An African Roller coaster

Vignettes from a couple of crazy, chaotic, wonderful Kenyan days:

We have held vision clinics the last two days for the kids and staff at Rehema.  A young man named Peter came in to have his eyes checked and his vision needed considerable correction.  After receiving the glasses that matched his need, having them fitted to his face and taught how to care for them well, he walked out of the clinic with a 100 mega watt smile.  When asked what he could see as he looked around, he exclaimed “Everything!”.

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Roger and I have always had a soft spot in our hearts for Abed.  His picture sits on the bookshelf of our living room.  When he came in to have his eyes read by the auto refractor, I showed him a picture of that picture and told him that even though it had been five years since we’ve been together, we think about him and pray for him often.  We told him how much we care for him.  It might have been my imagination, but it’s possible that I wasn’t the only one with tears in their eyes.

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Apparently little kids wanting to wear glasses, even though they don’t need them, is not exclusively an American thing.  Perhaps the most frustrating thing during our clinic was trying to figure out which ones were honestly needing glasses and which ones just wanted them.  There couldn’t POSSIBLY be an epidemic of Rehema kids who needed strong bifocals at the young age of 10.

On Wednesday, we opened up our clinic to the community.  They lined up at the gate and patiently waited for their turn.  One woman who came in  will forever remain etched in the team’s memory.  She was elderly and walked with a long stick that helped her support a body that was literally bent over in the shape of a question mark.  The thought that she very possibly walked miles to get to us was enough to make any of us tear up.  She was so far sighted that she could not see the faces of her loved ones or pretty much anything else.  We were able to fit her with a pair of very strong reading glasses that she could use for everyday wear.  Her appreciation was overwhelming.  She used the Swahili and English “God bless you” over and over again as she literally danced her way home.  I would have loved to have seen how that frail body managed to dance, but that is what she did.  She danced a jig.

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Not all of our experiences were happy.  Perhaps one of my hardest times is holding the auto refractor up to the eyes of someone who comes to us with a triage sticker that says “CS”.  CS means Can’t See.  The familiar beepbeepbeepbeepbeep that we expect to hear as the auto refractor  reads an eye is eerily silent as there is nothing to read.  And then that person must be told that there is nothing that we can do to help them.  But we pray for them and we love them, and hopefully that is enough for that day.

Thank you to each one of you who has supported any one of the eleven members of our team, either financially or in prayer.  I hope you read these stories and realize that it is just as much you who is participating in them as it is us.  Our time here is God-touched and powerful.  Words cannot fully express the power of what we are experiencing, but this has been my attempt.

 

 

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Back to Kenya — The Next Chapter

Five years ago, Roger and I traveled with a group halfway around the world to Rehema In Step Children’s Home (http://www.rehemainstep.com) in Kitale, Kenya. To say that our view of God and His world was changed would be a drastic understatement. To this day, there are children at Rehema that we remember vividly and pray […]

via Back to Kenya — The Next Chapter

Back to Kenya

Five years ago, Roger and I traveled with a group halfway around the world to Rehema In Step Children’s Home (http://www.rehemainstep.com) in Kitale, Kenya.  To say that our view of God and His world was changed would be a drastic understatement.  To this day, there are children at Rehema that we remember vividly and pray for frequently because they touched our hearts.  In fact, we left a piece of our hearts back in Kitale.

We both considered returning…..some day.  But then life intervened, and it was obvious that God had other things He wanted us to do.  So we tabled that dream and did the work that was in front of us.  And to be perfectly honest, the desire to go again dimmed as we became busy with grandkids, work and other things.

I struggled with the need to return until a good friend (who has been back repeatedly) told me that she was told that it was only when a person returns a second time that the kids feel that we truly love them.  In their way of thinking, one trip to see them is for us.  But two trips is for them.

And then that same friend said that one child asked her, “When is the lady who reads to us coming back?”  I’m not certain that I’m the person that child was referring to, but there is a chance I am.  So how can I refuse a request like that?

