Four years ago today, after one last “I love you,” to my Mom, Dad left a hospital bed in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and headed Home. He had fought for about 5 years against cancer and all that went along with it, but finally let go on April 23, 2009. (To see some of the things that I’ve learned from my Dad, see my earlier post.)
Even though Dad spent years as a pastor, he wasn’t one to talk much. He usually reserved his words for the right moment. His thought was, “Better to be silent and have people think you’re a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.” So when I would call my parents in Newfoundland, I would chat with my mother (which is not a challenge at all), but then she would ask if I wanted to speak to Dad. I would say yes, but often it was hard to think of things to say that we would have in common. He was always interested how the weather was in Ottawa, whether I was still driving that old Subaru, and if I really should have that thing on the road in that weather. Talking on the phone was not his thing, and neither was idle conversation.
I used to find it hard sometimes to talk to him on the phone, even though I loved him a lot. He was the best Dad ever. Hands down. But talking to him on the phone was difficult sometimes. He would chat for a few minutes and then say, “Here’s your mother.”
Funny, today I would have a million things to say to my Dad.
I would have told him that he was the best Dad ever. Every time. I would show him pictures of the kids and tell him all the funny things they did. I would talk about Jesus more. I would get his opinion on every option for every car that I might ever consider. I would tell him about our new house and the neighborhood we live in. I would talk about work and get advice on every decision. I would tell him how cute Dan’s little baby girl turned out to be. I would thank him for all the times he lent me his car. I would tell him that the only reason I have a good husband is because I had a high standard set for me. I would tell him that I love him every day, no matter what. I would tell him that everything worked out for me after all.
I know what he would do. He’d give his advice, but not a whole lot more fluff. He would say enough so that I knew he was there for me and that if the world fell apart, I can always come live there.
I don’t wish him back here. This place is pretty stinky in comparison. I would rather him be where he is than suffering for another minute. So, in honor of everything that my Dad showed me about resilience, I am choosing to move forward in life without him. “Life is for the living,” is what I always say. God had some reason beyond what I understand, and he was not meant to be here for this time. I am thankful that he is not a person who lives on in memory and legacy, but that he lives on in a new Home. One day I will see him again, and he’ll have an eternity to sit down and hear the million things I have to say.