Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dear Ole Dad!


The photo on the calendar depicted a church lawn decorated with the nativity scene while snowflakes floated through the quiet darkness and fell silently to the ground. This precious scene had caused many to pause and gaze at the sweet baby's face in wonder, and thankfulness for the God who so loved the world that He sent His Son... 
My Dad with his Mother
Yet, 90 years ago, in a humble bedroom, a young mother's eyes were gazing into the precious face of her newborn son and the fulfillment for the desire of her own heart. Little thought was given to the holiday or the other baby, for that Christmas eve found its own celebration of joy in the heart of this young mother and her husband sitting nearby. The longings of their hearts were all wrapped in the blue flannelled bundle cuddled in her arms, and she felt repair in the beginnings of mending the sorrowful wounds of past miscarriages.
The little boy baby had dark blue eyes with one small quarter of his left eye sparkled in brown hues. His chubby cheeks dimpled in contentment, a small sigh escaped the tiny mouth as he snuggled contentedly in those loving arms.

Catie & Meghan visit Gramps
The years have passed quickly and two new generations have begun their stories, yet beside my overstuffed recliner rests that same face, cuddled deeply in a blue flannelled blanket on a Home-Care hospital bed. I hear a contented sigh escape the sleepy opened mouth of my dear elderly dad, and then, a soft groan as his eyes open, look around and focus on me. I lovingly look into the deep blue eyes of his occasional glance upon my face, and I'm reminded of that night long ago when he held his mother’s heart tightly within that gaze. The scene on the calendar is still the same, marking almost a century, yet still celebrating the oncoming birthday holiday. Again, the snowflakes are softly drifting to the whitened ground outside the darkened window, but there are some vivid changes upon his countenance.

Wrinkles have replaced the dimpled chubby cheeks and worry lines outline his strong features. He no longer innocently looks at the world he entered and the sweet ignorance of infant life has been overshadowed by many experiences. 
Through our many long conversations, he has retold stories of good times, the romping through farmlands, attempted studies and successful times of ministry as a pastor, yet he has always stopped short of retelling shuddering moments of fear and war. Each memory lines his life with innumerable blessings from God, an awesomeness of being loved by his Creator, and so protected until that time when he would come to know his God personally through the Savior.

Dad resting
In these lingering winter days, there are many good moments of sunshine and hope, but often, it is his life's memories that are gently carrying his dreams through his labored breathing, the nudges of pain, and the ticking of my mantle clock.  Names of many life-long friends and disciples from his life of godly commitment are welcomed into his mind and soft spoken prayers are still heard as he raises their names to his Lord, praying especially for those still struggling to know the Truth or experience the life of righteousness through Jesus Christ.
More and more hours are spent in a deep sleep with vivid dreams that do not leave him rested. His old bones creak and crack with movement causing groans to escape where the contented sigh once was. Occasionally he mumbles little memories in his wakeful moments, gentle tears water his aged eyes, or praise for His Savior flow from his pale, dry lips.

We both know in the quietness of the moments, without spoken words, that this life is reaching the end.
His departure will soon come and there is no dread. He knows the King, accepted His blood sacrificed for his sins, and claimed the promise of life eternal. Now, with bright hope for this future, he longs to join his mother, father, and beloved wife who are waiting for him close to his precious Savior.

Just now, as I type this letter at my Dad's bedside, he quietly whispers for me to add praise to his awesome God and Savior for such a blessed life, mention his love for friends and family, and mostly, remember to encourage you to stay strong in your faith in Jesus Christ. His unyielding desire is to join you in the clouds of glory!

PS Open House Birthday Celebration saw about 56 people around his bedside during the intervals of the day. A table spread of Snacks and Finger foods with Mocha Punch or Fruit Punch made a pretty scene across the room from his bed. Thank you for all the cards and visits! It made his day with nice memory reminders of many friends!