Roger and I were asked to lead a team of 11 people who will be working on the dorms and providing eye checks to the children and staff at Rehema in October.  We are partnering with Global Eyeglass Ministries (http://globaleyeglassministry.org) and will receive the training, equipment and eyeglasses needed to provide eyeglasses for whomever needs them among the 250 children and adults at the home.  In addition, we are exploring the possibility of reaching out to the community with a clinic.  How exciting will it be to change the life of an adult who is no longer able to work because of eyesight that could be easily corrected?  How wonderful would it be to share the love of Christ in such a tangible way?

Would you please pray for us?  Pray for our ministry to the kids and community.  Pray that our love for Christ would be evident in all that we say and do.  Pray that Roger and I would do well as leaders.  Please pray.

If you feel so led, we would welcome any financial support that would help us to reach our goal.  Because of the generosity of our church and friends and family, we are getting close, but not yet there.  Your gift would contribute not only to the costs of travel, the the cost of renting an auto refractor and other clinic items.  The link to donate specifically to our account is (https://southhillschurch.focusmissions.com/!/#/7677/kenya-fall-2018-in-step-childrens-home/participants/63232/donate).

Thank you for reading this blog post,  your prayers, and perhaps your financial support.  We value your partnership greatly!

By the way, I’m bringing a stack of children’s books.  I hope I’m asked to read them.

 

The Amos Baraka Rolltop Desk

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Jennifer is my twin.  We happen to be separated by a generation,  but with the exception of that one glaring detail, we are essentially the same person.  Now I realize that if  I were to describe her at this point, I would be dangerously close to prideful self-exultation, so I will just let those of you who know me fill in the details.  Let’s just say she’s pretty dang cool!

The reason I say this is that she gave me this desk.  It is as cute as a bug’s ear.  It is short, and stumpy, and rounded.  Structurally, it is in beautiful shape, which was a refreshing change from my last project, which was  a headache-inducing trip down the rabbit hole of furniture restoration.  So instead of spending hours with nails and glue, I spent hours on the creative side of things.  This desk is painted a lovely bottle-green/blue color (a combination of AS Antibes Green and Aubusson Blue), and sealed with black wax.  But that color is on top of a hodgepodge of other colors, leaving a touch of serendipity on the distressed areas.  I don’t normally like to distress, but this cute desk called for going out of my comfort zone.  And finally, I painted a french graphic on the roll top part.  I’m hoping it’s French for something like “Stationery Store”, which I considered appropriate for this piece of furniture.

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As I considered which Rehema child to name the desk after, Amos came to mind.  If you’ve ever been to Rehema Instep Children’s Home in Kenya you probably remember Amos.  He is the owner of a 100 watt mischievous smile and an endearing personality, and in meeting him, you fall in love.  I will never forget his mini sermon during Sunday chapel, where he warned all of his fellow brothers and sisters that they were to respect the visitors’ personal space and refrain from pulling our hair or climbing all over us.  His admonition came with the warning that such outlandish violations of our personal space would result in a “bottom warming”, which he illustrated by grabbing his own and jumping up and down with laughter.  Clearly, he was playing to the crowd.

 

The Rehema website states:

“Amos arrived December 2007. He was born at the district hospital, but his mother ran away leaving him behind the day he was born. He stayed in the hospital for two and a half months as they tried to trace his mother. During that time, he did not receive proper food and suffered from malnutrition and developed a serious case of rickets. When he arrived, we started treatments for rickets with balanced nutrition and baby formula, he began to improve quickly.

Amos is now a very active little comedian who loves being around people. He brings so much joy to every person he meets.”

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How wonderful.  Because of the care that Amos receives, he has blossomed into the young man he is today.  It literally brings tears to my eyes to think of a world with no Amos.  And it brings joy to my heart to think of who this young boy will become.

So unabashedly, I ask you to buy this desk.  All the money will be sent immediately to Rehema, to be used to care for Amos and the other 171  children like him.  It has been priced at $275.

