- Friday, June 16, 2006
In March of this year, I said goodbye to my father. As he laid on white hospital linens I hugged him and told him I’d see him in a couple of weeks, then again on Father’s Day, of course, I said.
I had no idea that before the month was out I would be speaking words of remembrance at his funeral. Words I had originally penned for a book of compiled “father stories.” A book I would surprise him with. A book he never saw.
Eulogy for a Great Father
I’m trying to remember a time when my father didn’t strap a holster to his belt before walking out the door for work, but I can’t. Every morning before kissing my mother good-bye, he reached to the top of the refrigerator where his gun had been safely stored during the night. He’d unbuckle his belt, slip the leather out of a couple of the loops, slide the holster on, and re-buckle. And then out the door he’d go.
It never occurred to me the amount of danger he was in for wearing that gun. Daddy, a graduate of the
But, to me, he was just Daddy, the most special man in my life.
The Way It Was
We lived in a ranch-style house in the center of a 1960s quintessential middle-class neighborhood. My bedroom was at the far end front corner, with large windows stretching across the house’s face and side. With the drapes pulled open, I had a clear view of the road toward the entrance of the subdivision. In the afternoons — on those days when Daddy wasn’t away on some special case — I watched intently for his return home. As soon as I saw the car round the corner I headed to the front of the house, arriving at the door between the kitchen and the family room about the same time Daddy did.
I flung myself into his arms, the roughness of the gun’s grip scraping against the tender flesh under my arm. Not that I cared. It could have taken off an inch of skin and I wouldn’t have cared. Daddy was home. As his arms came around me, his fingers curled, scratching up and down my back until my knees buckled and he had to squeeze even harder to keep me from falling.
I giggled, “Sto-o-o-op!” but I didn’t mean it. It could continue forever; when Daddy hugged me, nothing in the world could possibly go wrong. Everything in life was as ideal as I wanted it to be.
The Way It Became
As little girls do, I grew up, married, and moved out of state, seeing Daddy only a few times a year. Still, with each greeting, my arms found their way around his waist and his fingers still scratched up and down my back. There was no gun, however. Not anymore. Daddy had retired and the pistol he’d worn at his side for so many years had been locked away in a safer place than the top of a refrigerator.
Then one day a call came. The kind of call a daughter can never plan for. From the other end of the line Daddy said, “I’ve got multiple myeloma, baby”
My knees buckled; this time there was no one to catch me. “Daddy, no.”
As he always has, Daddy reassured me that everything would be all right. In a week or so — just before Christmas, he said — he’d have the port (a surgically inserted device for administering chemo and drawing blood) put in and then, after the holidays, chemo would begin. “I’m going to beat this thing,” he said.
I went back home for Christmas. My parents, long ago divorced, had agreed to have dinner together as a family for the first time in close to twenty years. On Christmas Day I stood in what was still my mother’s home and watched for Daddy’s car to come down the street, just as I had many years earlier. When it finally rounded the corner, I ran through the house and out the side door, reaching him just as he stepped out of the dark blue
“Careful, baby,” Daddy said, but he squeezed tight, reassuring me with his hug.
Please God, I prayed. Don’t let my Daddy die. Not yet. Not yet.
The Way It Is
Daddy lived. He survived chemo and stem-cell replacement therapy (where his own stem cells were used). It’s been nearly four years since I felt the port against my head, half a lifetime since I felt the gun against my forearm. And though it appears we may be once again battling the “beast;” I will forever know the peace of his arms around me.
When the time comes for me to let Daddy go to the arms of our heavenly Father, I’ll draw comfort in what has always been there and is left behind. The sweet arms of the Holy Spirit, drawing me closer to the throne.
The Way It Will Be
As God would have it, the last touch between Daddy and me was a hug goodbye.
No, not goodbye.
"See you later."
And this time, he will be waiting for me to come home.
For more information about Eva Marie Everson, you may contact her via her website at www.EvaMarieEverson.com. This story originally appeared in The Embrace of a Father, compiled by Wayne Holmes and published by Bethany House Publishers, Copyright © 2006. For more information about the book, go to: www.WayneHolmes.com
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