This is one of those posts that I really wish I didn't have to write. Sunday, March 22 marks the day that 3 years ago my dad died. In many ways it seems like it was just yesterday, yet so much has changed in that 3 years it's almost hard to believe. The 22nd was the end of the journey, a short one that my entire family never imagined we'd endure...don't we always think it will happen to someone else? It is strange that 3 years later I can still vividly remember so many details of the days and nights that followed the phone call I received the morning of the 17th. My dad had gone into cardiac arrest while at work and was taken to Holland Hospital. While at first it seemed that following a simple stent procedure all would be fine, hours later the truth in God's plan began to reveal itself. At 55 my dad would never again open his deep blue eyes or speak to us, he had simply gone too long without sufficient oxygen. Those 5 days of waiting in the hospital were torture and therapy all at the same time. We watched and waited by his bedside knowing the end of his Earthly life would soon come to a close, and with friends and family near us we said our good-byes and talked about the many love able quirks of my dad. Only fitting that a man who didn't like attention and fanfare would slip away from us at 1:30 am while all of us kids slept in a nearby waiting room and my mom stopped listening for the sounds of his breath just long enough to use the bathroom.
Only 2 days earlier I had stayed for dinner at my parents and my dad carried Jenna to the car, as always, saying good-bye to his "punkin" (how it's spelled is how he pronounced it) and "see ya Wen". I don't even know if I can remember the last time I ever heard my dad say my full name. He loved being a grandpa and was always eager to have Jenna over. He was certain that over her 7 1/2 months of life he had taught her several things from holding her bottle to eating her first french fries :-). That night my mom took what would be the last picture of my dad, kneeling behind her playing along on her activity table.
The pictures etched in my mind of him in the hospital will unfortunately never fade, but neither will the ones of all the other wonderful times we had. I now realize the most important lesson I ever learned from my dad came from simply watching the way he lived. He didn't need "things" in life to be happy, or to prove his worth to people. All he needed was people to talk to or something to tinker with and fix and he was content. Content that God had blessed him with a job, a home and his family. He loved listening to other people talk about their life experiences and had a heart of gold when it came to helping people out with home repairs and projects. He didn't wear his faith on his sleeve but he never needed to for me to see that he exemplified Christ love with his actions and deeds.
It's not that today is really that significant to me, other than a date on the calendar. There are many other times where I think of the empty spot that will only be filled when I see him again in Heaven. Jenna has heard plenty of grandpa stories and sometimes out of nowhere she'll tell you that her grandpa is in Heaven. I wish he were here to share in her life as he so loved to do. I missed him when I walked down the aisle even though my brother was a great stand in and I'll miss him when the baby arrives in August. It's funny at times how it can be the most insignificant moments that you miss someone...driving past a restaurant, hearing someone with a similar voice, a song, sometimes just an ahha moment where you know exactly what you're dad would be saying if he were standing there. I'm not angry at God for taking my dad, He has a greater plan even if 3 years later I still don't completely understand, but don't think it can't be you in my shoes. If you still have your dad make sure he knows you love him. If you are a dad, teach your children the lessons in life that you want to last beyond your last breath, they will matter more than anything else you can give them in your lifetime!
Love you Dad!