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Dear Dad,

There’s so much to say.  You know how some people send out a newsletter with their Christmas cards, spelling out all the news of the past year?  I’ve been feeling the need to do that lately, just for you.  Except that no no one has found a way to send letters to Heaven yet.  Or how to call or even text.  Oh, how I wish God would make a little exception now and then!  But, it doesn’t seem like He has so far.  So there’s just this.  Since you were probably my most faithful blog reader (second only to Mom), it only seems natural that I would write to you here, and even more so since this was our platform for the hardest days of our lives and  into the most glorious day of yours. I won’t know until I see you again if you’re actually able to read it, but let’s pretend for now that you can because so much has happened since you left and we are long overdue for one of our chats.

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Since you’ve been gone, there’s been a lot of change in all of us.  Mom, me, Amy, David, and everyone else.  We’ve learned that this is how much a person can affect your life.  So much that when they’re gone, a part of you is gone, too.  Not even the kids are unaffected.  But, there are so many things to learn from this.  One of the best being that it serves as a reminder every day that our influence on others is so very significant.  And so many times I am struck with amazement that you spent your influence so well that pretty much every person who entered your presence became richer for it.

We knew this was true in your life, but we’ve witnessed it so many times after your death as well.  Most recently, I’m thinking about Mom and how her water heater started giving her problems.  You remember the man you had told her to call, right?  He was never a member of your church.  He didn’t know anything about you besides you calling to have him work on the church’s heating and air.  Yet, he speaks to Mom repeatedly of what a kind and gracious person you were, and how you looked him straight in the eye when he spoke, truly interested in what he had to say.  He saw Jesus in you.  And because of that, he has bent over backwards for Mom, telling her he will help her in anyway he can.  And he’s just one person.

And there’s more good news— David and Brittany are expecting your next grandchild.  We all believe in our hearts that you already know all about it, but just in case you missed the memo, the baby is due near my birthday, so of course I keep telling them they should name her after me if it’s a girl!  (Ha!)

And Grant and Abby are both in college now.  Grant is a sophomore and Abby just finished her first semester.  It’s so hard to believe because it seems like just yesterday you dropped me off.  And Abby lives on the same floor I lived on for 3 years!  You’d be surprised at this, but many people have told Grant how much he favors you now that he is getting older.  Even I see it in certain pictures and in his smile. You would be so proud of them and all they’ve learned and accomplished.  They’re going through a lot and doing great.  But, it’s hard to be the mom of college kids at times, and I’d still give almost anything to be able to ask your advice for this stage of my life and hear you say one more time that I’m doing a good job.

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Lily and Lola are also growing up fast.  You would be very proud of them as well.  We all speak of you often, and we still laugh about lots of stories you told and things you did.  I don’t want them to ever forget them.

I tried my hand at painting a mural for Lola’s room a couple months ago and I kept thinking the whole time I was painting about how I wish you could see it, so I could hear you say what you thought of it.  And when I sent pics of it to Amy, one of the first things she said was, “Dad would love this.”  It was one of the best things she could have said.  She gets it.

Don’t tell Amy and David this, but I don’t think I could make it through everything without them.  All the times you and mom had to tell us to stop fighting in the back seat paid off. And you were right (as always), they’ve turned out to be a couple of my best friends.  I see you in them so much in different situations that I’m reminded once again how a man truly does live on on this earth even after he has left it.  David has, not only your mannerisms, but your eternal optimism and gift for speaking.  And Amy has your wit and is wise beyond her years, as long as it’s not too early in the morning!

And Dave. He is everything you knew he would be when you gave me away to him at the end of the aisle. With so many of the important men in my life gone now, he’s had to fill the roles.  Just like the rest of us, he looks after Mom, plus he runs the business, is a great dad, and proves every day that he was meant for me.  All the prayers you prayed all my life for me to find the right husband were answered in him and even exceeded in every way.  Thank you for that.

So another big way we have changed is that we’re totally dog people now.  Dave still won’t totally admit it, but even he is too.  I can see the smile on your face right now as you try not to laugh.  Remember we brought Scout home as a tiny puppy right in those last weeks before you left?  Those were the hardest times and we didn’t know if it was the right thing to try to bring a dog home when you and Mom were living here and we were dealing with hospice and the house was already full of people coming and going.  But, we went ahead with our plan and it was a good decision.  And even though you really didn’t get to have a chance to get to know him much, you’d like Scout, too.  And if you could only see Mom!  She calls him her grand dog. Who would’ve ever thought?!

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By the way, she misses you the most, of course.  So much so that none of us truly understands.  She’s doing a great job volunteering with hospice and trying to minister to others who are in grief.  Keep praying for her, as I know you are.  It’s hard being the ones left here to press on.

There’s so much more to say, but I’ll end it now.  We’re days from Christmas.  I keep wondering what goes on there while we celebrate Christmas here.  Is it a more special time than other times?  Is it just an eternal Christmas or maybe a certain area of Heaven is designated just for celebrating the birth of Christ?  It’ll be so fascinating to find out.  But here, we’re celebrating the best we know how.  Last year, Grant read “The Night Before Christmas” to the little girls on Christmas Eve, since you weren’t here.  He did ok, so we’ll probably let him do it again. (ha!)

A couple weeks ago, I was shopping in the men’s department and picked up a flannel shirt like you liked and thought to myself, “I’ll get this for Dad for Christmas.”  It took about 3 seconds before reality hit again.  It’s crazy how moments like that happen.  It’s hard and it reminds us of all of the million things we miss.  But most of all, we miss you.  Merry Christmas.  I love you.

Julie

 

Footnote:  Dear friends-  Many of you were with my family and I as we experienced my dad’s life and then his death.  He was the best Christian I’ve ever known and he lived his life for the purpose of bringing glory to God and helping others know Him.  I’ve shared my dad’s story here because, just like my dad would say, he didn’t want to waste any of the trials he went through.  He wanted God’s plan for Him to be accomplished.  It was a very personal and difficult time for us, but we want people to know how God has worked in it and how real He is to us.  This Christmas, if you don’t know Christ as your own Savior, please contact me.  It could be your best Christmas ever.  If you’d like to read more of my writings about my dad, click here.