I’m thinking of my dad today for some very special reasons. It’s been 6 ½ years since he went to heaven after fighting cancer for 8 years. Dad was the one of the godliest men I have ever known. He was so kind, selfless, and loving. He was firm in his faith, never wavering through all the ups and downs of life, including his two bouts with cancer which finally took his life. Yet despite his strong faith and his deep trust in the Lord, Dad seemed to have a great fear of death.
None of us looks forward to dying, so on many levels we could understand his dread. As he weakened and the end was coming nearer, he still seemed to struggle more and more with his uncertainties. Finally one evening my brother John spent some time alone with Dad, talking to Dad about what was on his heart. It was during this conversation that John was able to gently lead Dad to really express his concerns about dying. One of Dad’s biggest issues was that he wondered what he would say to Jesus when he first saw Him. We all just smiled and shook our heads when we heard that. There he was again, not worried about his own pain but instead concerned about what he would say to his Lord. And how like Dad that was! He was always the ultimate planner and organizer, so for him to face this uncertain encounter with no plan or idea of what it would be like was very hard for him to handle. Plus it very much showed his humility as he felt completely unworthy to stand before Jesus.
Something else that was heavy on my Dad’s heart was the fact that he would be leaving my mother. They had been inseparable during the 22 years of retirement they had enjoyed together. Then when dad was put in a hospital bed, Mom slept in their bed right beside him and they held hands through the rails. Dad knew that Mom was really showing the signs of Alzheimer’s in ways that we hadn’t seen. He kept trying to find ways to tell us about it without Mom hearing him because he was so worried about what she would do when he was gone, and he wouldn’t be there to help her. Part of his letting go was hearing our words of assurance that Mom would be cared for and that he didn’t need to worry about her.
But it wasn’t just that Dad was burdened about leaving Mom alone. It was also that he was very concerned, almost fearful, of him being without her in heaven. He was so close to her, so dependent on her in many ways, that the thought of being without her……even in heaven…..was nearly unbearable to him. So on the night that John talked to Dad, he told Dad to remember that God said a thousand years to Him is but a day. John said, “Dad, I really believe that when you go to heaven it’s going to be like you blink a couple times and then Mom will be right there with you.”
I don’t know that anything comforted Dad more than those words and that thought. Later that night, as Mom and I sat with him in their family room, he very softly and slowly shared that thought with us…..and he sweetly smiled as he said it. His soft, gentle smile….full of the hope that the separation from his Beth wouldn’t be so long after all. We all know it was that night when Dad felt released to go on to heaven. He knew that everything would be all right, and that Mom would join him in the blink of an eye. Several days later he left this earth for heaven.
I’m thinking of my Dad today, and definitely my mom, for another very special reason. Today my mother also left this earth for heaven. She and Dad are finally together, whole and healthy at last! I can’t imagine the joy they’re both experiencing right now to be with Jesus, and to be together for eternity. Jan told me that Mom opened her eyes, eyes that had been shut for days. It was as if she saw something. Then she closed her mouth, closed her eyes, and was gone. Did she see heaven? Did she see Dad, grinning from ear to ear? Did she see her Savior? What precious and awesome thoughts those are!
So while we cry at having to say goodbye to our last parent, we can’t help but smile and be so happy for her and for Dad. Oh my goodness, I would love to have seen that reunion! Someday we’ll join them there, and we’ll have so much joy and so much fun. But until then, while we will sometimes weep and we will often miss them both, we can smile at God’s sweet goodness and rejoice over the certain hope we have of life together in heaven.
Hey Mom, you and Dad have a great time up there!
When we all get there, I do hope the Lord lets us sing “Oh, It Rained, Rained, Rained” again, just to torment dad.
We’ll all see you in a couple blinks of an eye.