Last night was a special night. Some wonderful friends of ours, Paul and Faith Wyma, were in town visiting, staying with my mom. Paul and Faith and my parents worked together as missionaries in the jungles of Bolivia where I grew up. My family + our friend Louis, my brother Mark and sister-in-law Judy, my sister-in-law Julia and her kids, John and Meghann, Paul and Faith and my mom all gathered around the dinner table and were treated to wonderful THAI FOOD that Faith cooked for us! It was delicious.
The conversation was rich and memories flooded through like rays of sunshine creeping over the horizon, filling our hearts. There was only one thing that clouded the evening for me – I missed my dad and my oldest brother who are both enjoying eternity now in heaven. It’s funny how no matter how much time passes, sometimes the longing and pain of missing someone who has passed away is just as fresh as if they’d gone the day before. I saw so much of my brother in his son, John, and was reminded how proud Howie would be of his now grown son. John – you fill a room with God’s love wherever you are and your dad would be so proud of you!
Today I continue to reminisce about my dad and my brother and as I was looking for something on my computer, I stumbled across something I had written on my way home – we were taking Robbin, our oldest daughter to New York to get her settled into her dorm at Nyack College for her freshman year (she starts her senior year of college this fall – wow, time flies!) and along the way, the news reached us that my dad had passed away. It was so hard to not be with my family at that time. We’d had to make the hard decision of leaving, knowing that it was likely that my dad wouldn’t be able to make it until we returned. I knew he’d want us to keep living, though, and would have encouraged us to go.
My dad’s last decade with us took a different turn than we expected, he journeyed through the disease of Alzheimer’s. We learned a lot about each other as a family as we each walked through this journey with my dad. We learned to treasure every word – they were soon gone – and every embrace – they also faded away – and every look that said “I know who you are” for soon that was taken from us too. I remember the difficult day when Dad didn’t recognize me – with confusion he’d look at me, so I would just say, “It’s okay Dad, I know who YOU are and that’s all that matters!” He remained gentle to the very end and somehow managed to still teach me so much even though he was no longer able to talk to me. I’m so glad he’s free from the grips of this horrible disease, but I do miss him and always will.
Here’s the tribute to my Dad that I wrote as I was driving across somewhere in Missouri on my way back home to be with my family.
THE ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP
How difficult it was to say goodbye
Both of us facing the ultimate road trip
Your destination was perfect –
Making it easier to bear
Knowing you’d be forever in His care
Driving across the country
Memories flooded my mind
How could your life be ending
The week Robbin’s new chapter
Was just beginning?
Hearing the news somewhere in Missouri
That God had gently taken you home –
It took all the courage I could find
But in rejoicing in the Lord
I found peace that is not of this world’s kind
Being away when you were buried
Was the most trying time ever
But reflecting on my Dad who is larger than life
Made the day one where I could see
That I was blessed beyond measure
Checking Robbin in to college
Filled with anxiety about leaving her
I had to think about the times that you
Filled with wisdom reminded me time and again
That God’s care would always be with her for sure
Now I am driving back on this ultimate road trip
I can’t stand the thought that you’re no longer there
So again I find my strength only in the Lord
Knowing that by your example
I can be filled with His joy and a peace only He will afford
Thanks Dad, for the life lessons
That even through your silence you gave
Your dignity always amazed me
It was a reflection of what was deep inside
Your relationship with Christ fills me with pride
I’ve always been awful with good byes
So instead I will just say until then
Until the day I most long for
Where no more sorrow awaits
I will trust in Him – for He alone knows when.
I love you Dad!