For My Father… (printed on back of his tribute program)

The following is a blog I wrote about my father on February 11 of last year.  I now have an addition to make…

 I’ll Watch The Snow With You

My mom and I had a discussion about my father today. For those of you who do not know, my father has a condition called “corticobasal degeneration”. It is, in a nutshell, similar to Alzheimer’s and is every bit as cruel and heartbreaking. It is neurological and irreversible. Two words I have grown to hate in the last year. We began to notice that something was not right with my father about 3 years ago when he began walking almost as if in slow motion and would stand with his arms drawn up into his sides. As time progressed, we noticed that he was having trouble remembering little things. Fast forward to the present…

Today my father doesn’t always know who we are. He is confused much of the time and the most painful part for us as his family is the feeling of complete and utter helplessness just having to sit by and watch this happen to someone you so dearly love. My father is not in any sort of physical pain and for that I will be eternally thankful. He is, unfortunately, keenly aware that something is not right with him and I know it frightens him.

Some days dad doesn’t know where he lives and some days he can’t recognize who we are. The first day I witnessed this happen at his house was just a few months ago. My dad couldn’t name one of Jessica’s children and in that tiny instant I felt like the whole world fell apart. We try as hard as we can not to let him see us cry, although it isn’t always possible. I can’t speak for Jessica or my mom, but I try to save my sadness for the privacy of my car or my home. We want dad to know that we are all okay and that we are always going to be here for him. We’ve told him this many, many times. I’ve often thought about how terrifying it must be to have your memory slowly leave you. Years and years of family trips, experiences, life- just trickle out little by little. I can’t really let myself think about it for too long because the feelings are just too overwhelming.

My mom told me today that she saw my dad standing in the hallway looking through the glass pane of their front door. She said that he turned and looked up the stairs and shouted out, “Amanda, come down here! Look, it’s snowing!” My mom said, “I’m sure he thought you were a little girl and still lived at home with us.” I don’t know where my dad was at that moment in his own mind, but I want to make a promise to him. This is the best way I know to express it:

I’ll watch the snow with you, Dad

No matter where you are.

I know sometimes inside your mind

It feels you’ve traveled far.

I’ll watch the snow with you, Dad

However you see me-

A woman grown with children now

Or pig-tailed girl of three.

I’ll watch the snow with you, Dad

And if you forget my name,

Please don’t feel sad or think I’m mad

I love you just the same.

I’ll watch the snow with you, Dad

Wherever you may be.

I’ll watch the snow with you, Dad

I’m just glad you’re here with me.

Addendum: On the evening of Tuesday, January 4, 2011 Jesus decided it was time to let my father come home. It was the saddest, most beautiful, and most victorious moment I’ve ever experienced.  The following day several family members went to the funeral home to see dad one last time.  The moment we stepped out of the car our Heavenly Father, in the most breathtaking fashion, sent down a beautiful and gentle snowfall.  Snow had not been predicted until the weekend.  My mom and I held a private conversation inside and I whispered to her, “You know I wrote that poem for dad about watching the snow with him.”  She immediately responded, “Yes, Amanda, I thought about that too.  The only difference is this time you’re looking out at the snow and he’s looking down on it.” 

I thank the Lord that He gave us this sweet reminder.  We have been blessed that a lifetime of snowfalls will forever hold new significance. 

Thank You, Jesus. We love you so much, Dad. ~Amanda

Gentle Passage

I am realizing to some it may seem odd that I am up typing on the night that my father left this earth.  To me it is as natural as anything because expressing emotion through words has always been such an integral part of my life.

The most amazing event has occurred today.  At 8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 4 my father left this realm and found himself starring directly into the face of Jesus.  Today began like any other day and we all found ourselves excited at the prospect of a hospital bed being delivered to the home of my parents.  This bed, we had hoped, would provide him with a new level of comfort and that all along has been our primary goal for him.  Dad always wanted to be at home.  This is where he stayed.  Some people didn’t quite understand, that’s okay.  In the last year I have seen my mother invisibly put on a “superwoman” cape and do whatever necessary to see to it that my dad remained at home through his illness and tend to his every need.

Today, my dad decided- along with the Lord- that it was time for him to quit fighting.  There was no struggle.  We were enveloped by a circle of precious friends and we prayed and sang and talked to this man until he took his final breath.  It was peaceful.  God sent an angel named Jennah, our hospice nurse, to our home and she talked us through the start of the process.  We were told that we might have a few hours… a few days at the most, but the Lord’s timing took over.  My father was not in pain.  We feel truly blessed to have been a part of his process, his life, and the way it ended.

I can’t express in words adequately what it feels like to see the man who was your superman for all of your life looking so helpless and so weak.  I had privately prayed for weeks that the Lord’s will would be done and be done swiftly.  I defy anyone to tell me that God doesn’t answer prayer.

Today I’ve had two different things running through my head.  The first is the song “It is well with my soul”.  Friends, it truly is.  When you have the assurance that your loved one is a believer in Christ and you have no doubt whatsoever about his outcome, it covers you with the most amazing and unearthly peace.  We all knew where Tripp would be going.  No doubt about it.  How could we help but rejoice in his passing?  No more sickness.  No more confusion.  Only perfectly and miraculously ordained perfection.

As Jess and I were praying privately at his bedside I kept having two words swim through my mind…. “gentle passage”.  That is what we prayed for and that is exactly what we received.  We are so sad for what we have lost, but we are so REJOICING for what we know he has gained.  The Lord never failed us.  He never left us.  We continually felt completely covered by His blood and His grace.

Prayers continued for what felt like hours through his passing.  Mom prayed.  Jess prayed.  When he died, I said to the Lord that we claim victory in His name and rejoice that this servant of the Lord was now standing before Him.  The words kept repeating, “Thank you, Jesus…. thank you, Jesus… thank you, Jesus.”

We truly are blessed.  What an honor to be able to call myself the daughter of such a Godly man.  My dad loved the Lord.  His very purpose in life was to lead other to Christ.  This was a job he fulfilled unashamedly.  I have learned so much from this man.  I hope to be even just a glimmer of the example of Christ that he was.  So, although death comes with sadness we know that it is trumpeted by a jubilant sounding of GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST.

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