Father’s Day is just ahead, and for more than 150 million Americans whose fathers have died, it will be a day of missing Dad. Father’s Day can be a traumatic day for those of us whose fathers who have died and the anticipation of the day is often as difficult – or even more difficult – than the holiday itself. Whether it’s been recent or many years since Dad passed away, we have to somehow get through the day as well as remember and honor Dad’s life.
When John Pete ask me to write a blog on how my faith is challenged, restored or reinforced as related to losses in our lives he forgot one thing, “how my faith was created?” I have had countless sleepless nights struggling over this blog and I am being moved out of my comfort zone. I can hear God saying “Susan, let me hear you say it.” My relationship with God is very personal to me. Oh, I will say to people, “I will keep you in my prayers” but that is about it. I had a extremely rough childhood by the hands of my mother and I was brought up in a home where I was never introduced to God. So as a young child, a young woman and eventually a young mother with her hands full I did not need God nor did I have time for him. My best friend, Sharon, visited a church that she just fell in love with and had being asking me to go to church and I would just brush her off and told her I did not have time for church. Sharon would not let up, for two weeks she was in my face and she would not let up. Till finally she did the ultimate, she dared me to come to church for the first time, she even double dogged dared me. So on the first Sunday, December 2001, I walked thru the doors of The Village Church and it changed my life. It was perfect for me, very low key, not to many rules, except to extend Love and Grace and I became very active in my role as a church member for the last eight years. They taught me how to pray and to learn all about wonders of God at my own pace. What she did was prepare me to take my first few steps in my spiritual walk with God when I need it the most.
Dad had numerous heart attacks and strokes, some were major ones and some were minor. But through it all I knew God was there holding me up so I would be strong for Daddy. During the summer of 2005, the Doctors gave us some devastating news, “Your Father has a 5.5 aortic aneurysm and we cannot operate.” I took the Doctor aside and ask how long does he have? He said. “I am not GOD, but I predict a year with the other health problems he has.” Time stood still at that very moment, I moved Dad in my home, I never told him he had a year to live and God never left my side.
What was to be all in God’s plan truly amazed me. I introduced Dad to God and the church for the first time and he was baptized a couple of years later at the age of 75 for that was truly a blessing for all to witness. For the next three years I lived in fear. Fear that Dad would pass at any moment, fear that I would find him, fear that each morning as I walked down the 13 steps from my bedroom to the den I would call his name, and he would have passed without loved ones around. I had a fear that his death would be a painful death with the aneurysm that grew to be a 9.2. I would ask God each day to please take him in his sleep. For the next three years God whispered in my ear of some amazing things I could do for Dad that not only pleased him but left some very special memories for me. Dad had never told us three girls that he loved us. It was just something an old country boy never said. But in March of 2008 he looked at me with tears in his eyes and told me he loved me and was proud of me for the first time in 50 years.
Dad was going downhill very fast and on Memorial Day weekend last year, the family had a 4 day vigil and we never left his side. Dad was doing great, brought people in to visit him, laughed, and joked like there was nothing wrong. He did not know for I could not tell him he was dying. What happen in those 4 days is not a blur for God made it so crystal clear I can remember the power and the feeling of his love and God made sure I was given what I needed. I got enough “I love you” from Daddy to last a life time, enough special memories in those four days and most important he passed from the loving arms of his family to the loving arms of God without any pain as I ask of God. The odds were against him to pass this way, but God answered my prayers.
My Daddy, J.C. Card was a World War II Veteran. He loved this country, hunting and fishing, his three girls, grandchildren, our dog Molly and he loved God. I was there as they covered him with the American Flag and took him out of my home and I was there when I heard the 21 gun salute and the faint sound of Taps and I was there as as they lowered him in the ground so I know this man’s life has cease to exist here on this earth. But I also know without a shadow of doubt that his love and presence is always with me as well as my God. I have felt their presence many times and God has allowed Daddy to come to me during the last 12 months, to feel his love and to comfort me.
I am still learning and I am still walking with God and he understands when I take the wrong path for he gently leads me back on the right road and I thank God each and every day gift of having my Daddy in my life.
Susan is a moderator for the “Loss of A Parent” Group and coordinates our “Welcome Wagon” at MyGriefSpace.Net.