Monday, May 16, 2011

I lost my Dad today



My father hadn't felt well for the last 18 months struggling with heart related issues. Without getting in to much detail, he had several dizzy spells last Wednesday and so went to the hospital where things seemed to digress over a few days reaching it's worse point this morning when his heart stopped. He was just shy of his 80th birthday.

I know lots of people have had poor fathers, maybe even mean ones. Too many have had no fathers in their life. I talk to quite a few people who have lots of emotional baggage because of things their father did or didn't do. I think having a faithful, loving, father is rare. While I understand the laments of those who suffered under bad dads, I'm not such a victim. My dad was awesome. No, he wasn't even near perfect and did his share of boneheaded things, he would tell you the same. But I'm being straight up when I tell you he was a great dad to me. He was a model of hard work, loyalty, sticking up for what you believe, and not taking yourself too seriously. My dad was always joking around.

Dad and mom moved to KC to be closer to us about 5 years ago. It was a big step for my dad having lived in the Western New York area for most of his 74 years when they came here. He knew how much it meant to my mother to live near the grand kids. My dad was your classic Italian Roman Catholic. Up until about 15 years ago he never missed Mass. He would tell you he was a Christian, but couldn't articulate what that meant beyond saying he was Catholic. I went through an obnoxious stage of trying to "get him saved". I meant well, but looking back, I think he trusted Christ for his life and eternity, but as so many Roman Catholics are, he was biblically illiterate beyond some basic truths. My mother convinced him to start attending a bible-preaching church in Western New York and we all noticed a huge change in his spiritual sensitivity. He started expressing his faith in Christ and interest in learning what Scripture taught. When they moved to Kansas City, Mom and Dad jumped in to the life of Redeemer immediately. One of the most moving days of my life was hearing my father give his testimony of faith in Christ to the elders of Redeemer to join the church. Most evangelicals, with all due respect, don't think too much of church membership and changing churches. For a Roman Catholic of 75 years to leave the Pope and join one of Luther's schismatic sects...that's huge. He did so with complete confidence in Christ and God's call on his life. The last 5 years of my father's life were spent growing in Christ and serving the Church in all sorts of ways. The men of Redeemer, especially a few select ones, showed special respect and care for my dad and he was overwhelmed with their love. I love many things about Redeemer, but the way this congregation has loved my parents staggers me. Every Sunday we have dinner with my parents, my father would have many things to say about the wonderful people of Redeemer on a regular basis.

We are all grieved. I'm an emotional basket case making all sorts of decisions I usually just give advice to mourning families concerning. It's a strange maze to navigate. My mother is a strong lady, but she just lost her partner of 41 plus years. It's tough, I won't lie. He wasn't doing great leading in to this, but his drop off was pretty sudden and shocking. Your mind plays tricks with you regarding the "what if's".

I'm sure I'll blog more about my father and the great memories I have of him. For now I'll sign off by giving genuine praise to God for blessing me with such a wonderful dad. My children love him as "Pepa" and are heartbroken about his passing. My wife was one of his favorite people on earth. He affectionately called her "daughter in law" all the time. Dad was one of a kind, well loved by his wife, and fondly considered by many. Even his outspoken crazy ideas were expressed humorously and with self-deprecation. I'm just totally confident in his presence with Christ right now. He didn't trust any of his own righteousness to be right with God. Dad knew Christ and rested in Him. It's been a hard day, but a good day. I miss my dad.

22 comments:

Rick Calohan said...

It’s has been a little over 9 ½ years ago when I lost my dad, he was diagnosed with lung cancer on September 11, 2001, my parents had celebrated their 35th anniversary on May 13th, he was complaining of severe headaches and thought his sinusitis was the cause. Then on July 4th he told me he had quit smoking and drinking coffee, and then labor day weekend he lost his balance, he had went to chiropractors, and thought maybe was something out of alignment, so I his only child took him to a doctor to get blood work and x-rays, which was probably his first since his Army physical 41 years earlier. Then on the fateful morning of September 11, 2001, I took my dad to the pulmonary specialist, who confirmed our worse fears. After getting hospice set up and being at his bedside for his final month, I learned more about my dad and God’s grace in that final month then in my entire life.

These next few days will be perhaps the hardest, lots of thoughts, prayers, intercession, decisions, lost nights of sleep, being there for your mom, and family, and of course making arrangements, it will be like a blur, but take heart you are not alone.

Your dad was always a delight to be around with and a joy to talk to, he always had a kind word to say about my wife, and my sons, he reminded me of so many of his generation that I knew from my previous church it must be a Sicilian thing thus why I always referred to him as Don Felich, he earned it.

If there is anything you need please let us know.

Our sincerest condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Felich family during your time of mourning may God’s Grace and Peace be with you and may He grant you strength and courage through this difficult time.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. - Matthew 5:4

jeff said...

Thank you for sharing this Tony. What a great testimony! We are praying that the Lord will surround you and your family with His love, comfort, and peace in your time of grief. We are rejoicing in the fact that your Dad is with he Lord even now!

Nathan said...

