He’s Finally My Daddy

I am watching my daddy die.

I haven’t called him daddy for a long time. For most of my adult life, our relationship has been strained and estranged for long periods of time.

Yet here I sit by his bedside watching him fade away to the heaven he has preached so much about in his sermons and believed in for many years. Some have called it “slipping into eternity” or going into the “presence of the Lord.” Whatever you want to call it, he’s almost there.

You think a lot about “the other side” when you are sitting here watching someone die. Some people don’t believe. I can see how hard it is to believe it but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. There are many Christian beliefs about what happens when we die. Some think you immediately go to heaven, others think you go to an in-between place and some think we fall into a “soul sleep” until the return of Jesus Christ as prophesied in the Book of Revelation.

As far as things on this side goes, dad and I have resolved our issues. Neither one of us can make up for the lost years between us but things are settled. At this point the petty differences we had before doesn’t really matter much now.

I now declare that our relationship resolved.

We are both winners. It was never a competition. It was a prideful standoff for way too many years.

We all make hard decisions in life. It’s easy when we are young and can blame decisions on our parents but when are adults and make the hard choices, it’s all on us. I was forced to make some of those hard choices which significantly impacted our relationship. That’s what happens sometimes in life. You don’t always get the Norman Rockwell painting. Many times you get the dysfunctions that would be too difficult for even Dr. Phil to resolve. You have to make choices that allow you to live your own live. It is sad, but these choices can hurt people and cause divisions.

I won’t sugar coat it, my dad was strict. He was a pentecostal preacher and that led to a lot of conflict between us. Whenever he said I was going to get a whipping there was no parole. It was gonna happen. Of course today, he would be accused of abuse but it was a different time then. That’s all he knew. I’m not excusing it or condoning it. I’m just explaining it. I seem to think I turned okay in spite of it. We all do our best. It’s easy to be a critic.

As the breath of life gets harder and harder for him, I sit here understanding this man more now. Over the past few days we have had the father-son moments that never happened between us. He was never the mushy type who talked about feelings. Death tends to force it out of our pride.

Dad was a preacher for over 40 years for a church organization which was very much a cult of people who mistreated him and church leaders betrayed him. The only reason he left this church group is that church leaders ignored improprieties and because of his integrity, it forced him out. The so-called leader whimped out and caved into pressure. Now that person is the leader of the cult group. How pathetic. Because of this, my dad had to find another way to support himself and my mom. Even though this church burned him badly, he still held onto their ridiculous teachings to the very end.

My dad was never a slacker. At many of the churches he had to work a secular job in addition to pastoring a church. He never had a college degree but he was always very intelligent and often figured things out for himself. The church seriously limited his talents and abilities.

I never followed in my dad’s footsteps. I asked him about that recently. It never bothered him because he said that being a minister wasn’t hereditary, it is a calling from God. I see too many who follow their father’s into the ministry as if they were continuing the family business. I’m glad my dad never felt slighted about me not becoming a preacher.

For the first time in my life, my daddy needs me. I am here without any hesitation.

I don’t recall him ever telling me that he was proud of me but that’s okay. He doesn’t have to. I resolved that issue many years ago and I don’t need that affirmation.

At this moment, none of that matters. Death humbles us all.

Marriage Of The Soul

I know we often toss around the idea of finding our “soul mate” and making it sound magical and romantic.  

Well, if you find the right person it is.  

I spent over 20 years in my “previous life” (that’s what I call it) married to the wrong person.  While I tried to force it to be what I wanted it to be, it never was.  It was a life of frustration.  

Today, my life is different.  After six years with the right person, I know what it means to have your soul mate.  There is no scientific formula for this, it’s one of those things that you just know.  It clicks inside of you without having to be forced or questioned.  It isn’t something that has to be work or difficult.   I am very fortunate to have found it.    Not many people get the chance I have had.  I always say that I have a second chance to be a better husband and I won’t squander the chance I have been given.  

If I have some advice to give people it would be:

Don’t base your decision on your fears of disappointing others.  

This one had me for most of my life.   You are the only person you know how to be.  You have to make decisions about love for your own happiness, not based on the happiness of others.  I lived with the expectation of others and the church and worried more about disappointing them than my own happiness.  Let me tell you a secret that I wish someone had told me:  you will always disappoint people regardless what you do.  You have to live with you.  Make decisions of love on that, not for the approval of others. 

Don’t settle because of low self esteem. 

I used to have a very low self-esteem which is a terrible trap when you are in a relationship.  This will deceive you into thinking that this is all you will ever have or you will be alone.  You have to love yourself more than that.  Not to the extreme of being full of yourself but living where you don’t have to settle for something that isn’t right for you.  

Follow your heart but take your brain with you.  

Be careful that you don’t just fall in love with love.  You have to have love but you need to make sure you like the person too.  You have to genuinely like being with the person. You can’t fake this or it will only wear you down after the honeymoon period is over.  Obviously we all have our differences but you have to decide if you can live with those differences and not just ignore them.  

Although I have been divorced, I am not an advocate of it.  Divorce should never be an option in your mind.  Yes, I went down that road but it is a choice I made.  You should never go into a marriage thinking that as your way out.  You should always do what you can to fix your marriage.  Unfortunately you can’t always do it.  Again you have to find your own way and not seek the approval of others.  

The soul knows and when you find them you will know it.  This is why I never wanted the “till death do us part” in our vows because when the soul has found the one it loves, that is a love that lasts.  

Yeah, we all mess up and make the wrong decisions in love.  Yes, people scoff at true love, soul mates and happily ever afters but it does happen and there is hope for the soul.