Saying Goodbye, For Now.

On July 4, 2018 my dad passed away. I believe for him it truly was Independence Day – the day that he met his Savior. My dad was a really amazing person. He couldn’t read — until he was an adult. Some thought he was mentally inept, but he was a genius – a real genius. Scoring on the IQ Scale well over 140, he infuriated his teachers who thought that he was just being “lazy” in his studies as a boy. By the time that he retired, he had over 9 patents in his name and he was a self-taught physicist – one that worked for Brown University as a visiting scientist, working with and teaching physics majors.

I loved my dad.

He was an amazing man, and for most of his life, he walked in rebellion to God. But then, he came down with Pulmonary Fibrosis… a fatal disease, not yet well understood.

It was a severe mercy.

In the last year of his life, I was able to spend more than a few weekends with him. (I live about 5 hours from where he lived.) I use to share the gospel with him- sometimes at his bedside in a hospital, sometimes in the quietness of his home.

God  gave me courage. I was so scared, he would be angry with me – and cut me off in his final days ( I have a friend whose Dad did), but he never did. He would listen. Sometimes, I knew he was irritated with me. He wanted me to just “drop it”, just “stop with the Gospel stuff.” But, by God’s grace, I didn’t. I risked his rejection instead.

At the end of his life, he came to know the Lord. Now, I am a Lordship person. So, I do not say that lightly. I do not say that based on some empty “profession” (by the way, please do not send me hate email about my theological position on this matter).

Towards the end of his life,  I had told my dad, “You can be as the holiest man on the face of this earth.” And, (in tears and disbelief) he asked, “Me? How?” And. I responded, ” If you are really sorry for the things that you have done, get rid of you cable box, and spend the rest of your days confessing your sin and praying for the people that you love.”

You know what? The next time that I went to visit him, his cable box was gone.

Anyhow the following is a brief ‘word’ that I shared about my dad at his funeral. God knows that I can not wait to see him. My mother died nine years ago (she also died in July). All that I care about now is living every second for the glory of Christ. It is all that really matters.

And, I thank God for giving me the parents that He gave me, and for forgiving me for all my sin against Him. All that matters now is serving Christ.

I do not know if anyone will ever read this. But, I loved my dad. And, I will always thank God for him.

When I was a girl, I believed that the sun, the moon, and the stars all rose and set around my father. He was my world. If it isn’t too much to say, he was as a god to me. I was happy when he was home, and sad when he had to leave for work. I would pack him lunches for work, putting little notes inside just to tell him that I loved him. Since he worked second shift, I didn’t get to see him much during the week, therefore I often wrote him letters when he was at work, asking him to wake me up as soon as he returned, and then I’d cry myself to sleep while I waited. I have many memories of him waking me and saying, “It’s okay, honey, I’ m home.” And, it seemed to me, that everything was okay – when he was home.

I have so many happy memories with him. He loved to have fun: driving around in the back of his old brown Ford pick-up, bike-riding, kite-flying, trips to the beach, going to the Purple Cow to get an ice-cream, stopping in to see the cousins, visiting with Aunt Vick, Aunt Helen, or Uncle John. It was always something fun and exciting with Dad – (mind you, it wasn’t always something legal, but it was always fun). There was quarry jumping… and then there was the time that we were out riding on the motor-cycle and we happened upon a box of abandoned kittens. Of course, I was riding on back, and he could only fit so many of those little kitties in his coat, so he said, “Here, Beth, you hold these in one arm, and hold on to me with the other.” (I tell you, they were just little kittens, but they were holding on to me for dear life. I can almost feel their little claws digging into my arm and stomach and hear their terrified little meows, as I write this now…” I wouldn’t trade that memory for anything in this world.

Dad loved music – and he instilled in me a love for music, as well. I have so many memories of him playing the accordion and the organ in the front room, while us kids danced around like wild-imps singing and jumping and spinning. I have other memories of him introducing a new song to us that he had just heard – taking us out joy-riding in his Lincoln (He loved that car, didn’t he?), blasting the music and us all singing, “Stand by Me”:

“When the night has come, And the land is dark, And the moon is the only, Light we’ll see, No I won’t be afraid, No I won’t be afraid, Just as long as you stand, Stand by me.

