Friday, January 28, 2011

All He Wanted Was My Hand

I saw my dad today like I've never seen him before. He underwent surgery yesterday in the hope that the surgery would put the cancer to sleep for an undetermine length of time. I didn't go see him yesterday knowing that he would be 'out of it for a while.' But I had to see him today.

He was in dialysis when we first arrived and was brought back to the room about an hour later. He had his eyes closed as they brought him in and arranged the bed in its proper place. He kepted his eyes closed until I called out to him at which time he opened them and began heavy crying and saying something about being with him and he reached out his hands.

I took his hands and assured him everything would be alright, trying to comfort him best I could. He said he hoped so and he pulled my hands close and tight to his chest and continued to cry.

I called out to God, "It's that time God! I need you to touch my dad. I need you to give him that comfort I've been praying for. I know you see him, Lord and I know you are crying with him. God please touch my daddy."

I could have three fingers amputated from my right hand and still count the number of times I've seen my dad cry on the same hand. Once was when he came to hear me preach a revival, the only time he has heard me preach, and the other as a little boy on the day we became a separated family. He has always been so good at holding in his emotions, but now the season has changed and the weather is bad. He doesn't understand what's happening and he's hurting so bad. Life can be so inhumane.

I held my dad's hand for a long time, first bending over his bed til my back was hurting to bad, then on my knees beside his bed til my knees hurted to bad then back to my feet, back and forth, back and forth. He held on, my hands in his, tight against his chest. He didn't speak much, just held my hands and closed his eyes and tears just streamed down the side of his face until he dozed off.

He didn't sleep long before the nurses came in and asked us to step out so they could do some of their duties that I won't describe here, but I told him I love him and I would be back. I had to come home, no, I wanted to come home. I wanted to get a way for a while and let it sink in a bit.

My dad, the strongest man I've ever known; my great teacher of compassion and love of family and friends; the greatest giver of a smile you could ever meet, and all he wanted was to hold my hand. How powerful and meaningful is the gift of a hand.

Merciful God, allow my daddy to feel the warmth of your hand and the gift of your grace. Amen

Monday, January 17, 2011

Words of a Father

This picture of
"Papa and the girls was taken about
two years ago.

I was just thinking about my dad. I've been at the hospital most of the day with him waiting for the doctor to come and share with me what options my family needed to choose from concerning his recently diagnosed prostate cancer and possible dementia.
Throughout the afternoon there were times when he called me by name, others when he talked with one of my cousins about me as if I wasn't there. He sometimes spoke in the present tense while other times he spoke in past tense way farther back than I could ever be knowledgeable of.
When it came to the word 'Love', it was obvious there was never a time zone involved. My daughters were with me and they would throughout the day tell my daddy that they loved him and he always responded with a smile and saying, "I love you too shug."
It brings to my mind Halloween 1972. This was the day that my mom left my dad. I was six years old and I was getting off the school bus and I saw my older brothers sitting on the porch and I saw my mom's car trunk open and my sister and mom putting stuff in it. I asked my brothers what they were doing and they told me that mom was leaving dad and that my younger brother and me, along with my sister were going with her.
I ran and jumped into my dad's van and grabbed the steering wheel determined not to let go of it. My mom came over and told me to get out of the van and go get into her car. Screaming NO!, I held onto that steering wheel with all the strength a six year old boy could muster. She finally told my dad to get me out and he came over and started pulling on me saying that I had to go with my mom. I kept on screaming 'Nooooo!!". I just knew that if I didn't let go of that steering wheel, they couldn't get me into mom's car and because they couldn't get me into her car, she couldn't leave and all would be well. The mind of a six year old child faced with the possibility of a broken family I guess.
But my dad kept on pulling on me and he placed his face against my face and he was crying and as he pulled on me he kept saying, "I'll always love you, I'll always love you, I'll always love you." Eventually he got me out of the van and into mom's car and forever a broken family we became.
Mom and Dad made peace along time ago and now, after nearly 39 years, they get along fine. They never got back together, mom remarried years later, dad never did, saying he married the only woman he ever loved. They are friends and they even tell each other those magically timeless words "I love you."
Hearing my dad telling my girls and me that he loves us, confirmed to me that those words he said to me inside that van all those years ago is something that he hasn't forgotten.
I'll always love you to dad.