Thursday, September 15, 2011

An Unread Eulogy

As I write this I realize this will never be read at my father's funeral.  My father was called by some a private person-but more so he was a deeply humble man.  So what he has gone through will never be shared beyond these pages of scribbled tribute.

I watched one of those inspirational movies last lent.  I think the title was ‘A Father’s Love’.  The film clip was about a father who ran marathons pushing his disabled son’s wheelchair.  I came away realizing that my Dad had run many marathons for me in my life-the marathon of the working man providing for his family.  The years of day in, day out, 9-5 despite how he felt or what he would have liked to do.  Over 50 years of M-F, 9-5 to provide for his family.

We all carry crosses in life but my Dad’s road to Calvary began the day my mother died.  He did not embrace the loneliness of surviving someone you have lived as one with for over 64 years, but he did accept it, looking for God’s plan in his life.  He became the hub for our family throughout the next 5 years, always keeping us updated about each family’s joys and sorrows.  He missed mom - words cannot describe the loss - always expecting she was just in the next room.

His time in the Garden of Gethsemane lasted about 4 years.  The waiting and knowing that God would be calling him soon (but when?).  The anticipation of what his last journey would be like was difficult.  I believe he prayed - God’s will be done.

Most people outside our family will not know what my Dad has been through over the last year.  He gave up his driving so as not to put others at risk and as a result did not get out as much.  He often refused offers to be driven places by friends in the community as he didn’t want to add to their “load”.  He pushed himself each day - most of the time feeling he was not doing enough.

Dad often complained - “I have no strength” but he really was a “super” man as he faced each day, pushing himself to live – after all, that was what God wanted him to do.
Dad grumbled, moaned, and questioned the “sense of it all” – that was his inspiration to me – his endurance.  He followed his conscience – his sense of right and wrong.  He knew he was doing what God was asking of him especially over the last 4 weeks of his life.

Dad had a small heart attack 4 weeks ago.  It pushed his body’s heart and kidneys beyond their limits. He endured.  He kept putting one foot in front of the other to the next step.  He had his girls to care for.  He was reluctant to let them help carry his cross – how could he burden them.

His cross-got heavier – itching, breathlessness, chest pressure, swelling, sleepless/restless nights, that slow forced letting go of control (not able to make dinner – he would still direct proceedings from his chair).  His frustration flared when he was not kept informed of “the plan” or when we would try to ease his burden by doing something (like buying groceries without telling him). He was always fully aware of what was happening around him as he lost his life by inches.  After speaking to his doctor and being told he was dying, his first response to us was- “You need to get Fr Vern’s pix back to him.”

It was so hard watching Dad suffer – he would die as he lived – enduring the struggle – doing what he knew to be right.  He taught me an important lesson – following his conscience despite where it led.  He was a brave man.  I like to think my mom was with him through it all – through her daughter’s hands and love.

I think Dad was at peace in the last hours of his life.  He came home from hospital in an ambulance – dignity intact.  He was alert and walked into his home to his reclining chair.
His last words before falling into his last sleep were “I don’t know what to do.”  I desperately wanted to say something – something wise and comforting.  All I could think of was “Just rest Dad – just rest.” .  He leaned back in his reclining chair and 12 hours later went to his rest with the Lord.

I am sure my mom was there to greet him.  I think she was waiting for him these past 5 years.

My Dad taught me so many things in my life –
·      to discern,
·      to endure,
·      to listen to my conscience,
·      to be true to God wherever He leads,
·      that suffering is not easy but a part of life and
·      that at the end God is waiting.
Thank you Dad.  I hope I listened well.