If the sky we look upon, Should tumble and fall, Or the mountain should crumble, To the sea, I won’t cry, I won’t cry, No I won’t she’d a tear, Just as long as you stand, Stand by me.”

As you all know, he was truly one of the funniest people that this earth ever knew, certainly, that I have ever known. He had an incredible wit, he knew human nature, and he could draw a smile out of anyone. He seemed to always know the right thing to say at the right time – to deescalate a situation, or make the outcast feel welcome, or just to bring a smile to your face. He taught me that laughter is good, and that even in sorrow there can be joy.

As you know, he wasn’t a pretentious man. He was who he was. He was okay making mistakes, and he was okay with letting other people make mistakes. He wasn’t the type that was quick to judge, or to criticize unnecessarily. He would give the benefit of the doubt to people for as long as honesty allowed him to do so – and even then, he was slow to point out the faults of others. He always found a way to see the best in people – and overlook the worst.

He was an optimist through and through. I loved that he was an optimist. Last summer, my sons and husband were telling him about a recent experience that they had when they went cliff-jumping. And, he said, “Oh, I have to come out to Pennsylvania, and go cliff jumping with you guys.” Of course, he was on the oxygen tank at the time, but in his optimism, there was a chance that he was going to fix his motorcycle, hook-up his O2 tank to the bike, ride out to Pennsylvania and go cliff-jumping with Dan and the boys. So, even though I haven’t been cliff-jumping since I went with him over twenty-five years ago, I told him that if he really wanted to go jump with the boys, I was willing to jump with him and hold his oxygen tank. I am sure, if he could have figured out a way to do it – he would have.

And, if there was a way to figure out how to rig a motor-cycle with an oxygen tank, take a five hour drive to Pennsylvania, and then do a 50 foot jump into the Delaware River wearing a breathing mask – he would have been the man to figure it out. He was by far one of the most gifted and intelligent men that I have ever known. From him, I learned that there is a way to do almost anything that needs to be done. He intuitively understood things that other people take a life-time of education to begin to comprehend. I loved going into the university, and seeing his work, hearing him explain what he was learning, what his experimentation was teaching the students. His inventions truly did change the world – change technology and impacted our everyday lives in many ways that most of us could never even imagine. And, even though he had been given such an incredible mind and done such amazing things, he could be as humble as a child.

My Dad was one of the most supportive people in my life. When I enlisted in the army, he was sad to see me go – but glad that I went. When I met my husband, he loved him like a son, and he was proud of each of my children – so many memories of him traveling out to see us, laughing with us, and sharing his life and heart with us.

He was no stranger to pain and sorrow. He was a man that knew his own frailties. He was a man that experienced both sorrow and joy, pain and pleasure to their fullest. Several years ago, after one of the lowest times of his life, he had come to visit us. My husband gave him a copy of the Gospel of Luke to listen to on his car-ride home. He listened to the whole thing, and when he got home he decided to read through the New Testament (as you know, he was not a man that read much). Only a few weeks later he called us and told me how amazed he was at who Jesus was – how he never knew that Jesus spent all His free time with the sinners. He was so angry at how Herod and Pilate had betrayed the Lord – after all the wonderful things that the Lord had done for people in His life-time. He couldn’t understand how someone as wonderful as Jesus could die for poor sinners.

And, now Dad understands, better than any of us — better than those of us that have never thought about Christ for one second of our lives, and he understands better than me – someone who has given the last twenty years of my life (more than that, really) thinking about the wonder and the beauty of who Jesus Christ is and what He did for poor sinners like me.

What can I say? I loved my father deeply, and I will miss him terribly. I comfort myself with the knowledge that he has gone with God – and in time, I will go with God, and then I will see him again.”

Don’t ever stop sharing the Gospel. They need to hear it, they need to know the truth – Jesus Christ, God’s Son was crucified, buried, and resurrected for the forgiveness of sins that whoever would believe in Him will be saved. 

Questions? Comments? Testimonies?

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