In the Still Night, Words to a Son

It was almost Mothers’ Day, early Saturday morning when it is darkest, just before dawn, in the still night. It was his posture that spoke more than words but, it was those words that for over a decade now have rolled across my mind haunting my own early morning hours. My Dad looked beat up. Years of uncontrolled high blood pressure, previous heart attacks and strokes had taken their toll. In my mind’s eye I see him sitting there, hunched forward in the easy chair, elbows on his knees, eyes looking toward the floor. I sat across from him, called there by Mom who now was trying to get a little rest. The only sound was the loud ticking of the clock. Then he looked at me, barely raising his head and he said those words that, again this morning, quite early, they came to me again. Unable to sleep, too tired to read, it was again in the still night. Yesterday would have been my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 90. I’m glad he is in heaven and not here suffering like he did.

And this morning, as I sat in my own easy chair; I was feeling a bit beat up. I noticed that I was sitting forward, elbows on my knees, staring down at the floor. And then I heard the words again… as clear as they were then. “Son, I don’t think I’m going to  make it through this one.” For over ten years I have held on to those words, telling only a few close family. It seemed like the sound of fear, but it made no sense. My Dad, in my eyes had never been afraid of anything. I knew that he knew Christ and was certain of his heavenly home. The idea that he was fearful was unsettling; but, yet there was no fear in his voice when he said it. It was just a statement of fact.

Twelve years, just shy a few days have gone by and now as I sit here in the dark  it is finally clear. As if the light came on and I could understand exactly what Dad was saying. You see, I am the father of a grown son now and if he and I were playing out this same scene, I would say the same thing, for the same reason. It was not an expression of fear or even dread. My Dad was saying those words to try to prepare me. They were for me. He wanted me to understand and get ready for the fact that he was going on to his heavenly home. He wanted to make sure that I knew that ahead of time so I could be ready. My Dad was soon to die and he was concerned about how it would affect me and he wanted to prepare me. If I am amazed by anything it is that it has taken me a dozen years to figure it out. Thank God for the still night.

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