 

The Purity Chemtai Empire Dresser

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Maybe it’s the fact that my life is centered around grandkids these days….but I imagine this dresser being used as a changing table.  Oh!  You haven’t heard that I’ve become a grandma?  Well, let me tell you about Rosie, Jack, and June!  (*proceeds to whip out photos of the cutest kids on this earth, totally turning a blog post about Rehema Children’s Home and furniture into a shameless plug about her grand babies)

Ahem.  Back to the subject.  Up for sale this week is a beautiful Empire style dresser.  It has been painted a lovely shade of Paris Grey, outfitted with brand new drawer bottoms, and given beautiful glass knobs.  (Did you notice the keyholes?  I’m such a sucker for a good keyhole) It is truly a beautiful piece.

 

This cutie-patootie of a dresser was a royal pain in the rear, though.  Old furniture can be hard to restore, and this particular piece taught us a few things along the way.  Eventually, Roger and I will take replacing drawer bottoms and veneer in stride, but sometimes we consider taking a sledgehammer to a piece as a method of survival.  This was such a time.

But it’s done.  And she is named for a very special young woman named Purity Chemtai.  If you were to go to Rehema’s website, you would read this about her:

“Arrived June 2015, Purity, the oldest of our children in the Stepping Stones program. She had been put in a facility with teen boys. We were asked to take her as she can not defend herself. She is a brilliant young lady who has control only over her head muscles. She tells stories to the kids and for the first time is going to school. She is learning quickly how to read. She love going to the kitchen and watching the cooks. If she wasn’t trapped in her body she would be helping with everything. She will be with us for a lifetime. We are hoping to educate her to be a teacher’s helper.”

Stepping Stones, a center for special needs children, is relatively new at Rehema.  I won’t attempt to give all the background and history that led Jeff, Carla, Beth Ann and the staff to this undertaking, but I am in awe of how God led them to be advocates for a group of children who have precious few to be their champions.  (http://www.rehemainstep.com/projects/stepping-stones/)

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’   Matt 25:40

So consider buying this beautiful dresser.  All proceeds go to support Rehema Instep Children’s home.  It has been priced at $295.

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My, it’s been awhile…..

Goodness.  It’s not like I haven’t been doing anything for the last year and a half.  I’ve remodeled our basement, loved on the 3 grandchildren who have been added to the family, lost 70 lbs, and painted furniture.  Lots of furniture.  I just haven’t written about it or added it to the blog.  Some of it was commissioned work:

 

 

 

Some of it was painted to donate for an auction:

 

But most of it was built/painted and kept in our home. When our basement flooded, we ripped out the carpets, stained the concrete and went for an industrial feel.  Apparently, my youngest son carries some of my genes, because he built me an incredible industrial bookshelf as a Christmas present :

 

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And then my husband, along with our good friend Lyle, built a mid-century modern console table.   I am absolutely in love with this table:

 

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But the project that consumed me (and almost killed my love for refinishing furniture) was this oak file cabinet.  To be honest, I would have passed it by had my friend, Kathy, not seen its potential.  Everyone needs friends like Kathy.  But this cabinet took every last ounce of patience to be made into its present glory:

 

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Oh yeah…and a farmhouse table.  That same above-mentioned friend, Lyle, along with husband, Roger, built this beautiful one-of-a-kind farmhouse table out of Sapele wood.  The best moments are when this table is filled with family and friends, eating and talking.

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And there are even a few more projects that didn’t make it to this blog entry, because I’m thinking that most of my reader’s eyes are glazing over at this point.  So this is my pitiful attempt at a grandiose “this is what I’ve been up to, now can we just say I’m sorry for not keeping current and start again”.  But what I’ve realized from the process of putting it all out here, is that it takes a village.  A husband (and occasionally a son) who is willing to help me repair, build, and move furniture from Point A to Point B and then back to Point A again.  Friends who donate furniture, lend their awesome woodworking expertise and workshops to me.  Friends who spot potential in furniture that looks too broken or gross to ever be beautiful again.  And friends who come to me  and say,  “I would love for you to paint _________.  I trust you to do whatever you want to with it”.  Thank you for your trust.  Thank you for your support of Rehema Instep Children’s Home.  My support of them and my mission that my time, talent, and profits be used for them and God’s glory remains unchanged.

