When the call came during Regis and Kelly in 2004 that November morning, I wasn’t prepared for what my Mother was going to say. I guess we never are. Her words, “Dad died this morning,” came over the telephone line. I immediately lost it crying, “I didn’t have a chance to say good-bye.”
He’d been going through dialysis for a couple of years and a few days before wasn’t feeling well. I called and we talked. I’d just had a book come out and he was an avid reader and we were discussing that. The next day I told my sister-in-law that maybe I should fly to Michigan for a visit, she said he was doing better and had gone up to my brother’s hunting camp with him. They’d left that morning. I knew that my Dad and Mom would be coming to Florida shortly and I’d see him then.
How happy I was that he’d had that day together with my brother, he’d felt so good. The next morning during a dialysis session after my brother dropped him off; he’d suffered a heart attack and died immediately.
When we returned to Michigan, a service that our son an ordained minister and now serving on the mission field officiated at, we waited for the deep snowfall that hit the area to melt, to make the trip for the burial. The sun wasn’t shinning and the graves of so many family members I knew had passed, were dusted with a light snow. How often I’d gone with my grandmother on sunny summer days to attend family plots. Now Dad’s grave was among them.
I know as a Christian he isn’t in that grave and immediately his soul went to heaven and was with the Lord. I felt cheated. I wanted him to live longer. I knew he was in pain, and no doubt he was ready to go. I was selfish. But I just wanted to have one more conversation with him.
Back in South Carolina the simplest mention of his name, or television show, especially some commercials brought tears to my eyes. I had a lot of time for reflection and mourning. I also had a lot of pity parties with myself! I was so glad I’d written a letter to my parents a couple of years before to tell them how much they meant to me….memories over the years and how good they were as parents. They were from a generation that didn’t show outward gestures or hugs and kisses, but in latter years they’d started to with grandchildren and others.
The Valentine’s Day following my Dad’s death I received a letter I assumed was from my Mother…it was her hand-writing on the envelope. When I opened it there was a computer made Valentine, written and signed by Dad. What a sweet surprise! I feel the Lord allowed that at just the right time, and how grateful to get that God nudge that Dad had been thinking of me. Mom said she’d just come across it when she went back to Florida that next year.
I still miss Dad and wish we’d had a chance to talk and share more. I feel blessed by the memories of so much we did together. Scenes of sledding in the winter, playing my Ricky Nelson 45’s and he’d remind me to turn down the volume; my first dance when Dad showed me how to be a good dance partner, and walking me down the aisle on my wedding day. Like an avalanche they tumble down, and they’ll always be with me.
When Father's Day approaches, it still hurts to walk by
the aisles with all the cards for this special day. I won’t be able send him a special one, and telephone him to wish him a good day. I can thank the Lord for giving me a Dad that was a good provider and cared enough to be at my activities and support me, whatever they were. I may still shed tears at times, there’s so much to tell him. But they’re tears of joy because of the love of a caring and special Dad!
~ Diane Dean White ~
Copyright © 2012
All Rights Reserved
Diane is the author of Beach Walks and Carolina in the Morning. Her stories have appeared in a number of magazines and books. She is a member of the ACFW and has a column in an online Christian tween ministry, samiesisters.com. She is working on her third book and frequently contributes to other publications. She is the wife of forty years in July, to Stephen, and they are the parents of three grown children and three grand-gals. She and her husband reside in the sunshine state of Florida. You may visit Diane's website at: www.DianeDeanWhite.com