Yesterday afternoon, my dad went to be with Jesus.
It is surreal. It is painful. Missing him is excruciating as I’m sure so many of you have felt a similar way after losing a loved one.
I arrived to the hospital an hour before it happened. It was peaceful. We were all huddled around him holding his hands, telling stories, crying, laughing, praying, being with him. I’m grateful he’s no longer in pain and that he is with the Lord.
Thank you to those who have been praying for our family. It means so much. We’re thankful for the nurses and doctors along the way who loved my dad and treated him like family and loved him so well.
My dad said to me years ago: You know how people are so sad at funerals? At mine, I want it to be a party. I want people to celebrate the wonderful life I have had.
So with all my heart I am trying to do just that – to turn my tears into joy and celebrating who my dad is because that is what he wants. He is always in our hearts and as his sister Priscilla said, I think of his laugh and smile and it make everything a little better.
His joy and laugh indeed fill my heart with joy when I think about it. And to think I got him as my dad. Me, his little girl. I’m so grateful.
I want to share some things I know my dad would want you to know:
– Tell stories a lot. And, if you follow his style, you’ll forget you told a story and will tell the same story again, and again, and again. I love that about my dad. The stories never ever got old.
– Live life up to the fullest. My dad didn’t wait until retirement to enjoy life and make memories- he did that his entire life and, he was able to live out his dream during his life: being married to the love of his life, my mom, and so in love with her, always putting her on a pedestal as he would say, being close with each of us kids, and spending time in Destin, his very favorite place.
– That Jesus is the answer. He often told people who were in his office struggling that Jesus gives hope, life, joy. That Jesus is the Way to be with God, the Truth that will set you free, and the Life that will fill up your heart now and forever.
– To love all people. My dad didn’t care who you were, rich or poor, waiter or executive, he treated everyone with deep interest and care in their lives. Everyone was a friend to my dad and he cared deeply for so many people.
– To love what you do. My dad loved his job. He poured his heart and soul into it. He always cared so deeply for his clients- it wasn’t about the money for him. Ever. He cared about people first. Always. He had integrity and he always wanted to make sure they were taken care of.
– Reversion to the Mean. This was one of his favorite phrases. It basically means that everything will come back to normal. He would tell me when I was having a tough moment, that just as a roller coaster comes down, it will go up again. To take a deep breath- that all will be okay. Just take one step at a time.
– Ask questions. Lots of them. I remember when he came to speak at the inner city school where I used to teach about his job, Atlanta Youth Academy. He walked in the 7th grade class I taught and taped a $10 bill on the wall. He then spoke about his job and afterward asked if there were any questions. A girl in my class raised her hand and asked what the $10 on the wall was for. he said, It’s yours now. He took it down and handed it to her. He said, in life, when you don’t know something, ask a question – that’s how you learn and grow in knowledge and knowledge is power.
I guess the last thing I will say is, I just love my dad so much. He has always been my biggest encourager- the one I go to when I need wisdom, direction, and encouragement. Years ago, he and I did the Max Lucado devotional, “Just Like Jesus: A 30-day Walk with the Savior” together. We would email each other every day after we read the devotional.
That was one of my very favorite memories with my dad, along with the time we spent together just before he walked me down the aisle at my wedding, and he said, “I told you you that you would meet the man of your dreams.” (: The picture of us above is from that moment – one of my very favorite pictures of us.
And, the many times we would walk to the Jetties together, all the times he would make me laugh, his passion pouring out of his lips in the midst of encouraging me. And, his hugs, his joy, his laugh, his smile, him. We love him so much and he will always be in our hearts.