May 11, 2019  •  Leave a Comment
In about a month, I’ll be celebrating my 25th class reunion. Hard to believe that we’ve been out of high school that long. I’m part of one on the best classes to come out of Atchison County & I love catching up with those guys.But with celebration comes a time of remembrance too. Eleven days before we received our diplomas, I lost my dad to cancer.The events of those days are as fresh in my mind as they were 25 years ago. And I’m guessing that’s due to the fact that I was a 17 year old Senior in high school who had prom and graduation and her whole life ahead of her, who was also dealing with the realization that all that was going to be done without my dad around. Just an impressionable time, I suppose.This day always brings up those last words he said to me, that song  on the radio, & the feeling of complete loneliness as I watched my siblings mourn with their families. But you have to choose to look at the other side.....the days before May 11, 1994.....Like the trips to Western Kansas to see my great aunt & uncle, which were the only “vacations” I ever got. :-) I’ll never forget getting to swim in the hotel pool while Dad sat in the metal chair and Mom went back to my aunts house.....paddling away in that cement pool while he was whistling. What a joy it was for me to get to enjoy that day in the sunshine with him!Or when our driveway got a layer of asphalt from the asphalt company that had used our space in town for their temporary plant. That’s what Dad wanted for payment....for them to come asphalt our drive. And when they did, the bike riding was never so good! How could I ever know that seeing that big smile on his face as my bike zoomed past him & Mom watching from the back of the garage would someday give me more joy than that amazing bike ride?Or the night of my eight grade graduation....when he took a picture of me & Mom. And then it was Mom’s turn to take a picture of me & Dad. She wasn’t the best with a camera. She usually closed her eyes to take it & complained about all the buttons,  which makes me laugh all over again. But that night, it tickled Dad & I so much we couldn’t hardly keep it together. And looking at that picture now, I fill right up with joy.Or when he went with me to pick up to get my “new” car. I could sense a lot of unknowns but at the same time I could tell we were riding home in faith. He knew that was first and last major purchase he’d be able to help me with, and I could tell he wasn’t sure about it. Now, as a parent looking back onto that, it fills me with joy thinking that he knew I was going to be ok with all the unknowns.Or any of the days, really. The memories I have of the three of us, Mom, Dad, & I, are only mine now. I have no one to laugh about the talcum powder, or the nature walks, or the trips through Sam’s Club, but that’s ok. I am joyful just because I have those memories.The days after May 11, 1994 are just as big of blessings too, but I will always wonder and wish.I wish he could have met Craig. He would have been at every single sale & they would have been in the pasture talking cows every evening, I’m sure. Mom loved Craig more than anyone, but it might have been a close race with my dad!And my kids.....Dad always had a good time with his grandchildren. How I wish they could have met him & heard that happy sigh after his laugh. I wish they could have sat on his lap while watching Hee-Haw. I wish they could have shared cookies with him after school.And me....You can’t help but wonder if your parents are pleased with who you’ve become.But twenty-five years later, you just have to move forward in faith, knowing that you’ve done the best you could do. They say that it’s easier for kids to lose a parent because they’re more resilient. I’m not sure that’s true, but I don’t think the Lord would have taken him if He didn’t think that I hadn’t learned enough to get me through the rest of my life. To this day, I still run into people who my dad helped lead to know the Lord or provided a need when they had none, or just showed a bit of kindness.Besides starting me off in my faith & relationship with God, my dad showed me what it was to be kind to others. He had no patience for people who were dishonest or hateful. But the compassion he had for those in need will forever be on my heart.He spent years before I was around in Kenya & Haiti.  He drove a bus full of teenagers to Kansas City Youth for Christ every Saturday for I-dont-know-how-many years.  He led Youth for Christ meetings around Horton while I was a teenager. The last few years of his life, his mission field was the Kickapoo Reservation nearby. We spent many a Wednesday night & weekends going from site to site in the van. We sometimes met in people’s homes, sometimes in the church. He loved those families like his own. He showed them Jesus, taught them the Bible, & lead many of them to know Christ. I cannot tell you the joy that comes when I realize I have a grandchild of one of those families in my classroom, or when I meet someone at church that worked with him at the Kahbeah Chapel. It feels a little bit like it’s a reminder that I am doing what he would be thankful for.If you’re going through a loss, go through it. Don’t cut it short or stuff it down. Deal with it. Mourn it. Celebrate it. And don’t let anyone tell you it’s time to move on. Grief never gets gets easier, you just learn how to live with it.Twenty-five years later and here I am, still dealing. What I’ve learned in that time is that my dad was right.....drop the liars and the kindness, even if it’s to someone you don’t know. If you can be like Jesus, then there’s another reason for all the joy. *Matthew 5:11-12


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