I am writing today with a heavy heart because it marks the 10 year anniversary of my sweet dad’s death.
It doesn’t seem possible that my dad has been gone for so long. He seems so alive in my heart, my mind, and my thoughts. Not a day goes by without thinking of him or saying something that he would find funny or finding myself using one of his many beloved phrases.
I absolutely love the times when God blesses me with someone who either looks like him or has his same mannerisms. I never take these moments for granted. I feel so blessed for the brief encounter, as I feel like I have spent that time with my dad. I am sure that seems weird, but I believe God meets our specific needs in life in mysterious ways. I may not even realize I needed that moment with my dad, but I never walk away without feeling thankful for it.
I can remember one day vividly when God gave me one of these brief moments in the grocery store last year. I was having a tough day and I was in the produce isle. I had noticed this sweet gentleman who had the same stocky figure wearing a flannel shirt similar to what my dad would have worn. As I noticed his face, my bewilderment only grew deeper. Oh my gosh, he had the same hair color, the same hair cut and similar glasses to what my dad had worn. No, this couldn’t be possible? This man looked so much like my dad, he could have been a twin.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I completely lost focus on what I was doing and discretely watched him in complete amazement. As I continued to watch him, I learned that not only did he look like my dad, but even had the same gentle mannerisms. All I could do was thank God for my brief encounter with my dad.
It was a moment in life I could never have planned for, hoped for, but yet God allowed me to experience and I will always hold that experience in my heart as a sweet memory and moment in time.
My friend, you may never know how you will touch or impact someone else’s life because He places people in our lives and we may never even know it. This gentleman will never know how much he touched my heart that day in the produce isle of a grocery store. Likewise, the sweet nurse at my dad’s nursing home will never know how much she touched mine and my mom’s heart the day she left a fresh white rose on my dad’s bed.
See, what you don’t know about my story is that my dad had to be put into a nursing home because he was having debilitating seizures as a result of his traumatic brain injury he sustained during the Vietnam War. This brain injury brought on early onset dementia and as the years went on, my dad forgot who I was, except for the last day I saw him. There was a moment on his last day that he looked at me and called me by the nick name he had given me when I was a child. I will never forget that sweet moment. God blessed me with this special time because I could never have asked or wished for it.
When we left him we knew he wasn’t doing well, but my mom wasn’t prepared to stay the night because she didn’t have her own medicine she would have needed to take that night and even the next day, so we knew choosing to rent a hotel room to stay with him wasn’t an option that day. Mom lived an hour and half away from him to include you had to drive through the mountains to get to there. Where mom lived, it could be raining, but during the winter months, you could encounter a severe snow storm going through the mountains, which is what happened that night to us after we got home. The weather forecast the night after we left my dad was for not only a snow storm but an ice storm too. Unfortunately, the forecast stood true. When we got up this morning 10 years ago my mom received a phone call from my dad’s nurse to tell her it was only a matter of time before he passed and there was nothing we could do. Had it only stayed a snow storm we would have trekked through the snow and the mountains to get to my dad, but with the ice, it was too dangerous. We couldn’t, we just couldn’t get back to my dad. It breaks my heart to have not been with him the day he died, but we couldn’t risk our lives to get back there. Thankfully, God knew our hearts and He knew we would have been there if we could have been. I believe He knew that which is why not only did we have a snowstorm, but God stepped up the storm making it an ice storm too. He knew we would have attempted to get through the snow storm to get to my dad.
This is why we didn’t get back to the nursing home to find that precious white rose until the day after my dad died. To the nurse who went above and beyond your job by leaving that pretty white rose on my dad’s bed for my mom, thank you! Your thoughtfulness to think of this will be forever embedded in my heart.
As I am remembering my dad today, my encouragement is to remind you that life is precious and valuable. If you still have your parents consider going to them today and give them a hug and tell them you love and appreciate them. If you are like me, and you don’t live close to them, try calling and tell them this same thing.
If you do not have your parents any longer consider this simple thought as you are out and about living your life and possibly doing something as mundane as running errands, you will never know how much your actions or gestures could touch someone else’s life. People are always watching us, even though you likely will never know it. Be mindful today of your actions whether they are with your family or friends or total strangers. Allow God to use you today to touch someone’s life. You may never know it, but you could leave a lasting impact on someone today so allow yourself to be that blessing God has planned for someone else.