I already have several pieces of furniture painted and ready for sale, as well as ideas swirling around in my head for future projects.  Stay tuned.  I promise it won’t be a year and a half until you hear from me again!!

Two-Ton Keys

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I hand the keys over to the woman who will sell off the contents of my parents’ house.  As I do so, I notice that with those keys, I transfer a weight that I had been carrying for months, yet feel an emptiness only anticipated.  I stiff-arm the knowledge that this woman and her staff would be putting price tags on the items that my parents had so lovingly collected throughout their lives.  I avoid thinking about the fact that hundreds of people will be walking through their house, judging, valuing and devaluing the very items that I hold dear.  Such thoughts only bring pain.  And it is with relief that I realize the physical burden is no longer mine.  It belongs to this woman.  I am beyond thankful that there are people who do what she does.  Part of me wants to kiss the ground she walks on.  I mention to her that I find this whole process “weird”.  She agrees that it is, indeed, weird.

I know that the next time I come, the house will be empty of many of the things that trigger memories made in the last 30 years. Gone will be the round oak dining table. Would I still remember the day I brought home the man I would marry, and we sat around this table, if there is no table to remind me?  My mom served a delicious meal topped off with a 12 layer lady finger rum torte, a family favorite.  The torte was mistakenly made with 100 proof rum.  Roger, a tee-totaler, would never live that one down.  The memory would live on, but who would tell the story?  Gone would be the kayaks and boats that carried us over the lake on sunny days.  Gone would be the patio furniture we sat on while we watched the 4th of July fireworks on Lake Sawyer.  Gone would be the dishes that held meals lovingly prepared.  Gone would be the couch that my mom fell asleep on while watching TV.  Gone.  Gone.  Gone.

Not all the memories were good.  Sometimes the halls rang with disagreement, anger and resentment.  But such is the way of families, and it is impossible to have the good and not some of the bad.  I also watched both of my parents spend their last days in that house.  That is why those keys feel like they weigh a ton.  I am losing a part of myself.

The next day my brother and sister come.  We go through each room one by one and examine each item to be sure that we do not overlook anything we could use or needs to be kept.   But then we simply sit in that living room with the one-in-a-million view of both Lake Sawyer and Mount Rainier and talk, and laugh, and tear up.  The burdens that we carry are lessened as we share them.  And the thought occurs to me: the connection that we have is the very thing that will trigger these memories.  But it will take more of an effort than it did before, because we no longer have parents who will pull us together.   It will be all too easy to allow the busyness of life to keep us from sharing life together.  My mom would never forgive us if that happens.

And as we put our last minute treasures into the car, we make note that the next time we come, it will be into a new reality.  It will be an empty house.  It will be a house that is ready to sell, and no longer a place that feels like home.  In a way, I am saying goodbye to mom and dad one more time, but still dreading the day that those keys would be handed over to one last person….the new owner.

But today is not that day.  Not yet.  And so I lock the door and walk away.

 

My house is scattered throughout with items that remind me of my parents.  A beautiful crocheted afghan drapes itself on the back of my sofa.  A barrister bookcase holds volumes of the books I treasure.  A painting they bought while in the Caribbean hangs in my guest room.  I’ll try to keep alive the bonsai my dad lovingly cared for for over 15 years.  On the far right of my closet is the outfit that my mom wore on the day we went to see “Grease” in Seattle.  Our last normal day together.

IMG_1883Saying goodbye to your parents is not easy.  It happens in drips and drabs.  I’m afraid of the day that the things that I adopted of them into my home no longer remind me of them.  Maybe then I’ll be able to start getting rid of some of them.  But not today.

And so I close the closet door.  And walk away.

