Saying Goodbye to My Father, Part 1 – His Legacy

My father died last week after living a long life of 94 years.  It was such a beautiful passing with family by his side.  He had just come home from the hospital hours earlier.  We all knew he was coming home to die, but didn’t realize how quickly his time would come.

The family was preparing to provide his hospice care for several weeks.  Just hours before he passed away, we met with the hospice nurse and were instructed on how to administer his meds and keep him comfortable in his final days.  An hour after the nurse left the house, my father’s condition rapidly deteriorated and my older brother, John, was tested in his new caregiver role much sooner than he anticipated. He rose to the occasion and demonstrated grace and wisdom under pressure.

My younger brother, Glen, arrived from St. Louis just hours earlier and had a poignant conversation with our father.   Dad blessed Glen with words that provided closure and reassurance of his love. Other family members were quickly called to the home and a bedside vigil ensued for the next two hours.

After my dad passed away, we had the added luxury of remaining with him before he was taken to the funeral home.  We held an impromptu wake, telling stories of his life, laughing and crying and processing out loud what we had all just witnessed.  We were in a bit of shock, but not totally unprepared for the finality of it all.  It was so perfectly orchestrated by God.

My father did not openly share his feelings or engage in sensitive dialogue.  He was analytical, logical and often critical in nature.  But in recent years there was a softening of his heart.  He was learning to let go and surrender in small bits and pieces.  I was always watching and processing the changes that were going on with him—and their effect on me as well.  We were both preparing to say goodbye.

My relationship with Christ provided the perspective I needed as I witnessed the events surrounding his death.  Not only did I get closure, but I also witnessed or heard second-hand of other conversations family members, like Glen, had with my father.  When it came to writing his eulogy, those reflections were immediately where I felt led to share.  I wanted my family to remember the softening of his heart and the good that he tried to leave us with.

His memorial was a beautiful family event.  My step-mother told me he would’ve been proud.  Even though there were many tears and lots of sentimental things shared, I think he would’ve been proud too.  He left this family with many legacies: his frugality, his wisdom, his wit, his perseverance, his pursuit of excellence, his logic and analysis of every situation and I think greatest of all, as my brother John shared at the memorial, was his final provision for his family.

My father lived a long, long life of 94 years.  He had a passion for his hobbies like fishing and playing bridge.  He travelled the world with his wife by his side.  Yet he also scrimped and saved.  So in light of that, I think he was preparing to say goodbye all his life.  It was a beautiful legacy to leave his family.

Family crest designed by my father.

We love you Dad.  Thanks for each and every legacy you left for us.

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1 Comment

  1. Carol Van Boxtel

     /  July 18, 2012

    Well said Ardis. Likewise, you did a great job with his eulogy. I’m thankful you’ve been taking notes as it is so easy to forget.



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    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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