Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's Time

Even with the passage of 45 years, the day's events have not paled, nor has their sorrow.

Oh, but I'm so far ahead of myself. Let me begin again.

The aroma of morning in my mother's house was always inviting, and never more than on Thanksgiving Day. Something savory heralded the holiday, and i
t always included the collective scents of simmering giblets, nutmeg & cinnamon, homemade bread, baking turkey, and something I could never quite put my finger on. No matter. It was the aroma of the familiar and the familial.

The year was 1964, and I was 16.

Family always arrived early: my sisters and their husbands and children; my uncle and his lady friend, Mrs. Foley; and sometimes others too. This year included my then boyfriend/now husband, Terry. The house was happiest when it was filled to the rafters, especially when the little ones scurried under foot.

It had been a long year, 1964 - and Thanksgiving arrive
d with somber hues and tones. Our hearts, filled to the brim with gratitude for all things blessed, were also filled with something less joyful: dread. For many days we'd been stealing ourselves for the inevitable.

For well over a year my father - daddy - had warred fiercely with an enemy called leukemia. It's virulent, relentless and pitiless assault made no show of retreat. But oh what a battle daddy gave it! As if armored and mounted, he rode headlong into the foray; sometimes daily. Battle weary and battle scarred, he never gave up fightin
g. I can't recall him having even a moment of complaint or self-pity.

But by Thanksgiving it was obvious that daddy's days of warring were nearing their end. Frail, bruised, pale ... just taking a breath had become a day's labor.

As the holiday unfolded a light snow began to fall
. It was unusually glorious, and I remember, even now, having such conflicted feelings about it. My initial thoughts were of bundling to go sledding, while my secondary thoughts were of how cruel it was that such beauty would mock my family; mock me.

Daddy lay quiet on the couch throughout the day as family gathered and gabbed and giggled, and dinner was served. He could hardly sit now, and his periods of wakefulness had lessened. As dinner ended, I sensed from the hushed whispers that something wasn't right. Seems he's taken a turn for the worse, and an ambulance had been summoned. Mother's worried face told the story, as did her call to action: It's time.

To this day I remember following behind that ambulance by car, the gently falling snow blurring the red rotating light of the ambulance, and muffling it's siren - the surreal and the serene co-mingling. My heart pounded, not certain if it was fear or hope that compelled the thumping. I longed to hurry, then longed to slow it all down.

My father would never again return home.

Once hospitalized, Daddy remained with us a few more days, until December 4, when at last he stepped into the presence of his Lord, Jesus. He went gently and quietly during the early morning hours ... no doubt the time he'd have risen to head out for some good trout fishing.

One evening, shortly after he was admitted to the hospital and while he was still lucid, we girls were summoned. My father had called
us together to say goodbye. With courage, tears and great heart he spoke of his love for us, and for our mother. He was ready, and he wanted us to be to as well.

Thanksgiving conflicts me still. Yet somehow I've come to appreciate the grand legacy attached to it. What tears it engenders are tears of pride, of precious memories, of thankfulness. What better way to begin the counting of blessings.
.

19 comments:

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

Kathleen - what a touching post that certainly brought tears to my eyes.

I could feel the love for your parents in your writing and I am so sorry for you loss at such a young age.

Love to you

rcubes said...

Thank you for sharing this heartfelt post! Made me think of my own father who died from colon ca. It reminded me of how the tears of sadness could be the tears of joy at the same time, as my siblings and I gathered around him, his weak body on bedrest. Of how weak he was, but then again, strong to give his warm hugs to each of us. Of how death was so near yet, we knew it was just the portal to a heavenly home and eternal life. Your post brought joy into my heart. Because I'm so thankful right now for all those warm, loving mem'ries and for the hope we have in the Lord Jesus Christ! Happy Thanksgiving! God bless.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

What a sad, but beautiful memory!

I pray you will feel his spirit as your family gathers this Thanksgiving.

