The following are the words I spoke at my Dad’s funeral last Saturday. I struggled whether or not to post this, but ultimately I think he’d want me to as it tells his story and gives glory to God.
Thank you for being here. Some of you may not know my dad but you’re here because you are a friend of the family. We appreciate your support.
If you know me you know my relationship with my dad was a tricky one. We both could talk to anyone on the planet but struggled to talk to each other.
Then Wednesday morning I believe I got a word from the Lord. And that is that my dad wanted a deeper relationship with me. If he’d known how. But my dad was an only child and his father deserted him at a young age. Then my dad quit high school as a sophomore and joined the Navy. What did he know about being a father? Yet he and my mother had 4 kids, 7 grandkids and 4 great grandkids. And He and my mom were married 59 years and exactly one month.
So Wednesday after Hospice had told us that dad had hours or days remaining, I wanted to stay with him that night. I felt compelled. So after my sister left I was the only one with him. His breathing was very shallow. For 30 minutes I sat beside him and had the best talk of my life with him. Even though he wasn’t cognizant the nurses said he could hear so I’ll assume he was listening. It was the kind of conversation I enjoyed. One where I was talking without interruption.
I told him that he was a good father and I know he did all he knew to do with me. That he loved me and I love him. And that I realize that he wasn’t totally responsible for the nature of our relationship. I could have tried harder and not been so closed off to him. I shared with him moments in which he shaped me like when I was a young teenager and his mother couldn’t care for herself any longer and he and my mom brought her into our home to live with dignity the last year of her life. Or when my oldest sister and her 2 young sons needed a place to live and he made room for them in our house for several years and I saw how he helped raise my nephews. I remembered the times he took me fishing either at Lake Lee or the beach and I had to be frustrating. I wasn’t a good fisherman then or now and he probably spent most of his time untangling my line.
And he could never say no to me. When I was in high school he owned a little country store and he had a poker machine in it. He’d pay out to the winners. I would use his quarters from the cash register and play the game while I was minding the store. Once I ran the score up to $250 on his quarters and insisted that he pay me and he did. I told him in our talk that I may have been a spoiled brat but part of that was on him.
Then there was the time I almost dropped out of college and needed his signature on the withdrawal form. I could hear the disappointment in his voice. He didn’t lecture me. He just said he wished I wouldn’t and I didn’t. That moment was a watershed event for me and I have him to thank. And there were times I needed help and he was always there for me. And as he got older he always encouraged me to help our family as they needed it. I think if there was one thing that my father never fully understood was the influence he had on people. But over the past few days as his family has drawn close together, I could definitely see it and feel it and I think he sees it now and is smiling.
Then I said my last words and quite literally at the same moment he took a big breath. It alarmed me and I got the nurse. She came in and he took 2 more big breaths. The nurse said he was passing. He didn’t take another breath. The nurse pronounced him at 8:18pm. I grabbed my phone which said 8:18 and took a screenshot. Coincidentally if you want to call it that I had set my phones lock screen early that morning with the scripture Jeremiah 33:3 in which God said, “call out to me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things.” So 8:18 was on top of this scripture on my phone.
Later that night I couldn’t get 8:18 off my mind. It occurred to me that 8-18 is my oldest daughter’s birthday. August 18. When my wife Sandra was pregnant with her she went for an ultrasound at 18 weeks. My daughter, in the womb, had cysts in her chest cavity. The doctors said she would die in a matter of days and they couldn’t do anything. So we prayed for a miracle and God gave me Romans 8:28 to hold onto. It says that all things will work out for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. This scripture gave me peace that if my daughter died I would be ok.
God gave us a miracle who will be 20 years old in August, but what did her birthday 8-18 have to do with the time of my dad’s death 8:18? I felt the Holy Spirit say return to the book of Romans that helped you before but this time turn to chapter 8 verse 18. I had no idea what it said but I did it. It says,”I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. ”
That was the great and unsearchable thing God wanted to show me and to share with you. We suffer here, but one day if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our savior He will reveal the glory of Heaven to us. And I believe that my father would want you all to know that. We would all gather for birthday dinners at his and my mom’s house-kids, grandkids and great grandkids and in-laws. We almost had every month of the year covered. I know that he loved those times.
He made his decision for Christ in his later years and I believe he is up in Heaven right now pleading and cheering for his loved ones to make the same decision so that one day we can all gather together again for an eternity of celebrations.