My father passed away two years ago when I was 48 years old. My wife and I were out making some runs when my step-mother called to tell me she had called an ambulance and they were taking my father to the hospital. She said he would be ok and there was no need for me to stop what I was doing in Indiana and travel to Wisconsin. I told her thanks for the update, and I will be praying for him. I asked was she ok. She said yes. We ended our call.
I immediately advised my wife I was heading to Wisconsin, he’s not going to survive this one. My father had been in failing health for some time. My wife called home told the children we were heading to see granddad that he’s in the hospital. My oldest child at home was 21, so our young ones were in good hands, and we started our two-plus hour drive. I think we had just entered Wisconsin when my step-mother called again and said my dad wanted to see me. I told her we were in Wisconsin and would be there soon.
When my wife and I arrived at the hospital we were informed, he was unresponsive, and his organs were shutting down. He was dying. I told my dad I was there, his eyes although closed moved as if he heard my voice in his sleep and was waking. But he never did wake. My step-mother was one tough cookie, and she was holding herself together as she worked to comfort my brother and I. My brother was falling apart, his wife was right there supporting him and her mother-in-law. Soon other family members began to arrive at the hospital, we cried at the event, laughed at past gatherings, and prayed for a full recovery. Yes, I honestly prayed! Then came those dreaded words from the doctor, there was nothing more they could do. Suddenly, his chest stopped moving, and his monitor gave one long solid tone and lines went flat. My father was no longer in the land of the living and had gone to sleep with his fathers. The last time my father and I spoke was the last time we talked. It had been about a week earlier.
That next month my brother turned 37. Life changed drastically. I could no longer bounce ideas off of him. Or call to say hi. How do I tell my children? My oldest daughter was 23, and they were very close.
My father and I often disagreed. We have had open dialogues on various issues, many times we agreed with one another from the start, and other times by the end of our discussions. However, on some of our more passionate talks, that would last for decades, we never agreed. We couldn’t even agree to disagree! I was 48 when he passed, and in all those years I only had the last word once.
My heart breaks for the many children who have never known their parents and grandparents. I can’t imagine what life would have been like without him in my life.
Like I said earlier I have only had the last word once. It wasn’t because my father was brute, rude and violent, or childish and petty. It was because of what he had instilled in me since I was a small child. He told me, ‘I can say anything I want to say to him (or anyone else), but I can’t say it any kind-of-way.’
I could tell him that I hated what he did or said or how he made me feel. I could say to him that was the dumbest thing he had ever said. But every word could only be spoken thru the filter of ‘I can say anything I want to say, but I can’t say it any kind-of-way.’ With my father it wasn’t one-sided, we both had to follow the rule although he would take more liberties with his filter.
So few people truly comprehend the simplistic approach of those words. If those words were applied to every part of human communications, we would see a decrease in suicide, murder, racism, bullying, wars, and other forms abuse to name a few things.
I will never be too old to respect my elders or value the thoughts of my juniors.
Proverbs 15 verse 1 from the Complete Jewish Bible put it like this.
A gentle response deflects fury, but a harsh word makes tempers rise.
A gentle response or soft answer is more than merely not yelling or barking directives. Nice-nasty is not gentle. An Example of nice-nasty, ‘You look nice today, unlike how you usually look.’ Wouldn’t ‘You look nice!’ have been enough?
Oh, I know, ‘you have to keep it real.’
What if you kept it holy and in fear of The Almighty?
My father’s words were handed down from his father to me to my children and hopefully to my grandchildren and beyond.
Please consider what it means to have a gentle answer. Share some benefits of using gentle/soft/tender words. How harsh words make you feel. How do your word choices express love or contempt for God? And why?
Please, share with us.