Letters and Stuff

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Like most people, I struggle with how much “stuff” to allow into my life.  You know….”stuff”… as in “possessions”.  As I’ve been sorting through my parent’s belongings after their death, this struggle has been brought into sharper light.  My mom had many amazing qualities, but she saved way too much of her stuff.  And so my siblings and I have been clearing it out,  making Goodwill runs, dump runs and donating it to worthwhile causes.  Much of it will be sold, because my parents had good taste.  It just isn’t my taste.

So very little has made its way back to my house, mainly because I know from experience how easy it is to allow too much stuff to collect and the cost that it exacts.  But I have been unable to simply throw away the boxes and boxes of old letters that I’ve come across, and so I’ve brought them home with me.  A reader by nature, I have simply set aside my evening book, and delved into my letter box.  I’ve found letters from my parents to each other, and chuckle as I discover that my dad’s pet name for mom was “kitten”.   I acquainted myself with the grandfather that I never met through his letters of courtship to my grandmother.  His generousity, kindness and gentleness shine through the words he wrote on the page.  I gained insight into my mom and grandma’s relationship as they share the minutia of life – cleaning successes, weather, family issues, and town news.  I come upon letters that I wrote home while in college, and teared up because I knew that my letters mattered to mom.

I am struck by the realization that I no longer write nor receive letters.  Long, thoughtful letters have been replaced by texts, phone calls, and Skype.  These are all good things, but I can’t help but feel wistful for a practice now nearly extinct.  There is something rich about receiving a handwritten letter.  There is something satisfying about reading a letter that took longer to prepare than a 30 second text.  There is something poignant about being able to stash away a meaningful letter and reread it at a later time.

There must be more than just a little of mom in me, because I am not throwing all of these letters away.  Some of them I’ll save, and perhaps one day my daughter will read through them and think some of the very same thoughts that I am thinking. Or maybe she’ll just grumble that I saved too much of my stuff.

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For the first time in a very, very, long time, I’ve been painting.  This wardrobe was given to me by my brother and sister-in-law.  Beautiful before I touched it, it did need to be tweaked just a bit to allow for more storage.  Some of the buckling veneer was removed.  Shelves were added to the cabinet.  The useless bottom false-front drawer was taken out and replaced with a shelf.  I decided to give the wardrobe a somewhat industrial feel, but if the diamond steel plated boxes aren’t to your liking, they can be removed and replaced with baskets or simply be used as a shelf.

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I am looking forward to sending the purchase price of $275 to http://www.rehemainstep.com.  There have been big doin’s at Rehema lately.  God has been prompting Jeff and Carla to continue caring for a very underserved segment of Kenyan society – those children who will need extra care because of their handicaps and special challenges.  I am looking forward to hearing more of how this plays out.  As such, I have named this piece of furniture after Anthony Faraja, a young boy with cerebral palsy.  I remember Anthony, and the way his face would light up when you spent time with him.  I love the fact that he will be cared for on a long term basis.  I love the way God’s love shines through the Piccici’s.  Please consider sponsoring one of “their” children.

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Singing Salvation’s Song

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Onalee Anderson was born in Jacksonville, Illinois on June 11th, 1936 to Lucille and Gary Eberhardt. She passed away at her home on Lake Sawyer, Black Diamond, WA, on August 16th, 2015 under the loving care of her children.  Each of her children, as well as their spouses, were able to care for her during her last months.  Her last two weeks were spent in the house that she had shared with our dad for the past 28 years.  She passed in the same exact place, looking at the same view, as our dad.  We believe that this was how she wished it to be.

She leaves behind 4 children: Cheryl Gregg and husband Roger, Natalie Staley, Gwen Anderson and Matt Anderson and his wife Lily.  She loved and was loved by 10 grandchildren: Jared, Meg, Hillary, Marc, Kevin, Morgan, Matt, Maxx, Flossie and Gus.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Wayne, her parents Lucille and Gary Eberhardt, brother Ron Eberhardt, and a granddaughter, Lindey.

