Tag Archives: father

Born to Earth, Born to Eternity

I have been away from the blog for the past three weeks. I have been busy in and out of the hospital with Theresa and her father. Fortunately, Theresa is getting better. Unfortunately, Theresa’s father passed away on the 18th. He was 96 years old. In his life, he touched many lives. He worked as a lawyer and served on planning boards throughout the area. Theresa is one of eight. He worked hard to support his large family.

I could tell the lasting impact he had on his children. Not only was he surrounded by his children in his final days, but was visited numerous times each week for many years prior. He had a long, wonderful life on earth, and I have no doubt that he has begun his new life in the eternal as well. He will also continue to live here in the hearts and minds of those who loved and knew him.

Religions, or the lack of, have strived to explain or answer the question as to what happens after death.  Some believe that there is nothing after death – we’re here and then we die and that is the end of the story. Some believe in the journey of the soul to be transferred into the body of a newborn. Others believe that the soul is reborn into any creation, not necessarily human. Others believe that souls spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. Often people believe a combination of these, not really sure what to believe.

I believe that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Jesus died for all of us. There are those who defiantly resist God, and they will be dealt with as God sees fit. It is not my place to judge.

Funerals are for the living. They are a ceremony, not only to celebrate the life of the one is no longer alive on earth, but to support the family and say our goodbyes. It is part of the grieving process. Theresa’s father’s funeral was a positive one. I enjoyed listening to the memories and stories. Even though there were lots of tears and crying, it was wonderful to learn how he had touched the lives of so many people.

I was in the Army and so was Theresa’s father. He had military honors at the graveyard. A musician played taps on a very soulful bugle. It brought a tear to my eye. The carefully folded flag was presented to Theresa’s oldest sister.

Charles Spurgeon said, “When the time comes for you to die, you need not be afraid, because death cannot separate you from God’s love.”  I know for sure, that even in death, Theresa’s father will never be separated from the love of his family and friends.

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American Idol – Happy Father’s Day

As always, I think there is a difference between a Father and a Dad. My father became more my Dad in my later teens. When I think about some of the special things that Dad’s do, it makes me smile. Dad is the one who chases away the monsters who live under your bed. Dad is the one who coaxes you up the ladder but holds his arms out reassuring you that he will catch you if you fall, while your Mom frets for your safety. Dad is our family and spiritual leader. Dad represents authority that is loving, gentle, strong and sturdy. Dad teaches us to take reasonable risks. Dad makes us believe in ourselves. Dad is the wonderful balance to our Mom. Mom is delicate, nurturing, safe. It is the influence of both parents that loan balance to our lives.

When Dad is in our life when we are young, we tend it idolize him. That is not altogether a bad thing, because of what Dad represents to us. When Dad provides for the family, we are free to play and learn, not worrying about where the next meal will come from. Dad and Mom help to insulate and protect us.

My father is gone now. He died five years ago this weekend. He had a difficult time saying “I love you” until his final weeks, then the words came easy. I love him deeply and miss him very much. Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads, past present and future.

I am attaching two video clips, A Real American Idol and The Box.

It’s A Dad’s Life

My niece sent me this video link. I think it is great. Thank you so much, Angela.

 Now, my opinion has always been that any man can be a father, but it takes a special man to be a Dad. Any man can be a Dad, whether he has had children or not. Being a Dad isn’t hereditary, it is a relationship, one of love and acceptance. It is a relationship where the child feels safe.  To me, being a Dad means protecting, loving, accepting, caring for and providing emotional support to a child. A Dad is not a sperm donor, that is a father, a Dad is so much more. If you are a father, I hope that you are a Dad too, your children will appreciate that more than you will ever know. There is so much magic and love in a hug accompanied by the words, “I love you, Daddy.”

Anyway, here is the video. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. A one, and a two, and…….

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Lessons from Death – Part Five

If you missed Part One you can find it here Lessons from Death – Part One

   The older of my sisters (they are both younger than me) drove to Upstate NY to be with her father. My younger sister refused to come, her pain and anger kept her from her father’s side.

   On my father’s last day among us, he seemed to perk up just a bit. He held my hand, looked into my eyes and said, “Don’t worry, Harry, I’m going to be all right.” I was so relieved. He made it through another storm. He laid back and smiled. He died just a few hours later in my arms.

   Just minutes before his death, my sister had gone to my home to rest from her long trip. After saying “I love you, Dad; I’ll miss you,” into his ear as he passed. I felt his body collapse. I thought about my older sister. I ran to the lobby and frantically called her on my cell phone. I was so afraid she would be upset. I was wrong. She WAS upset that he passed but not upset that she wasn’t there. She told me that Dad knew she wouldn’t want to watch him die so he waited until she left. I am not sure if that was true but I accepted it as so.

   The nurses did some quick paperwork. They called a grief counselor for me. We hugged and cried. I went to the hospital chapel, still in tears, and prayed. God answered, “Don’t worry, Harry, he’s going to be all right.” I let go of my selfish desire to keep my father here on earth and gladly gave him over to my God. I hope God puts him in a garden. He was always happy in a garden.

Follow this link to Lessons from Death – Conclusion?

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Lessons from Death – Part Four

If you missed Part One you can find it here Lessons from Death – Part One

   Just before my father’s final ambulance ride, I woke up and made my way to the kitchen as I did every morning. I was startled to find my father, folded against his bed face down. I immediately went to him, dropping to my knees. I shook him. He responded with a weak moan. I thanked God he was alive. How long had he been like that? Minutes? Hours? I had no idea. I called 9-1-1. They asked how long he had been down. I could only answer that I didn’t know.

   Within a few hours, my father was alert. By that time, he was getting IV fluids and a blood transfusion. He kept asking me what had happened. I had no answers for him. He could not recollect anything that had happened. As far as he knew, he just woke up in the hospital.

