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.