Mom graduated from Valparaiso University in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science in Education, and was proud of the fact that she and her friends were the charter members of Phi Betta Chi.  To nobody’s surprise today, she was their first social chairman.

It was during her years at Valpo that she met Wayne Anderson while on a double date with another guy.  He quickly realized he was with the wrong girl, and stole her away to become his date for life.  They were married on June 22, 1958.

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Moms first year of teaching was in Aurora, IL with 36 first graders.  She then joined Wayne, who was stationed in the US Army down in San Antonio and taught there briefly before starting their family.

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Mom loved children.  Over the years, she taught , and sometimes directed, Preschool thru 4th  grade .  But the gift that she had in connecting with young children was never more appreciated than by the ones she loved the most…..her grandchildren.  We treasure so many memories of Grandma reading to her grandchildren, making craft projects with them, cooking and baking with them, teaching them “Heart and Soul” on the piano and sharing her love of Jesus with them.  She was absolutely unable to bypass a good children’s book – or a book on sale – because she was intent on building up their library and their love for reading.  All of our kids, her grandchildren, knew that grandma’s arms were always open and that she was ready to be with them.

Our mother was a gracious, loving and kind woman.  She was a hostess to the mostest, an amazing cook who “outdid herself” in making family gatherings memorable and special.   She was never happier than when her house was filled with family and friends and the sounds of laughter and love. She was a bridge player, who along with her “foursome”, played cards in far-flung places such as Germany.  She loved growing flowers and arranging them.  She and dad traveled the world: China, the Mediterranean, much of the United States, including Alaska, and the Caribbean.  She loved music passionately.  She played the piano and the clarinet, but her favorite instrument was her voice, which she used to sing in choirs, around the house, in school, and in the car.  And the songs that she sang were invariably about the Jesus that she loved and served.

She was an amazing mother.  I honestly can’t remember when she  didn’t have time, didn’t have energy, or had something else that she wanted to do when we needed her.  The words, “Not now”, were not in her vocabulary . She sacrificed for us, loved us uncompromisingly, and cheered us on, enabling us to become better than what we thought we could.  Her pride in us, her kids, was total and sometimes bordered on embarrassing.  We have lost our cheerleader, our supporter, the most amazing hugger and our friend.  Life will not be the same.

Mom was so appreciative of little kindnesses.  She treasured the notes, gifts, flowers, and visits given her by friends.  She kept them in baskets and revisited them often.  She was thankful for the small group from 1st Pres. that she and dad, and later, just she, was a part of.  Her Thursday morning Bible study and the women that were in it with her, was something she looked forward to greatly and was hoping to feel better enough to join up until the very end.

But it was her faith in God that transcended all these other loves and defined her as a person. She was a prayer warrior.  We will never know, this side of heaven, how our lives were changed because of her prayers and the God who answers them.  Her Bible was usually open….highlighted, noted in the margins, falling apart from use, and spilling out with sticky notes with written insights.

A book that I treasure is  “Edge of Eternity”.  It is an allegory for the Christian life – a more modern day “Pilgrim’s Progress”.  In it, the main character, Nick, travels a road here on earth that leads ultimately to heaven.  Along the way he is given a large bag and is told to pick up rocks and place them in this bag.  Confused, Nick notices that the bigger rocks are a result of difficult times and sorrow, and yet he continues to carry his collection of rocks, bending under the burden that they become.

My mom had quite the sack of rocks.  Losing her dad at the age of ten, undergoing bladder cancer, uterine cancer, and ultimately lung cancer were the boulders she bore.  She carried those rocks uncomplainingly, with grace and humor. But the allegory doesn’t end with death being the giving up of that bag, laying it down in utter exhaustion and frustration because life is over.  Because as the main character in the story lays the bag down at his Savior’s feet, Jesus lovingly asks him to open the bag and pour it out.  As he pours out the contents, he is astonished to find that every rock has been transformed into a beautiful jewel.  The larger, more cumbersome rocks become the most beautiful of all, and they are given as an offering to His Savior.  I can only imagine my mom’s joy as she lays her jewels at her Savior’s feet and hears Him say to her, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

