Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Happy Father's Day

In 1984, I lost my father to pancreatic cancer. At that time I was 19, and at the height of my rebellious youth. I hated church and oh boy did I hate Christians...and just as sure as God made little green apples, I was deeply at odds with my very born again family. My father had come to his faith late in his short life of 53 years. His life story was a harrowing one. He was born at the beginning of the depression and into abject poverty with eight other brothers and sisters. His parent's lives spiraled into destruction as alcoholism increased its grip on their home. As a result his beautiful mother who bore the nickname "China Doll" and who had once been known for her angelic voice in the church choir died a tragic and horrifying death. My father struggled with his bitterness and anger over his mother's death until the age of 50, when he said he finally came to understand that it wasn't God who took his mother from him, but that his mother had died as a result of his parent's own poor choices. My Dad's conversion was dramatic. He was a man's man, something of a mixture between Johnny Cash and John Wayne. To see this rough and tumble man kneel humbly in nightly prayer was an incredibly touching scene, even for a self declared "agnostic" like me.
In the weeks leading up to his death we spent quite a bit of time in the hospital.
Near the end my father spent most of his time unconscious, with very few alert or even semi-alert moments. One late night as I sat across the room from my father's sick bed he opened his eyes and looked at me. He was here and he was speaking to to me, but it was as if he was speaking from another place. He said, "I understand now. We eat all that we can eat, and we drink all that we can drink, and then we stretch out our arms and die." The last words my father spoke to me before he passed. Although I still have my moments of ambivalence towards the church and fellow Christians...I am very much "saved" now, and with each step on my Christian journey, my father's last words pierce my heart more deeply than ever. Happy father's day Daddy. I understand now too ...

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." John 6:53

8 comments:

Constantine said...

Angevoix,
God bless your Dad. I just said a prayer for him. This is a very tender post.

What do/did you take to be the meaning of his last words to you?

voixdange said...

Its about discipleship. Taking up your cross, making the hard choices, being crucified with Christ,denying the flesh, bearing His marks, embarking on the pilgrim journey...need I say more?

Dr. Mike Kear said...

My Dad died of cancer in 2002. His last words were words of familial blessing upon his children and grandchildren.

Your father's last words were uttered with the voice of a mystic. Mine with the voice of an old testament patriarch. I think they were both trying to tell us to receive it all. Drink in all we can of that which the Creator offers. And once we've soaked up all we can hold in this life, it's OK to go on to the next with joy.

Thanks for the heartfelt words.

Peace,

Mike

Constantine said...

I hope no umbrage was taken at my question. It was asked honestly and in a spirit of genuine curiosity.

voixdange said...

Oh no, not at all Constantine...please don't feel that at all. I'm not that easily offended...you really have to persistently work at it...

Kevin Condon said...

My Dad, an alcoholic, walked away from us to go to California in the fall of 1957. I was 13. He was an artist and an ad man. He liked to party with the boys. He may have been damaged during the war when he was a pilot of a sub chaser in Brazil for the Navy. I don't remember his last words.

He didn't relate very well to me. I was sensitive and quiet. He was loud and strong, and sometimes scary and angry.

curious servant said...

Thank you for sharing this part of your story.

It seems that only in difficulty do I learn important things, and that may be true for others. I learn very little when things are easy.

The only things that I might learn without a lot of difficulty on my part is when I learn something through vicariously seeing the difficulties of others.

Thank you.

voixdange said...

You're most welcome!