Today is one of those days that feels as though maybe Mom and Dad may actually be here. I have thought of many things today that are so vivid and so real that it’s difficult to tell where the memory starts and the present begins.

Here is one memory in particular….

Dad had been ill for quite some time. I realize today as I am recovering from bronchitis I never recall him complaining about what he went through. It wasn’t as if he was stoic, he simply enjoyed what he had.

Mom married Dad when she was a young widow with 3 children. Shortly thereafter, she was expecting! She and Dad were excited. However, the child was not born alive. They named him James. I learned about this much later in life, because he would have been older than I, had he lived.

As Mom and I shared memories going to and from the hospital countless times, she told me that when she and Dad prayed at night he always said, “Take care of James and tell him that we love him…” Mom was very surprised, because she said through the years Dad continued to have James in his thoughts. He lingered all the time.

I, on the other hand was an energetic, tag-along. When I was little they named me “Shadow” because I always followed Dad around. The story goes when he was rapidly remodeling the bathroom at the farm I sauntered in one evening in my undies (it was summer and hot). Placing my fists on my hips, I looked around the room and stated, in dismay, “Well, this is a hell-of-a-mess!” Needless to say, Papa had a hard time not laughing, recognizing his own words coming back at him!

Fast forward to his last days. He hated the hospital. He hated being unable to do things. He had always been busy and up before the sun. Two days before he passed, he was frowning at the ceiling in ICU. “This is just boring!” He sounded disgusted. “I can’t do anything I want anymore – and this, this is boring!”

I think he was really trying to tell us he was over it.  That night at their house I prayed and asked God to help him. I asked him if he would please send James to meet Papa and take him home. I didn’t tell anyone this at the time.

The next day Dad had the sweetest conversation with Mom. He told her how much he loved her, cherished her, was so proud of her. It was an intimate and beautiful time. I watched, crying like there was no tomorrow…

After he was satisfied with what he told Mom, he stopped. I was sitting on a chair on the left side of his bed. He was smiling a little, gazing up at the ceiling. Then, in a quieter voice, he said, “I haven’t seen God, but I love him, love him….” Then, his brown eyes locked on mine and he said very clearly, “But, I have seen James.”

I caught my breath. “Wh-what did you say?” I asked, thinking sometimes the medicine makes people hallucinate.

Without blinking, he replied, “I have seen James.”

Of course I was crying. “Is he beautiful?”

Papa nodded.

That was my going away present from my Dad. I know he is with my other brother – and now Mom is there, too. I wonder what it was like when the three of them were together for the first time? It must have been amazing.

In the midst of trials, God is faithful. He supplies what we need. His kindness knows no boundaries. His love is beyond anything we can imagine. Thank you God, for giving me that moment. I will treasure it forever. The gift of that memory is lingering today.

– RG

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