Me at the hospital.
He fell and broke his hip yesterday. He’s 88.
I was thunderstruck by his declaration today when I came to the hospital. He’s never been a gung-ho Christian. He didn’t even go to church. But he confessed to be a Christian. He said he was envious of Mom, who died quickly, suddenly of a massive heart attack. He said he was ready to go — even, he wanted to go.
Of course, I argued that such feelings were foolishness. We — my brother and I and our wives and families — don’t want him to go. But he sees no point of lingering with the body breaking down. He says he never imagined living for so long.
A year ago, he was hospitalized, and it was a wake-up call for me to neglect my professional duties some to dedicate more time to him. I started visiting once a week. I’ve learned things I never knew: about his time in the Army in Korea post WW2, his studies at Berkeley, his previous girlfriends. He’s tipped me off to great stories about Christian golfers and tennis players that I’ve parlayed into articles for God Reports. The man I didn’t have much of a relationship with since I was a youth and he didn’t talk to me began to figure centrally in my life.
When my mom died 10 years ago, I had an incredible peace, not just because she was a Christian but because I felt I had learned so many lessons from her that I was putting into practice in my life. From Mom, I learned to love and serve God above everything. She was a chaplain in the Sylmar juvenile hall, and I was a missionary in Guatemala.
For the first time ever, my dad seems to have gotten excited about the service I render to the Lord. I was telling him (before his fall) about a student in my class that came to our high school from the public system, where he was a trouble-maker, a fighter and who knows what else. Now, he’s reading the literature and making intelligent contributions to the class. My secret educational tool is to believe in the kids. Maybe no one ever believed in him before. Now he is responding.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen it register on Dad’s face that this work, though miserably remunerated, is gloriously valuable. Could it be that facing eternity, the man who hammered financial stability is finally understanding true value?
No doubt, my dad will recover from this second hospitalization. He won’t like the transition for physical therapy at the nursing home. But he’ll probably get home.
But he won’t be with us forever. Will I have learned from him everything I needed to?
Posted in death, mortality, heaven, Financial Talk
Tagged Christianity, dad, elderly, Faith, family, father-son relationship, fatherhood, fear of death, golden years, inspiration, Jesus, man, paternity, thoughts
I took him to his favorite restaurant Saturday.
I’m getting close to my dad. A week ago, he was rushed to the hospital from the supermarket with what turned out to be nothing. Sick with the flu, he felt like he was going to fall.
He’s 87, so I felt like this is the red flag I’ve been waiting for to take more care of him. My dad and I are so different. I was a missionary. He lived the American Dream. I love people; he’s a recluse. My life revolved around extending God’s kingdom; his life revolved around HDTV. I was closer to my mom. She’s in Heaven now.
I’ve been sleeping out in the San Fernando Valley to keep him company. I’ve been driving him on his errands. I’m happy that finally I’m able to honor him with this service.
While I was a pastor in Guatemala for 16 years, Matt. 15:5-6 befuddled me. You say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is “devoted to God,” they are not to “honor their father or mother” with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition NIV. That is what I was doing: I couldn’t help Dad and Mom with either money or service because I was serving God in Guatemala.
God brought me back to the States four years ago. I’m only an assistant pastor, so I’m freer now. God orchestrated everything so that I could honor my dad.
I had things to do, but my oldest son suggested we play soccer. He’s almost 17, almost off to college where I won’t be seeing him.
When we were missionaries in Guatemala, I was almost always too busy to spend much time with him. The tyranny of the urgent destroys what’s truly important.
Sons and daughters need dad more than money. God wants me to win my family to Christ before winning others. If I am so busy winning others to Christ, if I am something of an absentee father, I will have failed in my mission in life.
So I closed my laptop and changed for a quick-moving game of futsal. In soccer there are piano players — those who have delicate touch and quickness — and piano movers — hulking player who bust through defenses. Rob’s both.
The teams are always my younger son and I against Rob. Even though we are two against one, Rob always wins.
Then a friend, Lisa, came along. Since we were losing, she came on our team. Still Rob was winning. But we kept fighting. My recent trips to the gym have helped me develop more leg muscles and I can keep up with Rob’s starts and stops, his spins, the jukes. Just stay goalside and block the shot. Don’t try to take the ball from him.
Hosea and I are playing better than usual. We are actually passing and combining nicely with Lisa. Oddly, we conjure some decent finishing. It is tied 8-8. It is growing dark.
Finally, another quick one-two pass and the ball slides through the chair legs (our goal). We are winning 9-8.
“It’s too dark to keep playing, Rob,” I say. “Let’s get dinner.”
Ha! This is how I win! I call the game off right when we are in the rare moment of being up one point! I take a shower and get ready for Spanish service. I am exuberant. I can’t remember the last time Hosea and I beat Rob.
Sons need a dad. Drop your work.