This word is dedicated to my father in law, Patrick.
On January 10, 2017 my father in law lost his battle to liver cancer. His story stands so strong to me and touches my soul deeply. My husband growing up didn’t have the relationship as you would think you have with a father.
“I, like, any son, would like to remember the very best of my father. But, like all of us, he wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t a legendary war hero, a famous surgeon, or millionaire. He wasn’t Bruce Lee or the Mighty Thor, even though he tried to be. However, he was my father and I have always loved him, regardless of what or who he was known for.”
The very first moment we met was at the bus station. The day we picked him up after being released from prison. This was definitely a shock to me what happens to those being released. They drop you off and if lucky you have family members there and if not, you’re left alone to try and restart life the best you can. It was a beautiful and emotional day, because I saw how happy my husband was to physically hug his own dad. It was also the day he met his first grandson. To me, it was a new chapter of our lives that God had intended to make it the best two years that I got to know him… as my other dad.
To me, my heart did break for what he had to live through. But what I got to learn was more about his story and how he found Christ while being in prison. He would mention the relationship and connection he had with God that showed him something beyond power of change but trusting Him fully in his path of life. I simply felt it was so unfair how he had to live life in prison knowing he served his time and then months after finding out his cancer. It wasn’t even a year into his release. I would think that it wasn’t suppose to be this way and it wasn’t enough time for us to know each other or amend his relationship with his own children. But we did, we all did. We began to understand that God planned these two years to make it the best we could. Although, countless moments of stating “he has so and so months to live”, God continued to let him live longer until January 10, 2017. I felt the Holy spirit remained in their lives during his time in prison with letters and visits. Also, the time he was released for the last two years was a time to physically be together, to show a love of God’s work. It was a spiritual power they held as his children and within my father in law to showcase God’s love and healing through the lost time, pain, and void.
My father in law trusted God with his life and no matter the restrictions from his parole officer, where he had to live, and fighting cancer, he remained strong. Without any complaints, he kept himself in good spirits with God, that he continued to always remain strong for himself and his family. He got to enjoy every moment with his grandchildren. The day my daughter was born, he was the first to visit with a box of krispy kreme donuts. The moment he held her, I remember the smile on his face and the first instant love he had for her. Since then, he was able to watch and enjoy the moments with them through laughter, love and time. Although, my husband didn’t get that father bond when he was younger, it was the valuable times they did have and their spiritual bond that I got to witness. This here is part of a eulogy message that he shared with his family and what best describes my word.
“I remember as a 9 year old boy, falling in love with Baseball. This was the first sport that I truly enjoyed playing, not because it involved throwing and catching a ball, running, and hitting. But because of the time I spent playing with my dad. That time we had seems so long ago, and so short. And it makes me value it that much more now that he is no longer physically here. My relationship with him can be summed up in one word, Spiritual. My father and I spent some time a part from one another when I was younger. However, in the midst of the physical separation, I always felt close to him, I felt he was very near to me. I guess what I am trying to say is that, I haven’t based our relationship on how many days I spent with him, I’ve based it on being grateful for every moment that God allowed us to be together. Whether it was a phone call, letters we wrote to each other, the hospital where my daughter was born, fishing, nights we drank whiskey watching sports, but most of all the conversations about God, our faith and our prayers. These last few years I saw a major difference in the man I knew as a child and the man that he was in his final moments. He was redeemed and humbled. Not selfish or prideful. I believe my father would want us all to remember the special memories each of you had with him. He would want to remind us to be strong like he was. To always fight on, and never ever give up or lose hope in one another. We all witnessed how hard he fought not only throughout his life, but in his last days with us. He would want you to know that he is no longer in pain, the battle was won and that his final smirk and smile he left us with was because he was finally reunited with Papa and in the presence of God.
Today may be a difficult day, but in every difficult time, something amazing can and will come out from it. And so these are my final words to you dad.
I want to thank you for caring for me, for loving my wife, my son and my daughter. I will miss the smiles and laughter you brought to my children’s faces and how they made you light up. I will miss seeing you and the uncles, aunts and mama all crack jokes at each other and listening to your one of a kind laugh. And I will miss the warmth of your protecting embrace. I know I spent too long blaming you for all the things I thought went wrong in my life. I have realized if I was going to blame you for the bad things in my life, I needed to blame you for everything that is beautiful in my life. So thank you for playing the tough role God intended you to play. If it weren’t for our relationship, I wouldn’t be half the man I am today, I wouldn’t love and care for my loved ones the way I do if it were not for you. For I am not your judge, God is. And I know that before you died, you gave your life to Him. We all have hope in our faith, that one-day we will all be together again. And you will be the face we see when God says it’s time to go home.
We miss you dearly, but are so grateful to have been able to call you our uncle, our brother, husband, son, papa and our father. I love you and I will see you again.”
He may be physically gone in our lives but his spirit lives through us. The conversations, the memories and the time we did spend will always be remembered of the great man he was and the true footprint he left in our hearts, and most especially in mine.
Is there something in your life that keeps you spiritually living? Is there a loss you had and do you feel their spirits are there? Believe that this spirit will never die, it will always remain true in your soul.