A week and a half before she died, in an effort to distract from her overwhelming pain and nausea, I asked my mom to talk about her life.  I learned things that I never knew before.  I learned that despite her recent ease in striking up a conversation with just about anyone, she was a painfully shy little girl, a daddy’s girl.  Her very first job was selling hosiery.  During her second year of teaching in San Antonio, she taught a little boy, Benito, who captured her heart.  She and her mom played tennis together often.  She loved to sing in choirs, and over the years, has participated as a bass, tenor, alto and soprano. (Her favorite was bass).  As we got to the end of her story, I said, “It’s been a good life, hasn’t it?”, and she replied, “It’s been a very good life.”  But as was always her way, she turned the conversation into the things of God.  She hastened to add, “ I just want it to be known that my life is a picture of God’s grace and mercy.  Anything good that I’ve done is because God has been gracious and merciful to me, and it is only for the goal of giving Him glory and honor”.

Thank you for reminding us, mom.  But we knew, mom…..we always knew.

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See You Later, Dad

imageOn Wednesday, I held my dad’s hand for the last time. By that time, the cancer that marched unchecked through his body had already dictated that we could no longer communicate through words or gestures. So I sat next to his bedside and held a hand that no longer squeezed back.  I looked into eyes that were glassy and focused inward.  I played Clair de Lune on the piano over the sound of his labored breathing, hoping that a favorite song would reach into his soul and give comfort.  I kissed the familiar features of a face changed by hollowed cheeks and sunken eyes that in just a short while would only be a memory.

The dad that I came to know in recent years is very different from the dad I grew up with.  I don’t know why my dad was so often angry.   All I knew was that his volatile temper was on a hair trigger and the safest bet was to try and keep him happy and keep my distance.  But as his daughter, I longed for a dad that would sit me on his lap, hold me, and tell me that he loved me. For a dad whose moods I didn’t have to evaluate before I approached him.

But as the years passed and we navigated the changing terrain that adult parent/child relationships bring, things began to change. Dad responded with unexpected humor and grace to situations that previously would have resulted in anger.  I struggled with my own sin of holding on to past injustices and withholding forgiveness. I came to realize through my own imperfect parenting that mistakes are too common and stingy grace too frequent.  But there came a day several years ago that my dad hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, and said that he loved me. Those times came more often, and they watered a part of me that I didn’t realize was still dry.

Dad was told several months ago that the surgery meant to remove his cancer was not enough. The cancer had metastasized through his body into his lungs. We watched helplessly as he became weaker and frailer. But as horrible as cancer is, it gave us the time and the urgency to say all that needed to be said.  My last conversation with him was a week ago while lying next to him in his bed.  Despite the pain that drugs were not able to completely keep at bay, his eyes softened and he smiled.  We lay cheek to cheek and held hands.  I asked him if he had asked Jesus into his heart and he looked deeply into my eyes and said yes. We talked about heaven and the fact that no matter what, I would see him later. We dreamed about the bonsai trees that he would be able to train during the eternity that would be his.  It was the perfect last conversation.  It ended with a “See you later” that no matter what the immediate future held, would be certain to come true.

On Wednesday I volunteered to set my alarm to administer dad’s 1:00 am morphine dose.  My mom was so very tired from the physical and emotional strain of caring for my dad for the last six months.  At least I could do this for her….for him. But I wish I could go back in time to make the decision to have stayed by his bedside after that 1:00 am dosage.  I wish that I would have noticed something that indicated his time was so very short.  I wish my mom and I were holding his hand while he breathed his last breath.  I wish my mom didn’t have to wake up several hours later to discover that he was no longer breathing.

But I am so very thankful for the way that my dad died.  With grace, and love, and inner strength.   But most of all, I am so overwhelmingly thankful that dad spent the last months of his life putting his trust in the hands of his Father, the One who loved him most of all.

See you later, Dad.

I love you.