Not One Single Minute

by Audrey on August 28th, 2015

​You never know when it will be the last time.  Things that have been a part of your life for as long as you can remember will end.  At some point, you will have your last experience, your last bite, your last laugh, your last visit, your last tear, your last breath.
It's been almost a year since my daddy was welcomed into heaven.  I'm coming up on the anniversary of my last two visits with him in this life. The first of the last was at the beginning of September.  He was so energetic.  It was such a fun, good time.  I didn't know it was to be the last time I visited him in the home where I grew up.  I didn't know that and I didn’t know it would be the last time I would hear his voice.  

The last of the last was just barely over two weeks later and it was just sad.  He was already in the hospital by the time I got there.  God gave sweet time to all of us who loved him.  Mama, my sister, and brothers were close and overwhelmed with the sorrow we shared. Yet ...

​Losing my daddy in this life has exposed sad parts of my soul that I didn’t know existed.  Death in this life is so final.  Having him here is all I have ever known. 
 
So yes, it's been almost a year since my last two visits with him on this earth.  But we will visit again.
 
I've thought about many things as I've walked this grief road.  My mind has relived childhood memories.  I have felt  hollowness.  Yet  God has made my heart happy as He has allowed me to visit often with Mama and recall visits with Daddy.
 
When Carl and I and our little family moved from Texas to South Carolina 25 years ago, I had no idea the blessing it would be to live just two hours from my parents.
 
I could drive up and see them and be back in the same day. I made that drive often as my children were growing up – some times more than other times.  Sometimes I did it on a whim, sometimes on a plan.  I don’t regret one single trip.
 
And because they lived so close to the Interstate, I could drop in unannounced like when I was on my way to other places or on my way back from other places.  Just stop in. Just knock. Surprise!
 
There was a time I took my youngest son and one of his friends to see them. My dad joked around with them. My mom made fried potato skins and they both told them all about their old school days.
 
And when my youngest boys were still at home, the three of us made many trips to see my parents. We'd spend a night .... or two  .... or three.  Both my younger boys developed a closeness with my parents during those years.
 
I don't regret. One. Single. Minute.

And here’s the thing.   Holidays and family gatherings  are terrific!  It’s so great to be with siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews. I loved (and still do love) those times.
 
But ..... I really, really loved the times when it was just mama and daddy and me. And I really, really loved the times when it was mama, daddy, me, and sometimes one or two or sometimes all five of my children.

In the last three years when my daddy "got down" more consistently – I was there more consistently. I drove up sometimes for a day, sometimes to spend a night or two.   I made a conscious effort to go at least twice a month - sometimes more and every once in a while, less.  I don’t regret one single trip.

My only sister and I would let each other know too ... if we were going.  We'd try to meet there and visit.

On those times when it was just me, I had time to listen to Daddy.  Just sit with him and listen.
 
Unhurried. Sitting on his bed with him - looking at old westerns, discussing politics, actors he liked, watching infomercials. Talking about the Lord.

There were times we said nothing. There were times he talked about what I was like as a child and what I was like in high school. He reminded me how stubborn I was.  Sometimes both he and I would whisper an apology or two about things over the years.

Me? My disobedience. My ungratefulness.

Him? He told me he “reckoned he had teased me too much through the years about my Yankee husband.” I still remember his face and his words when he said with a grin, "I guess I just need to quit that.”
 
I told him how most of the time it was quite funny  . . . oh my, how I'd love to hear him tease me about my Yankee husband right now.

I often told Daddy how grateful I was that he was my dad. Did I ever tell him when I was growing up?    I just took for granted that he provided for me, that he made me sit in that swivel rocker when I was being a brat, that he protected me, that he was there.

So in these last three years, I made up for lost time. I told him how grateful I was that he led me to Jesus Christ. I told him how much I loved my happy childhood.

Good times. 
 
One of my visits, well, I just didn’t want to forget it.
 
I wrote it down as soon as I got home.  This is what I wrote (I may have gotten a few details wrong but Mama can let me know) :
 
There we were - sitting in the room next to my 80-year-old Daddy and I asked him about the early years.  Not the early years in general. And not his childhood or teen years.  I asked him about his early married years – those years of his becoming a husband, becoming a dad, and what happened in his life for him to become so intentional about his faith.
 
He began to tell me. And as he struggled with some of the minute details of dates and places, we called Mama into the room.  Together, they told me their story.
​When Mama and Daddy first got married, she was in nursing school and at that time, there was no housing for married women.  Before her marriage, she lived in the “dorm,” but then had to find a different place to live.
 
