable.

Ten years ago today I was attending Centrifuge with a hundred or so of my closest friends at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. It was around 9:30AM. I had finished breakfast with multiple tables of teens. And then I had made my way to a pay phone in a university hallway. I had a daily phone call to make.

My dad was sick. He was eighty years old and seemed to be increasingly in poor health. I dialed the number and my mother answered the phone. She quickly told me of how my father had become disoriented the night before, had fallen, hit his head on a night stand, and was now in the hospital. Dad was dealing with what had proved to be a very slow growing liver cancer. He had battled it for over a decade. Lately he was on chemo. It was not fun to watch. Dad was always a man of great strength, both of physical stature and character.

After talking to my mother I called my father's hospital room. He was thinking and talking clearly though he sounded weak. He told me what had happened to the best of his recollection. I assured him that I had plenty of adults to take care of the kids at camp and I would be leaving to come to his bedside on that very day. Dad's response was simple and yet strong. He said, "No son. You stay there and you do a good job." As always I obeyed my dad.

I didn't know it at the time but dad was just over a week away from death. As I thought about that today I realized how blessed I had been. I was 44 years old and, while I had conducted many funeral services, dad was the first person I had lost that I was truly close to.

Ten years. It's very hard to believe. I miss him more than I can say. I still remember his phone number and have an uncanny urge to dial it every now and then. My tower of strength was falling. My hero was coming to the end of his fight. I don't understand it but I miss him more today than I did that first year he was gone.

I hope I have done what dad told me to do. I hoped I have stayed the course. I hope I have done a good job. He may be gone but he's my dad. And I still want to make him smile.


The Dashboard Poet said...

You have done a good job. You are doing a good job. You will do a good job, because you are your father's son, and that's all you know how to do, and that's all you know how to be.
Dad climbed an aluminum ladder... you climb Jacob's ladder. Both of them get you where you're going. Dad took windows with him. You take people. His example made your job clear. You keep on going, despite the weather (the atmosphere around you), and regardless of being weary. You have always done your job. You are relentless. Like him. Yep. Dad must be very proud of you.

Carol Davis said...

I can totally relate, except my dad was 47 and dying from Pancreatic Cancer. There are so many times I wonder how my life would have been different and how my kids would have had such a better life because of my dad giving his grandson lessons on how to hunt and carry a gun properly, how to fish, build things, have a fabulous yard and how his granddaughter would have been the apple of his eye when he would build her a real life sized play house, given her advice, and been tickled over their funny thoughts and thinking.

I too, miss my dad and can't believe it has been 30 years he has been gone and I still remember his advice to me: Never do business with friends, never put off what you can do today, keep the car washed and waxed and keep the oil changed, and what haunts me the most, "Your mom and I won't always be around" when he wanted me to do something for myself or learn a lesson.

I watched my dad die and remember the last words I spoke to him in his comatose state which the nurses believed he could still hear me, "I love you daddy and I will see you in heaven one day". Thanks to the Woods family I can take that to the bank. What a reunion that will be!!

Know, that you were a great son, that your dad is and was proud of you. He is beaming in heaven over the beautiful family you have and the man you have become.