Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Farewell My Father

 
By now I am sure that many of you will have heard that in the early hours of Saturday morning, my mum lost her best friend, my sister and I lost an amazing dad and my daughters lost a loving and doting grandpa (or Gong Gong, as they called him in Chinese).  My beloved dad, about whom I posted only a few short weeks ago, unexpectedly lost his battle with cancer, dying peacefully in his sleep at home.

While the grief is still raw and sometimes almost incapacitating for me, I wanted to put down my thoughts about my dad as a tribute to him because I know that I will not have the courage to share about how much he means to me at his thanksgiving service on Friday and cry in front of what I expect to be a large crowd of people.  I can, however, handle crying over the laptop while I type these words from my heart.

I have always believed my dad to be a godly, humble and amazing man, but it is only now, after his passing, that I truly see how much he impacted everyone around him as my family and I receive outpourings of love, condolences and good memories about dad from the many people who loved him as a friend, colleague and/or mentor.  So many of dad's friends, fellow church members and colleagues have sent us such beautiful letters telling of how much he meant to them and made the effort to befriend and encourage them.  I want to thank each of them for sharing with me just how much you will also miss my dad.

From a daughter's perspective, my first impressions of my dad were of how much he loved my mum and made the effort to take care of her and us kids.  Every evening my dad would call mum from work to say that he was headed home for the day and that he would see her soon.  And when he arrived home, one of the first things he would do would be to head to mum and give her a peck on the lips.  There were other things he did to show his love for mum too, but you cannot underestimate how much of an impact his little signs of love and his way of living had on me as an impressionable child!

As I grew older and got to know my dad more as a person rather than just as my "dad", I swore that I would not marry a man like him because he was just such a complete dag who had no style and was a little old-fashioned and geeky.  Shallow, I know, but that is how my teenage mind worked!  But when I married my best friend, Malcolm, I realised with a bit of shock that I had done the very thing that I had sworn not to do, I had married a man who was a lot like my dad.  Like my dad, my beloved husband is a bit of a dag and a lot of a geek.  But, the important personal characteristics I saw in my dad - humility, intelligence, compassion and caring for others, love, faithfulness, kindness and most importantly a strong faith in God and understanding of his word, the Bible - have stuck with me and influenced my choice of life partner.

Another strong memory I have of my dad is of his wicked, and very dry, sense of humour and the constant "dad jokes" and comments that my sister and I endured.  He had a way of delivering comments that would have people, including, sometimes, those of us who knew him well, staring at him in confusion as they tried to work out if he was joking or being completely serious.  I was an accident-prone child (and am now an accident-prone adult) and often asked for bandaids (because they cure all childhood hurts!) but my dad, being ever practical, would examine my wounds and refuse to give me a bandaid unless it was a gaping wound gushing copious amounts of blood.  If I whinged non-stop about a stubbed toe or banged funny bone (which I did quite frequently), dad would say, "Well, just chop it off and then it won't hurt any more, will it?"  As a parent, I now see the wisdom in his bandaid judgements and the humour behind his "just chop it off" comments, but it was hugely irritating at the time!

Once my sister and I became teenagers and insisted on buying our own clothes and accessories (with mum and dad's money, of course!), dad unleashed his wit on our choice of clothes and shoes.  Clothes he deemed to be too skimpy were always greeted with, "Did that shrink in the wash?!" and I remember returning from a shopping expedition with a mildly expensive pair of sandals and having dad exclaim something along the lines of "You paid WHAT for a dried out strip of leather?!"

But in spite of all his comments, my dad always happily provided for us, paying for music lessons, expensive musical instruments, school excursions and sports equipment and uniforms.  He was often frugally-minded, but he was only frugal with himself.  While he owned clothes which were almost as old as I was, he was always generous with his family and friends.  He was generous with not just his material wealth, but also with his time, always showing interest in people's lives and goings on.  One example of this was his little notebook in which he wrote down all the funny stories mum told him about  my two "monkeys" whenever she babysat or came to visit us while he was at work.  Another example were the many emails he sent to me full of links to interesting scientific papers, articles on child raising, photos he'd taken of the kids, etc, etc.  He used to send me so many emails, which I did not always read, that I joked about dad being my own personal email spammer.  And now I realise with sadness that this is something I will no longer have and will miss.

