When most of us turn 50, we are not suprised to see grey hairs sprouting out, have more trouble getting up off of the floor, or be added to the AARP mailing list (I was not impressed with this one). What I was not expecting was losing my father. He passed away on November 16th after a lengthy illness and my heart will never be the same.
During the weeks that followed, my husband was a huge source of support. One day when the grief was especially painful, Dave reminded me that as hard as it was to lose him, I had 50 years with him. This changed my perspective dramatically.
For 50 years, I had the most wonderful father I could ask for, a father that always took care of me and my sisters and molded us into what we are today. Some of the most wonderful qualities that I see in my sisters and myself are from him. I have so many wonderful memories that far outweigh the troubling times. Memories of camping, fishing, hunting, archery tournaments, watching Clint Eastwood westerns, goofing off around the house, going on vacation to Arizona and California and driving to many places throughout Montana.
There is so much I want to share but that would make this into a novel-sized blog post. Over the past few months, some memories have been more vivid than others. One memory is when my husband and I got married in 1992. My parents and my youngest sister drove up to Rapid City. At the ceremony, Dad looked so handsome in his Army uniform. As we were getting ready to walk down the aisle, I couldn’t move. I looked down and saw that he was standing on my dress! We both had a good laugh before Dad proceeded to walk me down the aisle to give me away to my future husband.
Another memory is from years before when I was a little girl. I decided one day that I was going to help with the laundry. I threw random clothes into the washer and a good portion of them were Dad’s. I let the water run in, threw in some detergent and grabbed the bleach, which I proceeded to pour directly into the wash. When Mom noticed what I was doing, it was too late. Dad’s jeans and some of his favorite button up shirts were covered with white spots. Needless to say, he was pretty angry! Strangely, I do not remember being punished, but seeing the disappointment on Dad’s face when he saw his clothes was punishment enough.
When Dad came to our house to visit during the later years, my husband nicknamed him “Hurricane John”. He would bring his things in and randomly set them all over the house as he walked in. Dad was always an early riser and he made no exceptions when he was away from home. He would wake up not too long after me (I inherited the same quality of getting up early) and he would talk like it was the middle of the day. We would sit at the table with our bibles and talk before I started getting my boys up. I am so blessed to have had those morning chats with Dad.
After I developed a chronic health condition in 2017, I was unable to travel the 109 miles to see my parents. A few months before Dad passed away, I was able to make the drive! I was able to visit with Dad for a few hours that trip and I was also able to make another trip less than a month later. I bent down and hugged him before I left that last time and it was the first time he didn’t get up from his chair to hug me. After he passed away, I had brief feelings of anger at not being able to see him as much while I was unable to drive down. I quickly replaced those feeling with gratefulness. The Lord’s timing is perfect and he healed me enough to be able to see him before he left us.
These memories, along with countless others, will give me comfort when I feel the loss in my aching heart. Those of us who are blessed to have known Dad and loved him will never stop noticing the hole in the world that symbolizes his passing, but the memories, oh the sweet memories, will make us smile.