Wylie said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful, and bittersweet memories. You had me tearing up through this story. God bless you, and yours. I am so thankful that your sweet daddy knew His Savior, and that you can look back on the memories with the hope of our LORD. Have a blessed, and beautiful Thanksgiving!
Wylie

Shirley said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! What a beautiful tribute! And what a blessed hope you have that you will see him again one day!

{{{hugs}}}

skoots1mom said...

such sweet heartfelt memories ... may your memories grow more golden

Beth E. said...

What a touching post, and what a precious daddy you had! I know your father would be so proud of you, Kathleen.

Love,
Beth

KelliGirl said...

Kathleen,
You held me captive with every word. I could smell the aroma of the meal being prepared, feel the snow on my face, hear the laughter...see the ambulance lights. It's such a heartfelt and touching story. God bless your Dad for leaving behind such a legacy and God bless you for carrying it on.

sonja said...

This posting brings so many of those same memories, for me, it was my mother, and it was on Christmas Day when she had a stroke. The scents of the cooking, riding in the ambulance, and the response of your heart...I felt them all. Those memories will always be there for us, but so will the joy of knowing we will gather together again one day. It's that great hope that heals hearts. A wonderful tribute to your Dad... he would love it!

LisaShaw said...

Kathleen,

Through many tears I read this with my heart so full with joy and with sadness. I'm grateful your precious, handsome Daddy is resting with the LORD and has left his love with you.

We will all face that day of "it's time" perhaps different circumstances but we will all be there as well as more of our loved ones and the peace is in knowing that it's time has a joyous touch to it that it means it's time to go to the LORD.

May GOD's comfort and joy continue to rest with you dear friend.

Love you and thanks for sharing your precious family with us.

Rebecca said...

How bitter-sweet this whole holiday season must be for you! My the peace and joy of Jesus, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit enable you to face both the bitter AND the sweet with the courage with which your father faced his leukemia and entered his eternal life with Jesus.

My thoughts go out to you this week, Kathleen.

Debbie said...

Kathleen- Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful but can also stir up memories of lost loved ones. I drafted a post on Heart Choices but haven't published it yet because it's about how much I miss my mom. I think there are many people who are conflicted when they want to be happy and grateful and yet ...

You've given me the courage to publish it. I need to put the finishing touches but I'm sure it will be up by morning.

Love you,
Debbie

Terri Tiffany said...

Each time you write such a beautiful tribute, I wonder why you don't submit these someplace so many more could experience this touching moment.
Praying your holiday is a special one!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

A beautiful way to begin a week of calendared thankfulness...

The passing of those we love, those I love... conflicts me still. I thought of my precious girlfriends today while driving a country road. It's hard to imagine them anywhere else but here.

peace~elaine

Just a little something from Judy said...

Okay my friend, you just brought me to tears. I read every word, I even felt the pain...pain that daughters feel when they lose that special man whom they call "dad" for years. I have experienced that too. I know that is why this post brought me to tears. I love this last picture! This post was so special! It came from your heart and it reached out to mine...thank you for sharing. I am sure he was a wonderful man.

christy rose said...

What a beautiful tribute to your daddy. I am sure that Thanksgiving is definitely bittersweet for you Kathleen. The sweet is knowing you will see him again someday. I am sure he is anxiously awaiting the family reunion. Thanks for sharing your lovely story with us.
Christy

Rosezilla said...

Beautifully written from the heart. I pray God will show you the blessings in the pain; the joyful memories sweetening the sorrowful ones.

a portland granny said...

How beautifully and poignantly written! Your memories, as shared with us, are so very seared into your mind's eye. Never far from our thoughts are the days when our dear parents left us to join the hosts of Heaven! Oh what a day for them! We have faced our lives since those memorable days "because He lives!"

What blessed assurance we have that we shall all be together one day in that land that is "fairer than day"!

Thank you for sharing this precious time with your dear Daddy.

Nel said...

What a beautiful post! Such a tribute to your dad! Hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!