Friday, April 29, 2011

Dad's Photo Album

It is Thursday afternoon, April 28th, 2011. Once again, I am back with my Dad at his bedside during this final vigil. After staying with, and watching, him throughout the night, the morning-shift team, (consisting of my wife and mother), arrived and made me go get some sleep. It has been a long time since I have had a completely sleepless night – and those few hours of sleep this morning were refreshingly welcome.

As I sit here, I am looking at Dad’s collection of photo albums. One of them, in particular, has caught my interest. It is an album of “friends.” As I turn the over-filled pages, I see faces that I haven’t seen in years. Leo Upton, Sam Cagle, Winifred Black, Glen Harvey, Carl Adams, Gordon Mallory, James Larson, Terry Black, Jonathon Cupoli, Robert Bibb, Bob Baglin… and so many more. All of them, in this one book, are Ministers, Pastors and Missionaries. Some of whom have already passed-on before him.

The interesting thing to me, however, is that on every page, and most of the pictures, Dad has left a hand-written “Sticky-note Story” describing whom the photo is of, perhaps with the occasion or event noted, also. Out of dozens and dozens of photographs, a few of them have an even greater distinction, one that sets them apart from the rest. At the bottom of the sticky-note, Dad paid his highest compliment.

He simply wrote this one word: “FRIENDS.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Afternoon & the Afterlife

The Sun is smiling today, in a cloudless sky of technicolor blue. Birds are chirping joyfully as the wind imposes it's will, gently, but insistently, upon the rustling branches of the trees. It is a beautiful Spring day -- being absorbed and appreciated from the Box Seats of Dad's room as I peer into the colorful world that is just beyond the glass in the peaceful confines of the backyard.

The bedroom blinds are open to the simple spectacle of nature that is unmatched by anything that can be produced by the hands of man. Dad has his head turned toward this great theater of life, featuring today's unique production, commercial-free, courtesy of the Creator. There is a far-away look in his eyes and eternity in his heart. He is still here, yet...

As I deeply exhale a cleansing breath, I realize this special place has a name.

It's called peace.

What a gift.

-Tim Smith

Torrance, California, on Thursday, April 28th at 3 O'clock in the afternoon.

Watching and Waiting

It's past one o'clock in the morning. I'm at my parent's house, sitting in my father's room. Gospel music is playing through his television which has the volume turned down. My wife is here as is my sister and mother -- they're all sleeping, worn-out. We are on an around the clock vigil for my 81 year-old father who is nearing the end of his life's journey on this earth. He has been on home care for the past couple of months and last week was put on hospice care.

There is a certain finality to "hospice" which emotionally hit home with me today as the nurse, quite matter-of-factly, apprised us that Dad would most likely pass tonight. That news affected all of us and turned today (actually yesterday, now) into an extremely taxing day for the entire family. A day of tears and laughter, singing and praying, worship and worry, memories and mysteries, faith and family -- a day unlike any other that I have experienced. I am just thankful for the grace of God, by which I stand.

So here I am, last man standing. Well, sitting, actually. Doing whatever is needed to help make Dad more comfortable. Praying constantly for him, talking to him and just basically loving on this great man who has "fought a good fight, and finished his course."

The closing of this chapter is near, as is the beginning of a new one... a glorified, eternal one. Heaven awaits.