I am sitting at the foot of my dad's bed in the Hospice Unit at Baptist Hospital in Columbia, SC. He is nearing the end of his life. I know he is comfortable and ready to go because he has told me so. Watching him slip away is both excruciatingly painful and beautiful. He has talked of beautiful trees, a moat surrounding the most beautiful place he has ever seen and a large table with many chairs. We are at peace. The sound of the humidified oxygen reminds me of the sound of a babbling brook. The football game is on the TV and we try to distract ourselves from the sound of his breathing. I have time to be still and remember.
Here, in no particular order, are just a few of the things my dad has taught me:
If you want to catch fish, you have to use worms and you have to bait your own hook.
When cooking, always clean up as you go.
When playing Boggle, making up words is allowed as long as you snicker while you write them down. If you are lucky one of them will be a real word.
It is OK to eat your Nana's cream puffs for breakfast.
Patience is a virtue especially when teaching teenagers to drive or when taking them to pick out a Christmas tree.
God is good all the time.
Say you're sorry and mean it.
Let go of wrongs.
Forgive and forget. (Yes I know those were similar but they were worth repeating)
God always answers prayers but not always the way we expect.
Always do your best.
Never put off saying I love you.
Treat others the way you would like to be treated, especially when it is difficult.
Even grown men like to play with tractors.
When faced with a broken bike, it is a good idea to take it to a bike shop for repairs.
Pay attention to the details.
Dog names are reusable.
If you can't say something nice, be quiet.
Good people come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.
Doing the right thing may not be easy, and no one may notice, but do it anyway.
And finally the one that seems most appropriate on a day like today:
At the end of even the worst day there is always something to be grateful for.
Thank you God for this gracious and loving man you chose to be my father.