Thursday, December 25, 2008

Good-bye, Dad

This afternoon, on this bright and mild Christmas day, my father left this world behind and went to be with the Lord. While he was struggling with ever-increasing weakness in his limbs, his heart continued to beat strongly, giving us no indication that the end was so near. Then on Tuesday evening, sudden and severe pain had my sister dialing 911. He was rushed to the hospital and in 48 hours was dead from a blood clot in his lung. Losing him so quickly and in the midst of holiday celebrations has been numbing. I miss him already.

My dad was a wonderful man, a good husband, and one terrific dad. He had a great laugh. One of my favorite childhood memories is of each night when he would come home from work and open the Hartford Times to the funnies and roar right out loud at the jokes. He loved to laugh. You could tell him the same story over and over, and he would still laugh heartily over the punch line.

Our little family went on a vacation every year. We didn’t have too many where things didn’t go wrong at some time or another. At night, we would lay in bed, roaring at our misery. The more miserable we were, the harder we laughed. In retrospect, my best vacation memories are of the worst vacations. Like when we went camping at Virginia Beach and it did nothing but rain the entire time. Two years in a row.

One thing my family taught me was that laughter can get you through a whole lot. I will miss laughing with my dad.

I have many fond memories of spending time with my dad from my younger days. We sailed together, mostly on Bolton Lake, but down at the Connecticut shoreline as well. Every year he took me along to help him shop for my mom’s Christmas present. I loved singing next to him in church, him belting out the bass line while I sang alto. (Dad taught me how to sing parts from a hymn book when I was in fifth grade.) He taught me to ride a bike, plant a garden, and how to wash dishes. We shared a love for music; when I heard a good piece of music I could hardly wait to get home to share it with him. We had great talks about the Lord. His firm conviction in his salvation and the presence of God in our lives was a great influence on me.

Dad was a giver. When my mom died, there were quite a few people that came to me with stories of how my dad sent money to them when it was needed. He was always ready to lend a helping hand or some good advice. He felt responsible for those people he knew. And even for those he didn’t.

One rainy afternoon, as he crept along in traffic on route 84 west, he spotted the reason for the backup. A lady was on the median with a blown out tire. He stopped and changed it for her. Her spare was also flat. So he told her to drive slowly off the highway, and he would follow her to the nearest gas station. The grateful husband called dad the next day and offered to send he and mom out to dinner (he looked Dad up because of the ZINE license plate). My dad was only embarrassed to be recognized for his good deed.

Dad was a happy man. I’ve never known someone to be more content than him. He enjoyed a good meal and always remembered to compliment the cook. We used to sit on the front porch together on summer evenings, enjoying the sunset or watching an approaching storm. He noticed things in nature and enjoyed them. Dad taught me how to smell the roses. Even in his last months, when he was basically bedridden, he told me, “You know, as discouraging as my condition gets, I have never been in pain. I’m so grateful for that.” He was not a complainer.

I am a lucky girl to have had such a great dad. The world is a sadder place without him. But while I grieve my loss, I know he is in a better place. He saw my mom today after a nine year separation. I have been imagining their reunion all day-- how joyful it all must have been. To picture him finally face to face with Jesus, the Lord he loved, brings tears to my eyes. This is not good-bye forever. I will see him again.

“Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful and such a loving tribute.
So many of those characteristics you mentioned in you Dad, I have seen in you.
So your life is a living tribute to him.
We are praying for you.
love,
Cindy and Todd

Anonymous said...

Dear Julie,

That was a heart felt tribute - I am so sorry for the loss of your father, but reading about being forever with the Father and reuniting with his wife brought tears to my eyes, tears of joy. I know you will miss him, but as you so appropraitely put it, this is not the end. I am praying for you.

Love,
Wendy

Anonymous said...

Julie please accept my condolences in the passing of your dad. I pray that God continually comforts you and your family during this time.

Love,
Roxane Johnson

lady83 said...

Julie, we loved your tribute to your Dad, our brother, and some of the
things you mentioned brought back memories for us as well. How blessed we are, knowing he is with the Lord in Glory, and being with Roberta again. We too will join them someday.
Aunt Alice and Uncle Everett

Anonymous said...

Julie, what a nice tribute to your Dad. You are a very blessed woman to have such wonderful memories.
Love, Kateri<><

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being so open and sharing your thoughts and feelings about your Dad in such descriptive detail. One of the main things I remember about him over the years is the hearty laugh. His responses had a way of making you feel your conversation was the funniest, most interesting thing he ever heard and every individual was important to him. You and Margie are fortunate, indeed to have grown up with such loving, happy parents. Their legacy lives on in their 8 remarkable grandchildren and now, 2 special great-grands. Ruth Soehlman

Cindy said...

Dear Julie,
You are in our prayers. May God's love and comfort surround you and your family.
Your tribute is such an honor to your father. What a blessing he must have been to everyone. You carry his life with you each day with your wonderful spirt and as you serve our Lord and inspire others.
Cindy and Bruce

Helen said...

