This post is the twenty-fourth in a series, “Lessons from my Father, Lewis Marler,” who lived from 1921-1998. He died 12 years ago on Memorial Day, May 26, 1998.
As part of the hospice care at home for my father, we stopped all of his twenty-four medications except for those that helped to control his pain. Our goal was to keep him as alert and comfortable as possible.
On Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend in 1998, we were given a gift.
The veil lifted that had clouded my father’s mind and we had a window of opportunity for communication that was present for about 36 hours. I have no doubt the dozens of medicines that he had been prescribed by six specialists over the last few years had contributed to his confusion. But most of all, I was thankful for the opportunity to have deep, meaningful conversations with my dad.
I pulled out one of my childhood scrapbooks and climbed into the bed with him. I sat him up and held him against my chest like he used to do for me when I was a little boy when he would read to me in bed.
As we turned the pages, we remembered when I was in the sixth grade and he volunteered to substitute for my football coach in a game when my coach was sick.
He added specific details like, “I remember telling Craig Kenmore what kind of play I wanted us to run and Craig would know which play was like it in your playbook. He would run into the huddle and call the play. He chuckled and added, “That was a lot of fun. And we won that game.”
There were many light, giggling moments for us to share and laugh together.
We also talked about sad and challenging times in our lives like my mother’s death, or when he made the decision to accept a new job in Gardendale, AL just before I would have entered high school in Montgomery. We both agreed though despite those hardships, having Jimmie come into our lives and my experience at Gardendale High School worked out better than either of us could have imagined.
We apologized and asked forgiveness of one another for the times we both fell short in our relationship over the years. We acknowledged the shortcomings without discounting them, and forgave each other fully.
I turned him in the bed so that I could see his eyes and said, “Do you know how much I have always loved you? You have been such an incredible father to me. Thank you.” Tears streamed down both of our cheeks. I felt so alive.
My father was an encourager and life coach to me. He encouraged me to be myself, to discover my own gifts, and to choose my own destiny.
And now it was his turn. I coached and encouraged him as best I could.
It was the natural and loving thing to do.
My father taught me so.