This post is the twenty-first in a series, “Lessons from my Father, Lewis Marler,” who lived from 1921-1998. He died 12 years ago today.
I’ve been thinking about you tonight on the twelfth anniversary of your death. I am on a 16 hour night shift responding to a variety of crises at the hospital where I am a chaplain.
One family just lost their mother and grandmother. As I walked up the stairs to be with them, I remembered again that your shoes touched these same steps twenty or thirty years ago when you visited your church members here. I stopped in the stairwell and thanked God for the thousands of hospital visits you made in your fifty-year ministry in Alabama. Another young woman’s father was dying and I tried to be comforting to her. I know what it’s like to lose a father.
I wish you were here to visit these families with me. We would have fun together. I would love to hear your soothing voice and watch you make eye contact with the family members as you gently entered the room. In fact, I thought I heard your voice in my own a few minutes ago when I gathered the extended family of twenty persons around the bedside of their beloved who had died as we all held hands, and I prayed while they whispered their own prayers to God to help them through this difficult time of grief.
I also wish you were here so that you could know Mary, Brendan, and Kiki. You would love them so much, and I have no doubt they would love you. They came into my life about four years after your death. Brendan and Kiki are both in college and doing well. It is so much fun to watch them grow into responsible, loving adults. They are a gift from God.
I want you to know that all those prayers you prayed for me when I was going through difficult times in my first marriage were answered. Not only did I get through that time, but now I have a happy, healthy marriage with my soulmate, Mary Sullivan. I have never been happier in my entire life. You would be so proud of her in the way that she guides people to connect with God in her vocation as an author, facilitator and spiritual companion.
Thank you for modeling for me what it means to be a good husband and father. I’m trying to do the same.
Finally, I want to say thank you for loving me the way you did. You helped me to believe in myself and to believe in a loving God. Your legacy of love lives on. I am proud to be your son.
I love you,
P.S. I’ve enclosed a picture of the four of us in Brendan’s dorm room at Auburn.