A good friend of ours lost his father earlier this week after a rampant infection finally took his life – several weeks after a surgical procedure. The visitation was this evening and the funeral will be in the morning – marking the end of a life well lived.
I couldn’t help but be reminded that it was 38 years ago today that my father passed away from cancer – and at the time, I thought that it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. I wasn’t wrong. I had lost my maternal grandmother and grandfather, as well as my Dad’s father, but I was ill prepared for my own father to pass away – even after a four year fight with what turned out to be a terminal cancer.
I remember being numb – arriving at the hospital a few minutes after he died, although to this moment I can vividly recall the exact time I turned to Janet in the car on the expressway and remarked that my father had just died… It was surreal… absolutely knowing as surely as if I had been there that his life was over…
The next few days were a whirlwind; making plans, holding the visitation and finally the funeral on Monday morning, June 5, 1978. And while I remember the way I felt that day, there are times that I realize that I am forgetting the sound of Dad’s voice and I wonder what it would be like for him to still be living. After all, Janet’s folks lived until 2013 and it was wonderful to see how they watched their daughters grow older with them. In fact, Janet’s father was like a second father to me – especially after my own Dad died.
I am told by those who knew both of us that I laugh like my father – although he had a far better sense of wonder and joviality in his life than I do. I think I am a little less free spirited than Dad. But how I wish he had been able to be a part of my life this last 38 years. I wonder if he would have been proud of the man that I have turned into. And he would have loved to have been involved in the business. I know he would enjoy my clients and developing relationships with them. And on the personal side, I am sure that he would have enjoyed watching his grandchildren grow up. Kristin was three years old and Jill was five months old when Dad passed away. Andrew was three years away from even being born, so Dad never met him.
Yet Andrew is playing the role with me that I filled with my Dad – learning the business and helping out in any way possible. It’s like deja vu – only the roles have changed. First I was the student with my father and now I am the teacher with our son. That would have been unimaginable back in 1978.
Our verse for this evening is from the apostle Paul, the author of Ephesians, the most spiritually mature church that Paul continued to minister to. We are told, Ephesians 6:1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” My encouragement this evening is that it is important to God that we honor and remember our parents, regardless of whether they are with us or not. My prayer is that, just as the past generations were important to the Jewish culture, you will teach your children about the generations that have passed away. And if by chance your folks are still living, that you recognize what a treasure you have each day. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…