My dad lived through the depression. He was the father figure in a fatherless home. He was a hard worker from the get go. He spent his grown up years working in a factory and tending bar to make ends meet for his family. He died when he was only 62 years old from a long struggle with lung cancer. He was a diligent church goer with a wonderful tenor voice. He made sure his children also went to church and got a Christian education. He was my hero at times, my champion at others and my example through his life.
Sounds like a great dad. He was. Yet he wasn’t a super hero nor a champion. He often struggled with alcohol over indulgence. He seemed happiest when he’d had his fill. He made mistakes – big, serious, mistakes which affected all of us. He was a sinner, like every man, woman and child on the planet. Yet, even on his death bed, when he toughed it out through chemotherapy, he knew that his sins were forgiven. He had not yet forgiven himself for his mistakes. Isn’t this where we often fall short? We accept God’s forgiveness, yet we can’t let go of our own guilt.
When dad passed away I’m not sure if he had let go, but God gave me a sign that dad was in heaven. I’m not one to rely on these things as always being from God, but this one gave me great comfort. As my sister and I were on our way to Milwaukee from Minneapolis to see our dad for the last time, I noticed a single cloud in the persistently, clear, blue sky. It looked exactly like a dove ascending into the highest point of heaven. When we got to the hospital, dad had already died, but we discovered it was almost the same moment that I’d viewed that cloud in the sky.
It’s been a long time since I last saw my dad. I miss him. I wish he could’ve seen our children grow into responsible adults with children of their own. I wish he could’ve seen that his insistence on our going to church would pay off. I wish I could see him again – and I know I will, because I know I’m going to heaven and I know he’s there too.