As I was reading Scribbit's Write-Away assignment this month, something inside of me told me I needed to contribute. Immediately after reading the caveats (1. have the subject of Thanksgiving and 2. begin with the letter F) I knew my subject--my Father. I firmly believe that when there is a desire or a push there is a need and a pull. Maybe someone out there needs to hear my words. Maybe there will be comfort, reassurance or just a new knowledge. Here is my story.
Six years and 13 days ago, my mother and father were on their way to a cabin in East Texas to spend the weekend with two other couples. Our three families, a total of ten kids, had spent most of the past Halloween weekends camping outdoors instead of trick-or-treating. Other times of the year we would exchange Christmas presents or have game nights. They were my extended family and both of the other couples are like parents to me. Years had passed and all the kids were grown and out of the houses. The couples were re-uniting sans kids this go around.
Dad had just taken a new job in Texarkana and was commuting about an hour north every day. He had a cold that night and didn't feel good. Mom had had a rough week of teaching second graders. They discussed whether or not they should still go, but decided in the end that it would be a good get-away. About 20 miles from the cabin, my mother called to tell the others they were almost there. Thirty minutes later, Mr. David and Mr. Gary decided to go look for them when they received no answer on the phone. Three miles up the road they discovered the accident.
The country road was dark and not well lit. The speed limit was 70 mph. There was a man on the opposite side of the road, stopped with his boat. Dad slowed a bit to see if the man needed any help. When he looked back, the road had ended. My father came up on a T in the road that wasn't marked. No warning signs, no sign at the T with arrows pointing in either direction, no indication of reduced speed, no barrier. He veered as much as possible, but still hit a tree head on in their white mini-van. There were no air bags and Dad never wore his seat belt. Luckily, my mother was wearing hers. My mother was injured severely and as she felt my father slump over on her and moan, she heard him take his last breath. She also remembers hearing the voice of someone with them, checking on them and telling her to "let him go" and to focus on herself. But, when she saw the first responder and asked about that voice, they insisted that no one else had been there. We both believe it was an angel or God himself.
Today on his birthday, I miss my father. But I am so very thankful that I was blessed with such a generous, wise, loving, caring, and kind earthly father. He had many quirks, as we all do, but that is what made his personality meaningful. I am thankful that he passed on his love for music to me, that he taught me how to make Mexican hot sauce, that he showed me what I need to look for in a husband. Most of all though, I am thankful that he knew our Heavenly Father and that he understood what it meant to be like Christ. I didn't really know his relationships with his friends, but I was in awe in the weeks after his passing to hear the stories of how he led so many people to love God so fully.
You may wonder "why would God let this happen to a man that is doing His will?" It's a good question and one I may not ever have an answer to, but I know this; my father is in heaven and our Heavenly Father has a plan. One day that plan will be revealed and our Father will conquer the final enemy. It is written "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." I Corinthians 15:26. How thankful I am that God gave his only Son to save us from this death! I am thankful that I will one day see my earthly father again. But, for now, I am thankful my father is there watching me and my little boys with a smile. I am doing my best to teach my children what it means to be a man like their "Dadoo," as we lovingly called him. I am so thankful that he taught me about our Heavenly Father so that I may continue to carry the torch of truth and light which shone so brightly in his heart.