The 16th of March. The day we turned the ventilator off and his chest stopped compressing. It’s my dad’s official “heavenly birthday”. I’ve always wondered if he actually died on the 13th, when his chaotic heart rhythm halted to a stop and he slumped over lifeless in his breakfast plate. While medical technology can shock back into existence a beating heart and machines can make the chest rise and fall, they can’t induce brain waves or breathe words and hugs back into the human shell. Around his bedside, we sang him up to heaven—The Old Rugged Cross, It is Well with my Soul, Great is thy Faithfulness. Those were beautiful, terrible holy moments.
And I reflect on the ashes on my forehead less that two weeks ago and the Words that remind me “from dust we came and to dust we will return”.
Having experienced firsthand the exhilarating thrill of new birth and been laid low by the heavy hand of death, the cycle of life can only be described as a mysterious paradox.
Today we celebrate my dad’s sweet life intertwined with ours and his transition to life eternal. It is our tradition each year to cook a special meal and eat mountainous bowls of ice cream in his memory. We watch him on a home movie filmed at his 77th birthday party. His glasses partway down his nose and his deep voice sharing his story of rescue, he tells how God reached out and offered His hand, His heart, Himself and he accepted. Then we recount the ways “Grampsy” enriched our lives. Starla has no memories, just a picture of the two of them, his arms wrapped lovingly around her tiny body, smiling. Robyn recalls his generosity. Lily muses fondly about playing hide and seek with him and his 3 predictable hiding places—behind the door, in the bathtub, and under the bed. Angela appreciates that he spoke a blessing on her regularly in the words “I’m proud of you”. Indeed he was. Brian reminds us of all those yummy treats.–never empty handed. And I reflect on his prayers, day after day lying in bed for hours taking the names of every person he knew and lifting them into the Father’s care.
I miss his prayer covering most. It is my inheritance.
And I remember this Lenten season that I received a legacy and I am leaving a legacy. That I had a father and I have a Father. That life is a gift and in Every Season, including the Lenten season, He is making me new.