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Through the Glass Darkly, But Then, Face-To-Face, Happy Birthday Dad!

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Many of us baby boomers take the time each year to acknowledge the birthday of our parents’, or someone else dear to us who has passed away. As we age, I know more and more  friends have died, and with Facebook, we are more cognizant of the passage of time and how easily people slip away without us quite realizing how it happened.

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My dad’s parents and siblings meant so much to him in his lifetime. Family reunions were an important event to him until the end of his life. He and his sister shared a special bond toward the end of their lives, and it was precious to see. Our final barrier to death is that we can imagine what our parents might think of us today, but we can’t know for sure. It’s through the glass darkly now, but when we die, it will be a face-to-face experience.

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I am a notorious person for trying to figure out what things mean and how our history affects the way we see life–especially how we view our own lives. I love sharing memories with old friends, again, this is made much easier thanks to social media. But perception is such a part of those memories. It’s weird when you relate a memory to a friend and they have no idea what you’re talking about, and yet they can tell you another memory you don’t recall at all. Our percepts of the world are always our own, and what we perceive is like no other person’s experience. Below I would like to share an experience I had with my dad not long before he died.

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I remember a few months before he died my father had a minor heart attack and when he was in the hospital they put tubes down his throat so he could breathe. Afterwards, when he was back at his assisted-living apartment,  he told me about the experience. He said he drifted up to the ceiling and was looking down at all the people in the operating room. He saw a light.

My heart raced when he told me this and I asked, “Did you see Mom, or Grandma or Grandpa?”

Tears welled up in his eyes and I felt his sadness. “No, but I knew if I remembered the name, I could go.”

A flash of hope shot through me. “Was the name God or Jesus?”

He didn’t answer, but kept repeating, “If I could just remember the name.”

Every time I visited my father, he seemed a little bit stronger. After a month, I finally had the courage to bring up the subject again. “Remember when you used to say when you were dead, you were dead, and there was nothing else after?”

“Yes.”

“And do you remember when you were having that procedure done in the hospital you floated up to the ceiling?”

“Of course I do.”

“Dad, I think you came back for a reason. I think God was giving you another chance.”

After a moment’s hesitation, he said,  “I believe you’re right.”

“WouldyougowithmetochurchonSunday?” My question came out in one breath.

“Yes, I would.” He took my hand in his own.

The following Sunday, we drove up to the school auditorium where my church has services on Sundays. It was a hobbling walk for him up to the auditorium, but we managed. People reached out to give assistance as if realizing what a momentous occasion it was.

We sat in the back row of folding chairs, and another graying man leaned over and stared at my dad. “I know you. I used to do some building for you.”

My father’s eyes blurred for a minute, but then lit up with a hint of the old spark. “Darrell Hayes,  I remember you, too.”

After church, the men walked out together and spent time reminiscing about people they used to know. It seemed no small miracle that my father hadn’t been to church in nearly eighty years, and yet he’d found a church friend.

Each Sunday my father and I would go to church and the pastor always seemed to have the right sermon. I had confidence my father would learn the name he was searching for.

Two months later, when it was time for Dad to go, he had no need to struggle. The last time I saw him, he held my hand. “I’m ready to go now. You just gotta know the name.”

And all I can say today is I’m happy you learned the name, Dad, I’m so happy you learned the name. And happy birthday to you!

Thanks for stopping by.

Love,

Bren

 

 

 

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