I always thought that my Daddy would live a long, long time. I thought he would be one of these wizened old men, running around, working and gardening and visiting and traveling. I thought that he would continue to have things to say for our church and that he would be a wellspring of counsel and encouragement to people in general, his family in particular.
I don’t know why he had to die at 76. Maybe it was the exposure to the insecticides and pesticides that he used on the farm that turned his skin yellow in the summer breezes when he sprayed his fields. They didn’t have the restrictions and warnings and even the protection then that they do now. He didn’t like to farm. The work was hard and so often things were unpredictable in the un-irrigated acres that were Fair Hope Farm. I suspect that he welcomed the chemicals that seemed to make life easier. It’s hard to farm with a two bottom plow and a two row cultivator. It was far easier than the horses that his Papa used to work the same fields through the Great Depression and the decades following, but the work was non-stop and even with the “modern conveniences” it was a grind.
When Daddy went to work at the Country Rest Home in the early 70’s, he was still a young man in his early 40’s. As a family, we were uncertain as to how this would work out and we actually tried to talk him out of it. He said that he would follow our wishes, but we knew that he desperately wanted something different than the farm. In the end, Daddy did what he wanted to do. (As he usually did!) There were challenges there, and he wasn’t always happy, but he had a dream, and he held on and he expanded his life beyond the confines of his business and he did well. Not only with the vision that made the Country Rest Home what it is today, but in things that involved relationships, church planting, people business and especially his six children, their spouses and his 27 grandchildren. He lived to see eight of those grandchildren married, and to hold some of his great grandchildren.
Yesterday, as I was contemplating where my life is now, and the fact that I have a book that we are ready to market, that Daniel and I are ready to celebrate 40 years together, the offspringin’s are coming home, and I turn 60 in two short months –it seemed like my mind is unable to shake thoughts of my Daddy.
What would he think?
What would he say?
Would he be proud of his girl?
He was such an encourager, and he often gave me reason to think thoughts way bigger than myself. I think he would be pleased. He wouldn’t know quite what to think about some of the stories. He would be surprised to find himself in some.
I don’t know what he would say, or think or do.
But I wish I did.
I wish I did.
I just never thought that one of the by products of this dream come true would be fresh grief over a loss that is 2799 days old.
Can he really be so long gone?
It feels so new.