I have years worth of warm and wonderful Christmas memories. But one particular Christmas stands in my heart as when the true meaning of the season shone the brightest.
I was a Daddy’s girl. I never doubted my father’s love for me. His patience and quiet confidence were a constant presence in our home. His deep love of music was just one of the many gifts he gave me.
As Christmas approached in 1990, we knew that the cancer Dad had fought so valiantly was soon going to take his life. I was brokenhearted. I argued with God saying, “But he’s MY DAD!” And the Lord quietly spoke, “Yes, and he’s my son.” I would say to Dad, “It’s not time – I need you! Our children need to know you!” And Dad would patiently ask, “When do you think a good time will be? Will you ever be ready?”
When the phone call came that that is was time to come without delay, I wasn’t ready. The heavy weight of grief had slowed me as I tried to prepare a special Christmas for our 3 young children. It was Dec. 15th and we dropped everything and went to my Dad’s side.
Dad wanted to be home for his last days. He wanted to hear our preparations for Christmas and hear the children playing. He was in a lot of pain, so the hospice nurse taught me how to give him shots of morphine. One long night, he seemed to only find rest when I sang to him. I sang my way through the entire hymn book that night and was hoarse when morning dawned.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned…
For unto us a child is born, to us a child is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9: 2 &6
Emmanuel, God With Us. The truth of that was a blanket of comfort through the sorrow and the weariness of that Christmas.
My daddy slipped from this earth into the brilliance of heaven on the day after Christmas, 1990. I knew that the gift of his love would always live within me. I don’t miss him any less with the passage of time.
Dad’s last gift to me was the lesson that even if the shopping and baking and wrapping and festivities of Christmas are muted, Jesus will still come. That’s the heart of the matter. Everything else is just details.