In a few hours I’ll be on my way to St. Ronald’s Catholic Church for the funeral mass for my dad. When he got diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer less than two months ago, if you would have asked me what I’d be doing on September 29th, I could have never imagined we’d be at his funeral.
That being said the final two months were a blessing beyond words. The time we spent together. The stories we told. The words we shared.
And thankfully I didn’t save all of the things I ever wanted to say to my dad until the very end. On January 30, 2014 I wrote him a letter. Here is how it began…
Over the past few months I have been feeling led to write you a letter to give to you for your birthday. As a birthday present. But then busyness got in the way and I almost put it off. But then when you sent me “The Old Man” song earlier this week it was the “kick in the pants” I needed to sit down and type this out.
In my recent blog I talking about how we need to “Speak Life.” To encourage. To bless. To honor. And I felt like my action step out of that blog was this letter.
Now that I am a dad I am coming to learn just how hard it is being a dad. And it makes me appreciate you that much more!
There were so many things I just took for granted when I was a kid. Like the fact that you held a steady job. And even when things were looking bad for Chrysler back in the late 70s, you never showed any stress about losing your job. I always felt secure. You always made sure food was on the table. And there were always piles of Christmas presents in the family room on Christmas morning. And we were always able to go on a family vacation — Port Austin, Wheels Inn in Canada, Midland, Kings Island, Houghton Lake, Traverse City — lots of good memories!
And there were other things that I now realize were so important that you did… like making dinner time a priority for the family. And family time on the weekends when we went on those drives in our Dodge Aspen or Plymouth Gran Fury as a family to places like the Rochester Park, the Cider Mill, or Algonac to see the ice damns. And buying me clothes when I outgrew my old ones. And encouraging me to go to college when I wanted to become a rock star.
One big one I took for granted was you coming to my soccer games. Even when it was freezing cold! It was great having you there. Cheering me on.
And then I wrote a few more paragraphs that I’ll keep just between my dad and me.
I wanted to write this blog not only to celebrate my dad’s life but to encourage you to do what I did.
What letter do you need to write that you have been putting off? What words do you need to say that maybe you have never said… or don’t say often enough to your loved ones? Who do you need to give the gift of your time to?
Finally, I’d love to invite you all to The Eastside Vineyard Church this coming Sunday. My sermon will simply be called “Dallas” and I intend to share the faith lessons and life lessons I learned from my dad during those final two months. We gather inside Shelby Jr. High School (51700 Van Dyke // 2 blocks north of 23 Mile Rd.). October 4th. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org
Thanks for reading.