04 Feb

Graduation day

My dad graduated today. He went to be with the Lord. If you know our story you know that we had been separated for 35 years. Not until 3 years ago, January 20, 2014, did we hit reset on our relationship. 

If you want the full story, I am happy to share it with you someday but needless to say, it is nothing short of a miracle that we were ever together again. 

Let’s just say if it had been a bed of roses, there would have been a few peddles and a whole lot of thorns. 

But people change, God does miracles and forgiveness can be granted and reconciliation can become an amazing reality. 

Dad and I made a deal 3 years ago. No looking back. It’s water under the bridge. We agreed to make new memories and I am so tickled to say we did. 

Two of my cousins, they know who they are, played a huge part in making my dad’s dream come true and what seemed impossible a reality in my own life. 

For three years Dad and I hung out, went for rides in the country and talked about life and legacy. 

His health started to decline pretty rapidly. COPD had taken its toll on the one time firefighter. I nearly lost him several times the last 3 years. 

As we were walking out of the hospital one day he stopped as we were leaving and said, “You know, they think I should be dead by now but you and I know God is giving me more time with you.” 

I never dreamed we would have 3 years together. It went by fast. But today Dad crossed on over to the other side of eternity. 

I am grateful for the last time I saw him alive. He had grown so feeble and as bedtime arrived I picked him up in my arms, laid him in his bed, changed his clothes, said a prayer for him and kissed him on the forehead. He said, “Thanks for coming. Come again. I know you will.”  

A few days later I traveled out of town to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. During one of the meetings I got a call that he had taken a turn for the worst. 

Two of my best friends dropped what they were doing and went and prayed with my dad and delivered the message that I loved him. 

He was fading in and out when my kids arrived to say their goodbyes, sing him songs, hold his hand and give him kisses. They too let him know I was thinking about him. They held the phone to his ear as I prayed for him and did all I could to cheer him on from so far away. 

He did his best to muster a reply. What he said was hard to understand but I knew he was doing his best to say his goodbyes.

Several hours later, as I boarded the plane to head home, the call came from my oldest son, that dad had died as another friend blessed me by standing at Dad’s side, holding his hand on my behalf reading him the 23rd Psalm. Seconds after the last verse was read Dad took his last breath. God’s timing is perfect. 

I will forever cherish my last memory of my dad alive. But I also kept my promise. I did come back and just a few hours ago I stood at his side, kissed his forehead realizing that it might be at least another 35 until we meet again. But as before, there will be no looking back. Only new memories that will last for eternity. God is good. No, God is great! What a blessing. 

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. Reconciliation a true bonus. What a picture of what Jesus offers each and every one of us! 

Love you Dad! Get to work on the cotton fields there in heaven! They look like clouds from down here. I’m just glad you’re not fighting fire! This I know for sure, because we got that issue settled no doubt! I am thrilled knowing that Jesus welcomed you home today with open loving arms! 

The photo of us was taken just a few days ago on our 3 year reunion anniversary. We celebrated by eating one of his favorite things, chocolate covered peanuts. We laughed as I had to wipe his hands and face from the mess he made from all the melted chocolate! (January 20, 2017.)