He was not one for grandiose entrances or lots of hoopla. He was simple, yet you knew that he was always in deep thought. Because when the words did flow, there was much wisdom embedded within them.
When dad was diagnosed with a fracture in his lower spine five years ago, my heart fell to the basement of my soul. What now? The procedure was, in my opinion, too risky for someone 87 years old — much less the recovery. The doctors could not seem to satisfy my inquiry with success rates of patients with his same physical ‘conditions’ having undergone the recommended procedure.
I had to make that decision. And it took my breath away after I settled with what GOD had laid upon my heart do to.
The alternative was a nursing rehabilitation facility whereby dad would undergo physical therapy to strengthen his body with the goal to protect him from further injury. My husband secured such a place relatively close (where we live that translates to less than 40 minutes of freeway driving) to our home. So everyday for the next 100 days, I committed to making the trek after work, bringing his prepared ‘snack’ and hitting the road for our evening meal.
It was worthwhile to see his face light up when I would unexpectedly show up to watch him during his physical therapy sessions. Dad was eager to show me his progress — that meant a lot to him. He even introduced me to the entire physical therapy staff. That day, they allowed for me to push his wheelchair back to his room. He was so proud.
I would ask him how he felt after all that work and he would tell me, “Well, I have to do it! If I’m going to get stronger, of course, I have to listen and follow directions.” That’s my dad — so compliant and always followed medical advice.
One day after physical therapy, he pulled me close and whispered, “I want you to thank the staff by serving them lunch. Not just any lunch — you will prepare this at home in your own kitchen. This will mean more coming from you this way.” And since dad’s DNA runs through me, how could I not comply? It made total sense — but I wasn’t sure about the menu. But dad was. He proceeded to give me the details of exactly what to prepare. Traditional Filipino food! But of course, Dad! My culinary fingers were breaking into a sweat.
Dad comes from a family of ‘hearty appetites,’ with the men knowing how to twirl those ladles and spoons just as skillfully as the women. I could not disappoint. Like everything else my dad instructs me to do, I follow through.
“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12 New Living Translation
The day I showed up with food carriers, utensils, plates and beverages, the physical therapy staff was so appreciative. It was an unexpected expression of gratitude that was from the heart of my father. And he was proud to see it come to fruition.
I spent time with my dad in a manner that was not anticipated. We shared about how GOD was comforting him while he was away from home — and dad reassured me of his trust in his Lord and Savior. At times when the medication would cause him to seizure, we prayed out loud calling on Jesus to steady the effects and to bring calm to a nerve-wrecking situation. And of course, Jesus showed up and settled the storm.
When our sons graduated from college within days of each other, I shared the photographs of them in cap and gown on my iPad so that dad could see the images with greater ease. Seeing the joy on his face was priceless when he said, “They finally did it! And I lived to see it! Thank you, GOD.” It seemed to wash away the weariness of finding a parking space.
Dad spent his 87th birthday in that nursing rehabilitation facility. On that day, I surprised him in physical therapy. And to my surprise, he showed me his accomplishment in walking with no assistance. My mind replays those scenes like a movie reel.
If you would have told me that those days were in my journey, I probably would have looked at you with a raised eyebrow.
When we had made the conscious decision to choose that option, there was no question of whether to visit him. The minor adjustments to my schedule seemed insignificant in the big scope of things.
I didn’t grow up in the same house as my dad — that’s another story. But I knew he loved me. The times we would spend together, he was never shy about giving advice about life and important matters. We had a bond and he knew I would be there for him. Somehow I knew that his handing down of wisdom was his way of providing protection for me. He always believed that wisdom was powerful when applied well.
Those 100 days with dad are mine to cherish forever until I meet up with him again in Paradise.
I know that there are some of you out there that have had some ‘out of the norm’ living situations with your fathers. Maybe you didn’t know your biological father, but someone else stepped up for the responsibility. Maybe your mother fulfilled both roles of mother and father to you. Maybe your father disappeared before you could learn to make important decisions about the type of man you should marry. Maybe your father breathed his last breath before you knew how to tie your shoes.
But GOD …
Has a way to heal all of that. It will require you extend yourself to reaching for the Hand that created you and will place you in loving hands as you work through the pain and hurt. There are professional people that love with the heart of Jesus and have skin so they can help you feel whole again in yours.
The memories I have are different from yours. Some of you have closets filled with treasured memories from as far back as you can remember. Some of us look for the ones that we have and cherish those.
I choose to honor my father because GOD gave him to me and me to him. While our relationship was not typical, we learned that we both love the same GOD. I know that it pained him not to have me in his house everyday as I grew up. We worked through some of those memories.
Sometimes GOD blesses us in ways that only hurt and pain could yield the abundance of grace and mercy. It was the case in my relationship with my dad. Through the awkwardness, like learning how to ride a two-wheeled bike for the first time, we smoothed things out until the ‘wobbliness’ faded away. So when it came time for his 100-day journey with me, we were at that point of hopeful anticipation with each visit.
If this causes you to think twice about a relationship — if you’ve been on the fence about mending the pot holes — stop now and pray, Friend.
I’ve lived enough of life to say with confidence that when GOD Whispers into your soul, you know that it is His Voice. Time to heal.
Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” Hebrews 3:15 New Living Translation
I don’t know how far I could walk if each one of those 100-days represented a path. But each step resulted in a major highway of connection from start to finish. Looking back over my shoulder I know that it was all worthwhile. The time was relatively short in comparison to many other undertakings. And so is this life.
This Father’s Day my earthly father is spending it with our Heavenly Father. And it’s the first of those. I’m choosing to honor both of them in this manner: to keep the legacy of Christ alive in all my endeavors. Choosing to leave some of those footprints on other paths with other people. I know my dad would be exceedingly proud. And I know my Heavenly Father smiles back at me.
Could this be your cue to begin your own 100-days journey to reconciliation, bridge building or relationship strengthening?
I urge you, Sister, to pause and pray about what is making your heart beat faster right now. The relationship of primary importance is the one with your Creator GOD. Once you’ve settled that, the best is yet to come. Let Him take you by the hand and lead you — if you happen to find yourself on a 100-day journey of your own (it could be one day, 10-days, 365-days), trust Him in and for that journey. He won’t ever abandon you in it. Get your shoes on and get ready!
I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary