There are those in our lives whom God uses to shape us. Many influence a few, some affect the lives of many, but few have an impact on the masses. My dad was this man.
Dad’s compassion and love for family, friends and the lost was magnified in recent years. The last 6 months have been a true gift and the desire of our hearts. We have said, “I love you!” perhaps more during these months than all of my 38 years. For this I will be eternally grateful. I promised both he and Kim that I would have no regrets when it came time to remembering. Many of you know the amazing medical miracle of dad’s life. For those who don’t, please allow me to share.
Dad loved the land. I am so much like him! The smell of fresh dirt is one of my all time favorites, I’m certain it was his! In 1993, while replacing a bearing on his combine, a sliver of steel pierced his left eye. At least five reconstructive and experimental surgeries later, dad was left with partial vision, but legally blind in that eye. Think for a moment if you will of a grain of sand under an eyelid. . . Dad’s stitches from each surgery at Duke Eye Center, cut literal grooves with each movement of the eye. I have never seen such humility expressed, nor developed in another.
In 1996, dad underwent bypass surgery and a survived a stroke during his recovery. I’ll never forget him lying in bed recovering as Hurricane Fran dropped a large Pine Tree through the roof just over his head. He knew something had happened, but had no strength to check it out. He re-learned many skills in the next months, but from that point forward offered his left hand in greeting. Late 1998 brought about the introduction of a new miracle drug for maintaining cholesterol, Baycol. Little did he know what path he was on.
August of 2001, mom ended up in the hospital as a result of a staff infection. Dad, had just settled into a new “home away from home” with Barnhill construction some hours away. While visiting mom in the hospital, he showed Kim a uniquely “black” leg! Over the course of the next week, both he and Mom shared matching ICU beds. Dad in Surgical Trauma, Mom in Medical ICU. Following a Fasciotomy of his leg, dad spent the next 6 months recovering. Learning to walk again and, well surviving! Baycol had allowed countless Enbolisms to form throughout his vascular system. Over the coming years, dad became a bionic man! Nearly every inch of his arterial system from his aorta to the calves was replaced. He had no original veins returning blood to his heart. All of this was done by capillary action. Most of these small time bombs were removed or bypassed, but he was left with the medical certainty that one could rupture at any time.
Time became precious!
Early this year, we traveled to Kentucky on a Disaster Recovery trip. I was allowed a chilling and humbling glimpse of these days just weeks before Dad’s stroke in February of this year. I knew then that time was precious and vowed to waste none! Less than a month later we found ourselves in the ER with the initial medical interpretation offering a grim picture. I knew that instant that God had allowed me a peek behind the veil. A chance to prepare for what He would do next through Dad.
Six months almost to the day, dad walked the halls of the same hospital with me as he visited his dear friend Dwayne and offered words of wisdom and love to a young friend, John Loyd as he and his wife prepared for an imminent deployment to Afghanistan. As we walked and talked, I had such a sweet and peaceful, yet building sense of excitement! God had done such awe inspiring things in Dad’s life. He became a living example of the fact that we are both fearfully and wonderfully made.
I don’t feel cheated, rather blessed! Few are afforded such memorable and Living examples of God’s grace, love and provision. There were several times that dad struggled with the choice to stay here or go home. He was so ready! Often we found ourselves selfishly pleading for him to come home with us. To stay Here. One Friday afternoon about 4 weeks after the stroke, I was blessed with being at his side, he in my arms, as he fought to return. He spent these past months straddling two worlds. Each holding such dear love and such passionate pleas for his presence. I know dad had glimpsed where he was headed, yet knew what he would leave behind.
The incredible fact which is ours, is this eternal hope we hold so dear in Christ Jesus. This is not the end! This is just the prep work which God uses to launch us into the life we each were created to live out! A life worshipping our Amazing Creator and God. I was reminded this week by a friend of Paul’s mantra in Philippians 1:29, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”
This is why Dad lived. This is why he now lives! I can never express the gratitude I have for such an inspiring father who has truly taught me what matters-Love for God, love for Family, and love for those whom God entrusts to us.
Excerpt from “Man and Superman”
by George Bernard Shaw
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I can live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.