My dad has become very weak and frail over the past few weeks and now is close to being done with his time here on earth. Leo and I went up to see him yesterday afternoon. For the first time in my visits to him, he hardly responded at all. On Remembrance day he was sitting up (propped with pillows) and talked to us if we aroused him from his sleepiness. Yesterday he hardly opened his eyes. His hand still squeezed mine but there was little other response. He has lost interest in eating and drinking.
I chose one of my favorite Psalms to read from – Psalm 37. Then I prayed for him.
His skin is transparent, like parchment paper. His strength is gone. His body seems like it has simply worn out. He needs a new one. And soon … Soon he will be really at home where he will be really renewed and well. My mom is already there, and Logan and many friends and relatives who have gotten there first. That will be good.
But we will miss him. I feel this bittersweet sadness inside.
Some of my early memories:
– He was a good driver and I knew that when I was little. Sure of that, I always felt safe to fall asleep. Had to learn to stay awake when I became the driver.
– If I wasn’t really asleep, I would pretend so that, when we got home, he would pick me up in his strong arms and carry me in to my bed.
– It was my dad who prayed with me when I decided that I wanted my life to belong to Jesus. I still have the image of the camp chapel, of him sitting next to me as we prayed, etched in my memory. I was only four. I also remember the multitude of times when I went to him in future years when I was unsure of my faith and he reassured me that God would always be with me.
– He would come in to my room and pray with me when I would wake up at night with nightmares. He assured me that God was there with me and quoted me the Psalm that states the God does not sleep nor slumber.
– There were times when his confidence and stubbornness got him into trouble. He would explore roads that sometimes led to nowhere. We would get stuck and spend hours getting out rather than call the nearest farmer for help – and sometimes would still have to do that after all.
– He liked to take pictures. I remember the bears we stopped to photograph. He got out of the car to do it. He got back in just in time chased by the bear.
And the memories go on and on. Some good, some of more difficult times. All part of remembering who he was.
He was a man of great faith and compassion. He served God with all he had and in all that he did. It was hard to watch him lose his sharp intellect as the Alzheimer’s disease caused the mental deterioration of the past few years. It was hard to see him become dependant and weak. But for me it has also been a time of blessing; getting an opportunity to simply love him back for no reason other than that he is my dad.