My Father’s Final Gift

I would like to share my father’s final gift with you – a gift he unknowingly gave to me in death.  I received this most precious gift on a beautiful sunny day in April.  I’ll never forget the sky, it was so blue and the air was so crisp – God had created a simply gorgeous Spring day.  It was hard for me to imagine that anyone (much less my father) could be dying on such a glorious, beautiful day…

I remember I didn’t want to go to the hospital to visit my father on that beautiful day. I knew I had to but I didn’t want to.  I didn’t want to see him dying, but I had to be there for him.  I knew deep in my heart that when I left the hospital whether it was that afternoon, that evening, or even the next day my father would be gone and my life would be changed forever, and I didn’t want that to happen.   At the time I didn’t realize the magnitude of what was about to take place.  I had no idea of how my life was going to change and I never imagined that his death would bring me  a new understanding of life and death.  I never imagined that my father was about to give me the most precious gift that I could ever receive…  I never imagined that my father was about to introduce me to the miracle of death, and the presence of God…

Parkinson’s disease had racked my father’s body for many years, and now this once strong, strapping, energetic man was laying in a hospital bed dying.  He had no idea what a gorgeous day God had created for his passing.  He hadn’t opened his eyes for days.  He had already separated himself from the world; we were the ones holding on.  Even though I was fifty years old and my father was in his seventies I still felt like his little girl. Where had all those years gone?  I thought if only we could go back in time, things would be different.  We would spend more time together.  We would be closer as a family.  All these thoughts were going through my head and the hurt inside made me want to cry out in anguish.

The whole family had gathered around his bedside that morning but now they were gone.  They just couldn’t be there when death came to take my father. My daughter Brooke and I were the only ones left but we were happy to be alone with him, somehow it all just seemed right.  The room was quiet and filled with brilliant sunlight.  My father was resting peacefully.

Our small family had been through a lot these past years.  It had only been two years earlier that we faced death with my husband’s father and mother.  Their deaths were only months apart.  We were all too familiar with what was about to happen.   My daughter had grown up to be a wonderful young lady, and I was so glad to have her with me.  We had found courage and strength in each other before while facing the death of a loved one together.  Somehow we knew we would find the courage again as we stood at my father’s bedside.

We positioned our selves at each side of my father’s bed.  We talked to him constantly and rubbed his arms gently to let him know that we were there.  Occasionally we would bend over and kiss his forehead.  There was little else we could do.  The sunlight was still streaming into the room making it feel warm.  Throughout the afternoon hours the room began to feel different to us.  It had a glow and a there was a feeling in the air of peace and love.  For that brief moment in time it no longer felt like a hospital room.

When it became apparent that the end was very near we asked for the Priest to come in to give him the “Last Rites.”  My father was not a religious man, but my mother was certain that this is what he would want.  In these last few moments he was aware of what was happening.  He didn’t open his eyes but tears ran down his cheeks as the Priest gave him the “Last Rites.”  Again, I felt the urge to cry out as his breathing became labored, and in a matter of minutes he was gone.  My daughter and I said our prayers and our final good-byes together making the bond between us even stronger, and the sunlight still streamed into the room – it was everywhere – my father’s final gift came wrapped in sunlight, the light and love of God…  We lingered for a while in the peaceful white light surrounding my father; not quite knowing what to do.  Leaving now just didn’t seem right.  But, he was gone and the sunlight still streamed into the room – it was even more brilliant than moments before.  One final good-bye and we made our way down the hallway.  Outside in the sunlight on that beautiful Sunday afternoon life went on, and we were caught up in the traffic and noises of a busy city.  Still the emptiness remained and shock set in…

We now felt completely exhausted.  We felt as if we didn’t belong in this busy city.  Grief filled our hearts and the sunlight was everywhere.  We felt as if we weren’t a part of the real world…not yet…not so soon…we needed time…  Our lives had once more changed forever…another family member was gone…the loss was over powering.

Suddenly we looked at each other and we both realized the precious gift that he had unknowingly given us in death.  With tears streaming down our faces we hugged each other very tightly as only a mother and daughter can.  We spoke of the beauty of his passing and we knew everything was going to be all right.  Without speaking he had shown us that death is as much a part of life as giving birth.  My father had shown us that death is a new beginning.  My father had showed us there was nothing to fear.  We felt so close when death came although no words were spoken.  We felt a spiritual presence, the presence of God that engulfed us in its brilliant light, and comforted us at the time of his passing.  And we understood that there was nothing to fear…for it was truly a new beginning…  My father had introduced me to God in a way I had never experienced before.

My father’s final gift renewed and deepened my faith, and brought me closer to God than I had ever been before in my life – God was real and he was by my side!  My father’s final gift took away the fear of death, and made it a new beginning.  My father’s final gift is a gift that I will cherish in my heart always.  It is a gift that continues to grow each day as I continue my spiritual journey through life… My life has taken on new meaning…

I was given a gift of spirit, of inner peace, of strength, of knowledge, of wisdom, of power and of faith everlasting.  This was truly the most precious gift my father had ever given to me!  My father introduced me to God, he is real, and he is by my side.  That is the gift that I feel so compelled to share with you.  My father’s final gift will be in my heart forever, and I will always remember the  brilliant sunlight of that day… and his peaceful passing…

 

Paula Ezop

More Articles Written by Paula

Paula M. Ezop is a spirituality commentary columnist. Her inspirational columns Following the Spiritual Soul have appeared in Oconee Today, a South Carolina Scripps Howard publication. They are currently in: Celebrating the Success of the Modern Woman, Esteem Yourself, and Open to Hope. She has contributed to such popular books as Chicken Soup for the Caregivers Soul and she has written the foreword to Whispers of Inspiration, a collection of both poetry and prose gathered from voices around the world. Paula also co-authored a book in the Mommies Line, Spirituality for Mommies. Her Ebook Sparkly Bits of Spiritual Wisdom is available online, it is a collection of her inspirational columns. She has also written Sparkly Bits of Spiritual Wisdom – 29 ½ Ways for Women to Get In Touch With Their Spirits. Closest to her heart is her most recent book, A Widow’s Journey – Healing a Broken Heart. Wiggles Press has published her children’s chapter books, The Adventures of Penelope Star and the Mystery of the Three Dragons, and Lee McKenzie’s Summer to Remember – both are the first in a series. Paula holds the Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Elementary Education from Northeastern Illinois University. Her heartfelt and meaningful writing began as a means to overcome the loss of her husband. Paula has now written hundreds of articles and several books centering on life and faith. Her sustaining philosophy is that “we are more than the woman we see in our mirror.”

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