A Time to Grieve, a Time to Hope
Do you know where you were this time last year?
I do. I’ll never forget where I was.
My mom had called me at 4:30 am and told me she thought I needed to come to Huntsville because Dad wasn’t doing well. Jeannie and I got to the hospital as fast as we could and we spent the rest of day counting my father’s breaths. He passed away about 2:30 that afternoon.
This past year there have been days of intense highs and desperate lows. Some days, I couldn’t get over how fortunate I am to have had a dad like I had. I guess every son thinks his dad is a hero, but mine was.
Sometimes I’ll remember a conversation with him, remember something he did and I’ll stand a little taller with the pride of being this great man’s son.
Sometimes I’ll laugh until my sides hurt (my dad was a very funny man).
Other times, I’d reach for the phone to call him (we talked several times a day) and then I’d remember that he’s not here.
I would hold the phone in my hand and cry until I thought “I’m running out of tears.” What I would give to talk to him just one more time. I still have his number in my speed dial. For some reason, I just can’t take it off yet.
Today, my family is gathering at my mom’s house to remember my dad.
My family is all boys — two sons, four grandsons, and one great grandson.
When I first floated the idea of getting together, I was surprised at how fast everyone jumped on the idea. Everyone rearranged their lives just to be here today.
I think it’s important not only to remember, but that we remember together.
So today we’ll tell stories. We’ll eat together. We’ll affirm and confirm our love for each other. We’ll do our best to act like Big John taught us to act, to live as he would want us to live, to be the men he saw in each of us.
When I was little, my dad worked two jobs, and sometimes three, trying to build a secure future for our family. This meant that most nights, Dad didn’t get home until after I had gone to bed.
But I was sneaky when I was little. Mom would make me go to bed, but I wouldn’t go to sleep. I would lie awake until I heard my dad come home. I would hear his footsteps in the hall and then I would know everything is OK.
Do you know I could recognize my dad, I could find him in a crowd by listening for his footsteps? I knew the way my Dad walked.
I still hear his footsteps.
Late at night, and in moments when my mind wonders off during the day. . .I hear his footsteps. They remind me everything is OK.
And just like when I was a kid, I can rest now knowing tomorrow is coming with opportunities to seize and mountains to climb.
That’s where my dad’s steps lead. I’ll have to walk fast to catch up.