This post is the twenty-third 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.
My father’s physician called a local hospice and my dad was headed home from the hospital in an ambulance. A hospital bed was delivered along with oxygen and other equipment. It was the Friday of Memorial Day weekend in 1998, like today, and I was prepared for a long stay at my parent’s home.
Later that evening, the hospice nurse sat down with Jimmie (my stepmom) and me in the living room. After going over some of the services provided, she put down her pen and said, “I don’t know how long Mr. Marler will live, but I think it will be days rather than weeks.”
At that moment, I made a personal decision that I was not going to be a chaplain to my dad. Instead, I was going to be Lewis Marler’s boy during these last days.
I was going to feel all of the experience for however long it lasted.
There were no goodbyes when my mother suddenly died. I vowed this time would be different. I was determined to walk into this experience with my eyes, ears, and heart wide open.
I knew it was going to hurt deeply, but with God’s help I was going to feel it. I wanted the experience to soak into the pores of my skin so that I would never forget it. I wanted to walk through this valley with him. And somehow I knew that we would be ok.
The next couple of days with my dad were the most sacred, spiritually healing experience of my life. Why?
I saw him walk through the valley of the shadow of death and not be afraid.
I experienced his love when I needed him most in my life without holding anything back.
It was time for us to walk these last days together.
My father taught me so.