Twelve years ago today (or maybe it was yesterday?), my father said good-bye to the cancer and went on Home. We were all there, his family and closest friends, and he waited until my big brother made it there and mom told him it was okay to go. And he went.
And sometimes I just envy him, because he gets to be with Jesus, and he doesn't have to worry about fighting sin anymore, and he doesn't feel any pain any more, and he is doing what every one of us is created to do.
And sometimes I miss him. He was a teacher, and had a lot of wisdom to share, as well as a lot of random facts about anything and everything that made him sound smarter than he probably really was. How would I know? It took me a few years to remember that he wasn't perfect. He loved me and called me JR Jennifer and believed that I could be the President if I really wanted to.
I often wonder what I would be like had he been around for the past decade+ of my life. How would I be different? How would I be the same? Would I have made different choices? Would I be where I am or some other place entirely? I wonder about the impact on my spiritual growth and learning—having him around as I grew to be more serious about a relationship with God and what that means in my everyday life. I wonder what kind of input I have missed with him gone.
One of the last dates I had with him was out to some podunk town an hour or so away from Utica. I don't even remember which town. But we went to a coffee shop there to hear a favorite musician of his—Ed Gerhard, an amazing guitarist. It was a side of my dad I hadn't known before. A more relaxed version of the man who was very strict (though loving) and rather rigid in many ways as us kids were growing up. I think as he grew older, he let go of some of the rules he had laid on us as kids and started learning more about how to live a life that honors God without always keeping a checklist of "what not to do" handy.
I know that as the only girl, I have a different view of my dad than my brothers probably do. I think he related very differently with all three of us. I just wish there had been more time to figure out the relationship and to get to know my dad as an adult. For the last 11 months of his life, I moved home and spent time with him.
On Friday nights, we would walk up to the uptown bar & grill for the best fish fry in town, then rent a movie and head home. I don't remember most of the movies we watched, or many of the other places we tried the fish fry, or even really how many weeks we did this. I remember a night at Red Lobster where I tried his lobster and failed to see how it was any different from drowning pretty much ANYTHING in butter. Why pay so much when it was all about the butter?? I probably ordered chicken. Maybe steak.
I remember the night that he started telling me about a job interview he had conducted that day at work. He talked in a lot of detail about this interview, and I listened politely. My dad liked to talk. I would often rather have been reading a book. I finally, out of politeness, asked what position he was interviewing the person for. "Mine" he said. And I started crying. Realizing that he was wrapping things up. Getting ready to leave. Leave his job and leave this world. He talked about the "happenings" of the 60's that night, and I so wish I had gone straight to my room and written down that conversation that night so I wouldn't forget it.
The day we put his body in the ground was much like today: icy cold, with a clear blue sky and snow on the ground. A day he would have enjoyed immensely. He liked the cold. Wilted in the heat.
I'm not mourning today. I'm happy. Even when I am missing him, I know that I will one day see Papa again. I do not mourn as those who have no hope, but look forward to the happiest reunion of all.
There is much I don't know about heaven…like will we really ask God all those questions we've always wanted to ask Him? Will we really be chatting with the people we've read about in the Bible? Or will we just be at Jesus' feet, singing "holy, holy, holy" and being completely overwhelmed by His presence?
I guess today is really my papa's 12th birth day. The day he started his real life. Moved out of the shadowlands and into reality.