   He was admitted to the hospital for observation. This began his final week among us. My father actually seemed to be doing well. Phew! We thought, another crisis over. It seemed as though we had just breathed a sigh of relief when my father developed a high fever. The doctors and nurses worked hard to control his raging infection. His immune system had already been compromised. He just couldn’t fight it.

   A health proxy, completed much earlier, stated his wishes against feeding tubes and artificial ventilation in favor of a natural passing. A “do not resuscitate” order was already in place. I tell you this because he refused to eat. I agonized between letting him refuse nutrition or forcing him to eat. I tried to feed him fortified pudding but he begged me to stop. I felt helpless. He told me, “Harry, I just can’t do this anymore.” Now, I really felt helpless.

   His doctor held a conference with my girlfriend, my sons, and me. He explained that all they were doing was not affecting the outcome. I made the very difficult decision to honor my father’s wishes and allow him a natural death. He would be made as comfortable as possible until the end. I was letting him go. I desired to and hated to. The anguish of it all stunned me. I would learn later that my youngest sister considered my decision “the killing of her father.” She no longer talks to me.

   The next contribution to this series describes the final letting go and my initial misunderstanding of my father’s last words to me.

Follow this link to Lessons from Death – Part Five

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Lessons from Death – Part Three

If you missed Part One you can find it here Lessons from Death – Part One

   The sudden request from my father to move in with us caught me off guard. He was to be released from the rehabilitation center two days after he asked to live with me. My sister packed some of his things. She put together his finances so that I could take those with me. He had only been to Upstate NY once before. He always thought it was too far to drive. Somehow, it was much closer for me to drive to Maryland with my car packed with luggage, wife, and kids. In his mind, I’m sure I did live closer to him than he did to me.

   He enjoyed the trip. I believe he saw it as a new adventure. He seemed more energetic and excited as we drew near to our destination. After an eight-hour ride, we arrived at my home, a home my father had never seen before. He seemed pleased with his new surroundings. The very next day he was planning to turn my back yard into a garden. I had to explain to him that the park that I live in had certain restrictions concerning gardens. I told him that I would think of something.

   My father loved western shows and movies. Luckily, our cable company had a channel dedicated to such a genre. The livingroom TV was set to that station for him. He never did get the hang of the remote. I went to the library and signed out large print books for him to read. I spent most of my time that week preparing our livingroom to be a proper place for my father to stay. He had much more energy than I had expected. His spirits were greatly lifted. He begged to help with the cooking. I was very pleased to witness what I thought was a recovery. I assembled a team of doctors for his care.

   A newsletter was designed and published so that it could be sent to his friends (they weren’t all dead afterall) and family so everyone could be informed as to his progress. A new edition of the newsletter went out every two or three weeks. I purchased an amplified phone so that loved ones could call. He was very hard of hearing and did not have much luck with those “fangled” hearing aids.

   He did surprisingly well until Spring, his favorite time of year. That is when the planting begins. He had supported himself with a cane, but the cane no longer proved sufficient. We borrowed a wheelchair for him. He was so disappointed. He wanted to be in the garden, any garden. My neighbor told me about square foot gardening as an alternative. It was a great idea. Then God improved on the idea – He inspired me to think garden tables! Take the square foot garden idea and elevate it to a level that would accept a wheelchair. My father was so happy. He brightened up again. He was just like a child with a brand new toy.

   He didn’t see much of the harvest from those tables. He grew ever tired and more ill shortly after working on the garden tables. I realize now that his excitement and energy was much like a bulb that burns ever brighter before going dim. His illness finally caught up with him. Soon he would have his last ride in an ambulance.

   Doing all this for my Dad was a wonderful task and a loving struggle. The most profound lesson I learned from this is that you don’t help people die, you help them live until they just can’t live any more.

   The next contribution will explore his last days and the incredible preciousness of life and letting go. Until next time, take care, stay well and be safe.

Follow this link to Lessons from Death – Part Four

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Lessons from Death – Part Two

If you missed Part One, you can find it here Lessons from Death – Part One

My father always checked the obituary page in the paper first.  He said it was to make sure that he wasn’t listed.  For the longest while, he would attend many of the funerals of people or families that he knew.  It probably isn’t true, but it seemed as though my father knew most of the families in the county.  If he didn’t attend the funeral, then sometimes he would stop and deliver his condolences to the family home in person.

   My father’s “funeral” ministry ended when my mother died.  He stopped going to funerals.  He said that funerals were too painful, that it reminded him too much of losing my mother.  I would have thought that it would have made consoling others even more meaningful but I suppose that the pain was too great.  The only funeral that he attended after my mother’s death, at least that I’m aware of, was that of his own mother.

   My father suffered from multiple cancers for over five years.  He lived with my sister, who worked a lot of overtime hours.  Early on, my father remained quite independent, but as his illness progressed, his geographic world began to shrink.  I had asked him to come live with my family and me.  He turned down this invitation time and time again, stating that his friends lived in Maryland.  He spent most of his life in Cecil County, Maryland.  I live in Upstate New York.

   In late 2005, my father’s cancer tightened its grip on his life.  He was in and out of hospital and rehabilitation.  Chemotherapy and blood transfusion became more regular.  He participated in a drug study that, I believe, extended his life.

   In January 2006, my father, exhausted from his long fight, asked if he could live with me – to spend his last days with me.  This was an incredibly emotional request for me to consider.  Of course, I blurted out “Yes” right away.

  I asked, “What about your friends?”

  “They are all dead,” my father replied.  I knew that was not true, but I did not protest his answer.

   This was the last leg of my father’s journey and an incredible path that was an honor and a great privilege for me to travel.

   To be continued…

Follow this link to Lessons from Death – Part Three

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