Four Words

Dear Dad,

My job is to find words to explain things to people. That’s what I do from 8 to 3, three days a week. But as I’ve faced this past week, I’ve had very few. The only ones that keep coming back to me are these: Laughter. Singing. Faithfulness. Satisfied.

Laughter. Your laugh was the biggest one I ever heard. It was free and full and filled the room. I remember someone once doing a double-take when I was young, uncertain if a laugh that loud could be real. It was real. And I grew up hearing it because you saw the humor in everything. You laughed when you won a game of Uno and ribbed Mum a little too much and she hit you over the head with the scorebook. We laughed when you didn’t realize your fly was open until after you skied to the bottom of the mountain. And you always laughed when the older ladies at church would ask you to retell the story about when Mum didn’t have enough time to bake a second birthday cake after the kitchen ants had gotten to yours. The secret would have been kept if I hadn’t been intent on eating it anyway, only stopping to crush one on my plate as I muttered, “There’s one that lived.” You knew how to laugh.

Singing. Sometimes I felt that if you weren’t laughing you were singing, whether it was a made up song about making it to the bathroom in time, or something that reminded you of Jesus. I loved hearing you when we sang in the church choir together, you always just behind me singing baritone as I tried to learn the alto part. Last night when they started singing, “Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful day” at church, I could hear your voice. I remember exactly how you entered that line, full of joy.

These last days were marked by your singing as well. A week ago you sang in church and realized that you were too sick to continue this way. Every day in the hospital you sang “There is a Hope.” You made the ICU a holy place. Jesse, your nurse, commented this morning how much you sang. I was blessed to be there to hear you.

Faithfulness. You have been so faithful, Dad. When you made a promise you kept it, no matter the personal cost. When you saw a need you filled it, no matter how inconvenient it was to you. You served Jesus, your family, and your church well. Those who knew you will be able to tell their own stories of your faithful friendship and care, but for me, I will always remember the kind and faithful way you helped me learn how to grieve my mother even as you worked through your own loss. You understood what I needed, maybe sometimes even more than I did, and you did everything you could to provide it for me. When I was in college, you faithfully called me every Wednesday and Sunday night for four years. (I never told you that my roommates tried to be present for those conversations because my full Maine accent would return for that hour). You were faithful, Dad.

Satisfied. These last days as I sat with you in your hospital room I heard you tell people over and over that you were satisfied with your life. The many unexpected turns your life too were all, as you looked back on them, satisfying. You talked about 1 Peter 3:15 as being an important verse, and that your reason for hope was the many ways God had satisfied you.

Dad, it is clear to me that you were satisfied because you could always find a reason to laugh. Because you always knew the right song for the occasion. Because you were faithful. And I hope the first words Jesus said to you were, “Well done, good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of your master.”

It has been hard to watch the changes over the past few days, but I wouldn’t give up the privilege of watching you prepare to meet Jesus for anything. You are truly home.

I love you, Dad.

There is a Hope (Stuart Townsend)

There is a hope that burns within my heart,
That gives me strength for every passing day;
A glimpse of glory now revealed in meagre part,
Yet drives all doubt away:
I stand in Christ, with sins forgiven;
And Christ in me, the hope of heaven!
My highest calling and my deepest joy,
To make His will my home.

There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
A consolation strong against despair,
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit,
I find the Saviour there!
Through present sufferings, future’s fear,
He whispers ‘courage’ in my ear.
For I am safe in everlasting arms,
And they will lead me home.

There is a hope that stands the test of time,
That lifts my eyes beyond the beckoning grave,
To see the matchless beauty of a day divine
When I behold His face!
When sufferings cease and sorrows die,
And every longing satisfied.
Then joy unspeakable will flood my soul,
For I am truly home
When sufferings cease and sorrows die,
And every longing satisfied.
Then joy unspeakable will flood my soul,
For I am truly home

2 thoughts on “Four Words

  1. Karen,
    This is absolutely beautiful. God bless you. I have no doubt he is as full of pride for you where he watches from now, as he was every day he was with you.


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