Friday, June 20, 2014

Missing Dad

My father with my 3 kids, only 24 hours before he was promoted to heaven.
Then Joseph hugged his father’s face. He wept over him and kissed him. Joseph instructed the physicians in his service to embalm his father, so the physicians embalmed Israel. They took forty days, for that is the full time needed for embalming. The Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.
When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s royal court, “If I have found favor in your sight, please say to Pharaoh, ‘My father made me swear an oath. He said, “I am about to die. Bury me in my tomb that I dug for myself there in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go and bury my father; then I will return.’” So Pharaoh said, “Go and bury your father, just as he made you swear to do.”

So Joseph went up to bury his father; all Pharaoh’s officials went with him—the senior courtiers of his household, all the senior officials of the land of Egypt, all Joseph’s household, his brothers, and his father’s household. But they left their little children and their flocks and herds in the land of Goshen. Chariots and horsemen also went up with him, so it was a very large entourage.

When they came to the threshing floor of Atad on the other side of the Jordan, they mourned there with very great and bitter sorrow. There Joseph observed a seven day period of mourning for his father.
~ Genesis 50:1-10, NET~

So. much. loss.  How do you ever heal from having a loved one stolen away for the remainder of your days on earth?

Joseph had all of those years separated from his father.  There was so much lost time to make up for when they were reunited.  Yet, even he and his father were not spared the mournful schism of death.  While Jacob left a powerful legacy, his demise also created a huge void.

Three years ago today, my father went the way of Jacob and so many others before him.  Catching us quite by surprise, he fell to the floor with a burst aneurism at about 5:30 in the morning.  He made it to his heavenly home in time for lunch.

As I read this passage from Genesis, I can relate to Joseph's deep grief.  I also wept over my father, hugging him, and singing him to the gates of heaven along with my siblings and my mom.  After he had passed, I was blessed with the opportunity to be alone with him for a time, talking to him, one last time holding and admiring his beautiful hands that belied their years of devoted hard work.  Oh, the tears.

Like Jacob, my Father left a powerful legacy.  While he only had half as many children as "Israel" did, all 6 of us have proven to be hard-working, responsible citizens.  My Dad's work ethic was not only something imparted to us at home, but was also way of life he practiced in the business he co-owned with a small group of his peers.  That selflessness carried even further into his volunteerism at his church and with our local hemophilia foundation.

Also like Jacob, my Father's departure left a huge void.  What's missing since Dad has been gone?
  • Outrageous humor.  I miss the inevitable chuckles we shared nearly every time we spoke.  I'm sure I got my wit and great love for laughter from him.  Corny at times, yes.  Downright funny, nearly always.  He had a great gift for lightening any heavy mood.
  • Help in any difficulty.  "What can I do for ya?"  This came out of his mouth as frequently as cursing comes out of the mouths of others.  He really meant it.  From shuttling little old nuns to the store or hospital, to taking a grandchild to a homeschool play because mom is too sick, to spending the duration of his retirement caring for his disabled wife, my Dad was dutiful and selfless in how he served others.
  • Warm hospitality.  It wasn't just "What can I do for ya?".  It was also, "What can I get for ya?".  Just when you needed a break, my Dad would offer the relieving hospitality you didn't even realize you were craving.  A lover of good food and drink, my Father would make sure he had on hand just what brought you enjoyment.
  • Comforting, strengthening encouragement.  "Don't get your dauber down," Dad would say as he put his arm around your shoulders.  He had a way of assuring you of better times without babying you.  My Dad gave just the right combination of tender hug mixed with swift kick in the pants.
  • Affirming pride.  "Good for you, honey!  That's great!"  Is it any wonder his approval meant so much?  Dad had an "Atta boy!" at the end of each hurdle, not only for his children, but for his grandchildren too.  It was easy to feel a sense of accomplishment with that kind of feedback from Dad.
Three years later, I still hurt so deeply missing him at times.  He would have been so proud at our son's 8th grade graduation this year.  He would have been so reassuring and helpful when my husband lost a job 9 months ago.  He would have aptly ridiculed and harassed me when my eldest daughter was learning to drive.

I'm glad he left such a remarkable legacy.  That is the only way to somehow heal the many voids that remain in missing Dad.

PRAY:  Father, thank You that You are a Dad we never have to miss.  You're always just a prayer away.  We are always in Your presence.  Thank You for our earthly fathers.  Thank You for what You teach us through these men.  Thank You for the comfort of their legacy when we are feeling so empty from their loss.

~ Barb Dittrich

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