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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Someone Else’s Father’s Day

June 21st, 2009

The morning begins with their beautiful faces. “Here, Daddy. We have something for you!” Two Father’s Day cards. One store bought and one homemade. “Daddy, see how I did the design around the hearts?” They are no longer the little babies I used to carry, one in each hand. I remember how natural it felt to do that. All those years on the farm carrying 5-gallon feed pails, one in each hand. Carrying babies in lock and load car seats are the same, only lighter.

Now they pick their outfits on their own. Smartly dressed in pink and orange, wearing their white high heel sandals which make them feel oh so grown up, it’s off to church. I teach a lesson from Genesis 15 about God’s unconditional promise made to Abram. That no matter what, God always delivers on His promises, even if the timing seems strange to us. Then in to worship and preaching that reminds us not to lose our heart or forget our first Love, that being Jesus who saves us.

A Father’s Day lunch at Pei Wei which, given the day, isn’t crowded at all. We sit at our favorite spot on the bar chairs by the counter so we can watch them stir fry while we partake of our Ginger Broccoli and Teriyaki Chicken. And for whatever else my kids will remember about me, I think they will remember that it was always my job to put the chopstick holders on their chopsticks so they can eat their Lo Mein noodles without a fork.

A quick stop at home. The girls, being girls, want to change from high heels to flip flops. A peek at Facebook shows lots of friends talking about the fabulous Dad’s Day lunches they are enjoying. Everything from slow roasted pulled pork to Mexican feasts. When it comes to fathers, you can’t miss with food.

It’s a happy day for all I know. Or so it seems until I open an email from Steve Tracy. A friend and former grad school professor, he emails to say his father has been found unconscious on the floor of a parking garage. He is in the hospital and not expected to survive. And this less than 24 hours before Steve and Celestia are to fly to Africa to minister there.

Reading his email, I can feel his wonder about the timing of it all.

I pray for Steve and his family on the way to Carillon House. It’s our weekly visit to bring flowers and talk with our elderly friends.

“What are we here to do, girls?”, I ask the way I always ask as we pull into the parking lot.

“Serve each other with love!”, they respond in twin sync.

And serve they do. Filling vases with water, replacing the old flowers with new Astrolemerias of white, burgundy, purple, yellow and orange. They are engaging the residents and extended families alike. I tell them how proud I am. Emma looks at me and says, “Daddy, I’m on a roll.” And she disappears with vase in hand, off to greet a new patient. Of her own accord she, at home, painted over 20 handmade watercolor signs that read, “I love you! Love, Emma”. Whether she knows them or not, they get an “I love you” to tape up on their wall.

An elevator up to the 4th floor to Vista Care Hospice. It’s quiet up here today. Only three patients. We’ll be in and out quickly. The twins head down the hall with the flowers when I call to Emma, “Hey, look. You have exactly three signs left.”

A few minutes later and we are about to leave. A 30-something woman walks past the nurses’ station, carrying Emma’s “I love you” sign.

“Are you Emma? Are you the one who gave me the flowers and this note?”

“Yep. That’s me. I’m the one.”

“I want to thank you for that. It’s a very nice thing you did. Thank you for the flowers.”

“You’re welcome.” I glance at Annie. She is staring at the woman’s eyes. I look, too. They are full of tears. The kind that are doing everything they can to stay put.

I quietly ask, “Who’s here?”

“My Dad.”

“What’s his name?”

“Mando….Armando…”

What do you do? What do you say when someone else’s Father’s Day is watching their Dad die before the day is done?

Interesting how life and death moments transcend familiarity. We are strangers. Yet we both have Dads. Hers is dying. What more needs to be known? I give her a big hug. “I’m sorry. I’ll pray for you.”

She thanks me and gives her tears permission to run. Emma’s paper “I Love You” in hand, she heads back to her father’s room.

Today some Dads opened cards and gift boxes of cologne and neckties. Some went to church with their families and ate steak and potatoes and chocolate pie and took a Sunday afternoon nap. Others, like my friend Steve Tracy and like Armando’s daughter, spent the day by the bed of their dying fathers. It’s a sobering thought and honestly one I can’t relate to. I wonder about the timing of it all.

And in the wondering I have no answers. Just a hope and a faith that God is here. On this Father’s Day, He is here for it all. God is here for the singing at church and the family photos and the BBQ lunches. God is here for the Hallmark cards and the gifts of soap on a rope. And He’s here for the tears of the grieving for whom this Father’s Day is the last day they’ll spend with their Dad this side of heaven.

God is here for it all.

“Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more – or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.”
– Revelation 21:4

Todd A. Thompson – www.ASliceOfLifeToGo.com