Tony, your dad meant so much to me personally and I struggle with his not being with us.
I have seen the miracle of God's salvation up close and personal in your dad's life. I have many memories that I was pondering when I couldn't sleep last night. I can't recount all of them here but the memories are deep and will endure. I have witnessed so much the way in which a vital relationship with Christ can be lived out in such a humble way in your dad. It has been wonderful to see your dad blossom and grow at Redeemer over the last 5 years. I see what true fellowship in Christ looks like when I see his friendships with so many men at church. He has impacted so many lives here in in Kansas. I treasure the privilege of knowing him for so long. Seeing him with your boys and Willow and knowing of his love for them brings me such joy.
I know that I will have more to say on Friday morning as we celebrate his home life. May our grief in his departure turn to joy in his home going as he is with His Lord.

Lyle Burton said...

Great post, Tony. "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him." Nahum 1:7

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, Tony. It is a great tribute to your father and to our Father who transforms us in Christ. Blessings on you during this time of sorrow - may God fill you with His love and comfort. - Bill Cumbie

Shane Richardson said...

Please know that I, and all of us here at Bott Radio Network are praying for you and your family during this difficult time. May our loving Father in Heaven give you the peace that comes with a hope beyond this life, and the joy of the memories that come from a father who knew the ultimate Father.

Shane Richardson

Pugherder said...

Great tribute, Tony. God be with you all in difficult days ahead. Ultimately, by God's grace, you do not grieve as those who are without hope. Glory to God for His truly amazing Grace!

Malcolm said...

What joy it was to have Tony as part of the flock. I will never forget him. You are blessed by great memories of him. No father could get a finer compliment than what you just gave him. I pray that my sons will feel the same about me. Your relationship with him, and him with you is an example for all of us to follow.

Greg Vanden Heuvel said...

Thank you for sharing this. I had gotten to know Tony, Sr. a little in our short time at Redeemer. He truly showed the love of Christ in his friendliness and demeanor. He reminded me that the God who created the heavens and earth, also created laughter and joy, and that we should not miss the simple pleasures of enjoying our families. What a blessing to have had such a father. We are praying for you and your family.

Patty Nelson said...

Tony, I am so sorry at the loss of your Dad. The Lord was truly gracious to you, blessing you with such a wonderful Dad. My prayers go out for you and your family during this time. Patty Nelson

Scott Creecy said...

Tony, I praise God for his orchestrating your parents moving to KS to be near you! I praise God for the work He did in your Dad's life, and I praise God for the honor of getting to know your Dad over these last few years.

He will be sorely missed, but the work that God did through him, even through the stories that you share with us about him, will live on in our memories as stones of remembrance about God's faithfulness and grace. Losing a parent is a particularly painful time in life, and Carmen and I will be praying for you and your family as you go through these next days, weeks, and months. Lean on Christ and lean on those whom He has placed around you for your edification.

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints."- Ps. 116:15

Also, 1 Thess. 4:13-18.

God is Sovereign!
Scott

Zach said...

My deepest condolences, Tony and family. May your dad rest in the peace of Christ, and may that same peace guard your hearts in the days to come.

Woody Woodward said...

You know Pastor, Cheri and I both share the same feelings about our dear Tony. We weren't that far away in age, but to both of us, he just felt like Dad. The wonderful, loving laughing father both of us wanted growing up. What a blessed homecoming we know was waiting for him in Glory. I bet the Lord Jesus was the first to welcome him saying, "Welcome MY son, Come with Me and let’s walk together. Look around at the tomatoes in MY Garden. I got a job for you right here my dear Saint Tony."

This happens to be Reepichep's blogg #1300

Roger Mann said...

Kelly and I are both grieving with you and your family, and are so sorry for your loss. I lost my mother a few years ago, shortly after her 80th birthday, and it's a pain you can't fully comprehend until you go through it yourself. Your words about your father brought tears to my eyes...you and your whole family have been truly blessed! Praise God for giving you such a great dad! I pray that the Lord will strengthen and comfort you all during this difficult time. Please don't hesitate to call if we can help in any way.

Kristin mcginnis said...

Thinking about and praying for all of you...

Kampfgruppe-H said...

Brother,
We only had the blessing of knowing your dad for a few short years, but it was truly a blessing. I'll never forget sitting around the dinner table at your house and swapping war stories with him. He shared his Korean War experience with me and I shared Afghan-Iraq with him. From my foxhole, I'll always look up to those guys who have gone before me, these our my heroes--Brothers in Arms. However, more importantly, he's our Brother in Christ.

carol lague said...

We are so sad alongside you!

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus and His righteousness...

So

is

yours!!

Regina said...

Tony, what a blessing that you have such fond memories of your Dad. He has left a wonderful legacy. Our fervent prayers are with you, Shari & the kids, your Mom, Tara and everyone else affected by his passing.

Jack Sawyer said...

Losing a loved one (even in the Lord) is some tough stuff. While our future hope certainly mitigates the grief, the grief is still pressing. Death is a rude enemy, even if it is a defeated enemy. God's grace to you and your family as you face these challenging times.

Ray and Janell said...

We love you and your family very much.

Will said...

I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of your father. May the Lord be with you and your family.

Penelope said...

Wow! I'm amazed that you were able to write. Indeed you were blessed to have a great dad for such a long time. Sorry for your loss!