I imagined my mom – the beauty that she was (and still is) – as a young bride.  I imagined her so in love with my handsome daddy and he with her.  It was the early ‘50s.  My dad’s job was two hours away from the nursing school where she was a student.  So together, they found a bedroom/bath rental in someone’s home. 
 
They both, as they were telling their story to me, almost in unison, said the address of the house.  They looked at each other and suddenly I knew they were whisked away to that time period.
 
If this were a movie, the color would fade to black and white,  Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable would play in the background, and images of a woman with a hat and bobbed hair alongside a young man with a white starched shirt and combed back wavy hair would appear. 
 
But in this moment in 2013, I saw the look in the eyes of two people still in love and as they continued to tell the story, I felt like I was watching that movie. It was like they were alone and I really shouldn’t be there – but I was and I was captivated.
 
I was witnessing a steadfast “I-choose-love” so strong.  I was witnessing a chosen love – the kind of love that had stood the test of time, stood the test of many trials, and had embraced the joys and sorrows of nearly 64 years together.  And this “I-choose-love” was still standing.
 
Their new place was across the street from the hospital – right in town – within walking distance of everything she needed.  This was important because my dad commuted to his job during the week and came home for the weekends.
 
Later, they discovered they were going to be parents.  My older brother was soon to be born and they needed another place to live.  After some searching, they found a rental house with two bedrooms. 
 
They talked about that little house – then my dad looked at my mother and with a slight smile, he said, “I can still see him climbing over the fence.” 
 
I was wondering, “Who? Who did he see climbing over the fence?”  But my mom knew, “I can too,” she said.   And it was then I knew … they were seeing my brother, their little blonde boy.
 
And again they looked at each other and then my mom looked down.  I don’t know what she was thinking at the moment.
 
But to them, I knew it was like yesterday – so clear – so vivid.   And it was like I could see him too.  I imagined a fence I had never seen and a little tow-headed boy in suspenders trying to scale it.
 
My dad continued, “He liked to play with the little boy who lived in the house behind us – oh and we were friendly with the family – they were a good family.” 
 
My mom added, “Yes, we built the fence to keep the children safe, to keep them from wandering.”  And then she smiled a far-away annoyed smile,  “But somehow he managed to climb the fence.  But neighbors, we helped each other, and it was safe.”
 
It was during this time in their lives that, as a young couple, they traveled ten or so miles to go to the church where my mom grew up.  As they talked, Daddy said, “We just went to preaching.” 
 
(I thought about this for a moment.  I’d always known my parents to be at church for everything and to never be late for anything.)
 
And at that moment my mom added, “And we were always late.”
 
It’s funny but you never think of your parents as being young once.  I mean they are my parents.  They have always been adults.  They’ve always been there.  They’ve always been responsible.
 
Well, one Sunday, when they were late as usual, my mom was so frustrated she blurted out, “I hate being late!!  Why do we always have to be late?”
 
At that moment, they were coming up to a crossroads and Daddy decided to turn right and go to a church that was closer to where they lived.
 
They both recalled how when they got to this random church, a man greeted them.  He helped them with the children, took them to meet people, and everyone made them feel so welcomed.
 
My mom then said, “It was like we were the most important people in the world.”
 
Mama and Daddy started going to this church every Sunday and they not only went to “just preaching,” but they attended Bible classes and other church events. 
 
Mama looked at me, “And they gave me a baby shower when I was pregnant with you.  I had never had a baby shower.  They showed so much love to me.  Then when I was pregnant again so quickly after having you, they gave another shower - except this time it was for me.  I received bath soaps and pretty things - I was so overwhelmed.”
 
She continued, “We loved that church.  And the people?  They acted like it was an honor to take care of and teach y’all - our children.”
 
It was there, in that church, where my dad got serious about his faith.
​He told me how he had become a Christian when he was younger but as he grew older he became, in his own words, a little apathetic.  But seeing Christ lived out in the people of this church made an impact on him.  Hearing the Bible taught at this church made an impact.  And the older men?  They took an interest in this young husband and father. 
 
My parents never forgot it.
 
Then …
 
My dad got tired and as he did, my mom moved from the chair to sit on the bed next to him and she held his hand.  He drifted off to sleep.  I didn’t hear any more of the story that day. 
 
But I saw an “I choose love.”  ​I witnessed it.  And I don’t regret one single minute.
 


Posted in Biblical Womanhood, Marriage    Tagged with no tags


1 Comments

Jenna - September 21st, 2015 at 6:37 PM
This story is beautiful. I read with tears and thought of my own sweet Daddy. I am reminded to never take my time with him for granted. Thanks for taking the time to share something so dear to your heart. God is near you and he loves you so deeply. Praying you feel the comfort of his Spirit moment by moment as you miss your father.
Jenna Sherard

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