A Decade Ago Today, I Lost My Dad


A scene at Rose Hills Cemetery, in Whittier, California, with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background. Many of my childhood mentors and friends are buried there, as well as my parents, paternal grandparents, and aunts and uncles. It’s sacred ground to me.


Today marks the tenth anniversary of my father’s death.  I still remember, very precisely, my brother’s telephone call, and my stunned and somewhat incoherent response, and what I did over the next few minutes.


It was a Monday, and I had spent the previous three days down in California with him.  He was in the hospital, but it hadn’t seemed life-threatening.


Two weeks before, blind and slightly memory-impaired from a stroke several years earlier — our family had no history of strokes, and, though into his eighties when it happened,  he had been in excellent health up till then — he had told me over the phone that, if he died soon, I was not to grieve.  He was ready to go.  He was frustrated at what he could no longer do.  He felt that he was useless.


I said, at his funeral, that no day would go by without my thinking of him.  And those weren’t, it turns out, simply sentimental words.  They’ve proved literally true.  I still want to share things with him.  Good jokes.  Interesting experiences.  Lately, setbacks and frustrations and defeats, and the victories that have begun to come in their wake.  And, for some reason that I really can’t explain, the night sky, especially when there are clouds and a bright moon, invariably makes me think of both my parents.


I find myself talking to them.  I miss them, and I treasure the assurances of Christ more than ever before.



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