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My father died 21 years ago.  I had forgotten.   I'm down on death, so I don't remember dates like that.  One of my sisters reminded me.

Grief is a process that becomes a part of who we are and it never becomes something we're "over".  I was reluctant to stir it up.

But my sister’s call brought me back to the day of my father's death.  This was back in the day when I was a perky born-again Christian and church was as a regular as a bowel movement (there's a reason for this reference but you'll have to read on....).

My father had a fantastic sense of humor and the sound of his laughter from the time he woke up to the time he fell asleep was as regular as...yes, you guessed it, a bowel movement.

Let me explain.  The day my father died, we all knew his death was imminent.  He had been suffering from the ravages of a terrorist cancer that had decided to claim territory in his brain.  I found this profoundly unfair, given that my father was one who enjoyed every minute of his life and started each day with a robust and joyful heart.

A thousand miles separated me from my father the day he died.  That night, at our church, there happened to be a prayer meeting for those who had loved ones who were suffering terminal illnesses.  On a whim, I decided to go to pray for my father.

In that small circle of pale and pious parishioners, I felt the sense and spirit of my father.

One of the pastors came to talk to me after the meeting.  He had a request.  A Young Life youth leader from Connecticut had had a terrible fall during a rock climb on one of the infamous Boulder Flatirons.  He had broken almost every bone in his body.  He was from Greenwich, Connecticut, the town I grew up in.  On top of that, I had been a Young Life leader in college.  Would I give him a quick visit on my way home?

Since those were the days I was always on a mission, I gladly accepted!

I went to the hospital and found his room.  I gently knocked on the door and then basically barged in.  I was a little uncomfortable not knowing him and all, but I strode in with confidence, blathering away, on and on, about how sorry I was he got so hurt, that we were from the same town, and I had been a Young Life leader.
I had dropped my purse and made myself at home.  I looked at him and his face looked rather uncomfortable.  Well, what can you expect with all those broken bones!

I didn't give him a chance, a space, some air...I just kept rambling on and on, figuring I was the best thing that had happened to him that day.

Suddenly, he put his hand up, in one of those "Stop Sign" motions.

"I don't mean to be rude," he said, "but quite frankly I was in the middle of having a bowel movement and I need you to leave."

Oh my gawd.  My face turned a bright brilliant red and I was completely and utterly mortified.  What an idiot!  How presumptuous I had been sauntering in there acting like the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ himself!

I don't know what I said.  I started going backwards out of that room, picking up my purse, bumping into a chair and slipping, stammering and stuttering out of that hospital room, apologizing over and over again.  

Cursing the pastor as I left the hospital, I made a quick escape to home.

I walked in and the phone rang.  It was my mother.  She had the voice of an angel.

"Your father passed away this evening, Mary.  I was singing to him about angels and better days as he sweetly and peacefully passed away.  He died with me by his side, and he died with a smile on his face."

Although I knew my father's death was imminent, I was shocked.  The finality.  The end.  The finish.  One can never gear up for that.

I got off the phone and then I had to laugh.  It was all so perfect given my father's great sense of humor and ability to laugh at life.

If that hospital guy hadn't had a bowel movement at that exact moment, I would have missed my mother's call.  I would have missed the pure and serene tone in her voice.  I would have missed her sense of peace and calm and release at knowing my father was no longer suffering.

Life is so many things...it is messy, dirty, earthy raw, and gut-wrenchingly visceral.  

If there is a God, I'm convinced that She has a great sense of humor.

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