The way my dad led his life in the last six months leading up to his death has also been an example to me and, I hope, to many others too.  There has been much recent debate about "dying with dignity" and "the right to choose", but I want to show you an example of both true living and true dying with dignity and integrity. From the time he first felt his symptoms of illness and had uneasy thoughts that it might be cancer, to his diagnosis and through every stage of his treatment, he never ceased praying to God asking for comfort, strength and healing.  He also never stopped communicating with his friends and family and enquiring after others, even though the pain he suffered made it hard for him to sit at the computer.  I have to admit that if I had been in dad's shoes, I would probably have given in to despair and spent my time moping or ranting, but he continued to send encouraging emails, letters and helpful web links on Facebook to everyone right up until the night he died.

He also spent the last few months of his life completing his tax return and trying to sort out important paperwork so that mum would not have to carry that burden.  In his unassuming way, he prepared for the eventuality of his passing, but he never sought to hasten it, choosing instead to keep trusting God and to keep living his life to the best of his ability.  And so I truly believe that my dad could say, in the words of Paul:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

14 comments:

  1. What a beautiful tribute to your father. And what wonderful memories you will have because of the legacy he left. May you & your family know God's peace at this time.x

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  2. That was beautiful Deb.
    Have someone read it out for you on Friday, because for sure you're not going to make it past the first paragraph.
    Hugs.

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  3. The passing of a Father is a hard thing. Your words are full of love and admiration for your Dad. I know you hurt. I hurt for you.

    But let me tell you sis, our Dad's are in heaven sharing the beauty that Jesus prepared for us when we meet our heavenly Father.

    I am thankful your Dad was and IS a Christian.

    Praying for peace within your spirit as your prepare for Friday.

    In Christian love

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  4. Deb,
    That is an amazing look back at a life of a Godly man. I appreciate your sharing it with your Etsy friends too. Hugs and prayers as you have many days ahead when the pain will be very real. Know that in time you will never forget him but the ache will get softer and the memories will be easier to enjoy.
    Blessings.
    Becky K.

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  5. This is an absolutely beautiful post. I was in tears myself a few times while reading your loving tribute to your Dad. Praying for peace that surpasses all understanding for you and your family as you go thru this.

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  6. How touching. Praying for peace and comfort for you and your family in your time of loss.

    Sonja

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  7. Deb, thank you so much for sharing a tiny peek into the life of your precious Dad. What a winderful inheritance you have in this precious father-daughter relationship. I know it hurts so much right now but the comforts of the Lord will cover over this wound with His extravagant love.

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  8. WOW - what a tribute to a man that was obviously loved dearly by his family and friends. What a legacy to leave behind!! My thoughts and prayers are with you all as you prepare to say your final goodbyes to this very special Father!!

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  9. Deb - this is the most beautiful tribute. You and your family are so blessed to have had a dad/husband/grandpa who was so loving.

    May God and His angels be with you always.

    ♥♥♥
    Sue

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  10. What a lovely post Deb! Your father sounded like he was a wonderful man! Praying for your family as you live life without him, and especially for your Mum.

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  11. All the Best to you an your family Deb. Lovely tribute.

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  12. This is a beautiful, beautiful tribute! What a lovely father! Love & prayers, Julie

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  13. oh Deb - what a beautiful post...its the little things that we remember that make life so rich and meaningful and your dad sounds like a wonderful Father, Friend, Husband for your mum and grandfather too...my thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time but may the beautiful memories help you through, he will always be there beaming down with pride.

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  14. Sounds like you had a very loving father and very good relationship with him. It was a nice post to read. Best wishes.

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