on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

A Peace Beyond Understanding

This post is the twenty-fifth 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.

On the Sunday before Memorial Day, my father became weaker and was not able to respond verbally anymore.

His breathing was shallow and he slowly slipped into a coma.  The hospice nurse came by and made sure that he was not in any pain or discomfort and adjusted his morphine drip.

As the night hours stretched into the early morning, I sat by his bed wondering what I could do besides hold his hand.

I decided to sing some of his favorite Gospel hymns at the bedside.  I apologized before I began, and said, “Dad, I am going to sing, but you know that singing isn’t my best gift.  But I figure if it is from my heart you won’t mind much.”

And so I began singing just above a whisper, “Amazing Grace.”  I sang one of his favorites, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” because he had requested it in church services.  I got even closer and pressed my forehead against his and sang softly “Jesus Loves Me.”  I learned this song in church as a little boy.  The words came from my memory bank.  I quoted verses from the Bible he had taught me like John 3:16, and others.

I put my head on his chest and closed my eyes, listening to his heart beat.

The next thing that happened is difficult to describe.  For what seemed like a second or two, a crystal clear image flashed through my mind.

I observed my father in his hospital bed with me sitting at his side.  We were in a room, almost like a gymnasium with a running track suspended above us.  The track was filled with family and friends standing motionless shoulder to shoulder, leaning over the rail watching.  I thought I saw my mother, my grandparents, my father’s siblings, and many others whom I recognized had gone before him.

No one said anything, and I wasn’t frightened. I felt peaceful like they were waiting and that my father would be with them soon.  I opened my eyes and wondered at what I had just experienced.

Now I know some people will read this and scoff at this description.  But it really doesn’t matter to me.  I do not need to justify or interpret it.  The image gave me peace, and I am thankful for it.

It was a peace that was beyond understanding.

And I realized . . .

My father taught me so.


  1. kathy thomson

    I love this, and it brings me great, great comfort, hope and peace.

  2. Melissa

    Thanks, Malcolm. I believe our fathers must have been a lot alike, and so I’m grateful to you for sharing from your heart about what you learned from your dad. My dad died – at UAB – 10 years ago following brain surgery on a glioblastoma that seemed to come out of nowhere. It was a long, six weeks of waiting. I had a similar moment with my father as the one you describe – very powerful! He loved Christmas, and so I tend to remember him even moreso this time of year. He taught me many wonderful things…thanks for shasring and enabling these thoughts. Peace and blessings for a wonderful Christmas…Melissa

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