As I write this I am in a relatives’ room at the hospital where my dad is being cared for. He has Pulmonary Fibrosis (scarring of the lung tissue) and pneumonia. Honestly, right now, it doesn’t look like he’s coming back from this. It’s three days before father’s day and I don’t think I’m going to have anyone to send a card to.
He’s been here for just over a week and his care has been first rate (don’t ever tell me the NHS doesn’t work, it’s brilliant). During that week I’ve spent a lot of time looking at numbers: blood oxygen levels, pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate etc. All these give the medical staff an idea of dad’s status and after a while even amateur like me pick up trends: what’s a good reading, what’s not.
Those numbers mean little really though. They define my dad’s health status but not my dad. The numbers that define my dad are 82 years of age, 3 children, 4 grandchildren, 2 sons in law, 1 daughter in law, 49 years of marriage to my mum, 9 years without her. There are other numbers: nieces, nephews and other family members and a host of other people who have essentially either been treated as family by my dad or (usually and) treated him as family. Hundreds of people whose lives have been touched by this man with a big heart.
The overwhelming number I encounter when I consider my dad is 1.
1 Saviour, 1 Lord, 1 faith, 1 way. For over 45 years my Dad has been a follower of Jesus. It is something he, and my mum, have encouraged me and my sisters in. I know for some the idea of faith in Jesus is a mystery or even a joke but sitting in this room, waiting, I see my dad in a different light, through different eyes, eyes I cannot imagine not seeing him through. Eyes that see his long life and long life of faith and smile. For my dad following Jesus was never a crutch it was a choice and over time became a necessary part of his life. From the moment he made the decision to follow Jesus he did not compartmentalise his faith. Rather than create a place for Jesus in his life, he up and moved his life into Jesus. That may not make sense to you. That’s okay I’m not trying to explain it. It is just the best way I can describe my dad.
My dad has and ever will be the greatest example to me of being a husband, a father and a man and of being all that within being a follower of Jesus. I’ll miss him but that’s fine. I believe we’ll meet again. Even if you think I’m delusional it doesn’t matter because my life has been so enriched by my dad that he will always be with me. I choose to believe we’ll meet again not because it comforts me but because it’s part of my faith and I wouldn’t be without it even if I have to be without my dad, for a while.
Update: a few hours after I wrote this my Dad passed away. I am both sad and relieved and grateful for all the support and love being shown to me and my family.
Thanks Dad. Sleep well. Love you. Always.