Julie-
Thank you for sharing your stories of your dad. We always enjoyed our Uncle John's sense of humor as well. You know what they say about the apple not falling far from the tree. When you and Margie get together, the stories and the laughter never seem to stop.
Love,
Helen

Ruth said...

I remember one funny letter your Dad wrote telling about your parents' trip to Vegas. It hadn't rained there in something like 5 years and the week they were there it rained so hard there were flood warnings. He wrote about seeing a cactus float by. He had the craziest spelling....lots of phonetic interpretations....and the letters were so much fun to read. When he got a home PC and started using spell check it wasn't quite the same.

Anonymous said...

I was sorry to hear about your dad. You have some wonderful memories. He would be proud of your tribute. Love, Marge Stearns

Zoe said...

Julie,
Oh my what a beautiful tribute to your daddy!! I share in your grief as my dad went to be with the Lord this summer. Please know I continue to pray for you as you rejoice in his gain and your temporary separation.
Zoe

Van said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you as you grieve the loss of your dad. Yet we can celebrate having had the experience of a loving daddy in your life.

Susan said...

Dear Julie,
I met you at the Ladies' tea in PA, (I am the one with the big family who went to WBC with Steve)I lost my Dad in August so your tribute brought tears to my eyes. How blessed we were to have had Dads who loved Jesus and us and who will be there when we step on shore.
Love,
Susan

Julie said...

Dear Julie,
My heart goes out to you and your family during this time. What a touching tribute. Your writtings truly help us all - in times of joy and sorrow.

Thank you for allowing us to watch your journey with God.

Julie (with Majesty)

Renee said...

Hi,

Thanks for posting the comment on my blog. I did include the words struggle, strive, fight in my devotion. I write as God inspires me through His word. I am not a seminary student, I am a woman who also loves the Lord and God has put me in some very different and uncomfortable places over the past two years. Prison ministry is one, where I see women who have fallen prey to the enemy of their souls. We must be women who contend at Jesus' side, through prayer, His word, and in being His hands an feet. My prayer was not one of comfort, but of moving forward in 2009 with a "military" determination to serve Him faithfully and fully, whereever HE leads me. That includes my home, church, community, nation and world.

Contending,
Renee

Anonymous said...

Julie,
Besides all his Parchessi games with us your dad was instrumental in my salvation Remember Happy Hour at your church? The night we heard the chalk talk he sensed that we had wanted to go up front but we were nervous and he told us in the car that we could accept Christ in our rooms at home - and that is what I did! I thank him and you for my Camp Berea experience - when we rededicated our lives to the Lord when I was 14 and you were 15.

Stopping on the way home from church for an ice cream cone from Howard Johnson's, Elizabeth Park, hours of enjoyment playing croquet and swimmingand the delicious corn roasts. These are a few of my favorite things!

Alan and I also appreciated his words of encouragement when Alan was in seminary. One time when we were returning from visiting family our muffler fell off and I wondered how in the world we could ever get it fixed. Well, there waiting for us when we got home was a letter from your dad with a check in it. So he knew our need even before we did.

Like you I remember his laugh! Thanks for sharing him - God bless you and Margie.

Chris Brown Patz

Anonymous said...

Hey Julie!
I was just coasting thru your blog pages and came upon this one that I had not read before. Even though it's 3 months later, I need to comment on it. It is very encouraging to see what you wrote about Johnney in your time of grief. John sure was a happy guy and I too remember his hearty laugh. Many times when I thought I said something serious, he and your Mom just laughed and laughed and turned my mood around. I love them both and they're up in heaven now and probably enjoying some really good laughs with Uncle Benny and and Uncle Lawson and Grandma as well. You brought tears to my eyes with this blog but also a feeling of thankfulness that our family have had so many fun times together and they are good memories. Keep on blogging like this -- God is using you in a mighty way. I've sent many of my friends to your site and they all feel that you are unique in presenting the truths of God's word, and they are blessed by it.
God bless you as you continue to serve Him in your life.
With love from
Aunt Fay

Tamara said...

Dear Julie,
Hello from spain!
My name is Tamara and I'm 25years old...I lost my dad last 28 of february!
I always thought that something like this woud never hapen to me...
My dad was a lovely person, Treated always people like what each wanted to be treated (sorry for my english is not very good) he was the father that u always wanted to have, friend of hes friends and the best boss than u coud ever imagine...
He was working hard since he ws 13... an when he retired at hes 64, went to have a medical test and he had cancer...... and nearly 2 years after, he just passed to a better life (or that is what I want to think)
Life is so cruel! I can't believe it yet... he was the person that always was telling me how to do things right, I coud never be anoyed with him, he was always telling jokes and making me laugh... and sometimes I wish to sit next to him and talk about my worries like we used to, with a lovely cup of tea (of course made by me, he always said that i did the best tea in the world ^^) ooooooooooo miss him so much! every day is something new that comes to my head, reminding me them gorgeous moments by hes side! Im always gonna be upset with the world and disapointed with the life, and every day I've got more clear that he left me when I more needed him!
C if u coud help me... I woud like to tattoo a frase on hes memorie, but I just can't make it sound god.... If u coud give me a hand! thanx verymuch for your little time! take care!