Towards the end of each year, I like to try and share something of a summary post. This year is no different, and yet, in other ways, it will never be the same again. This Christmas, for the first time in my life, I’ll be facing the end of the year without my father.
On Friday 2nd December, just a couple of weeks ago, my dad passed away. He had suffered with Parkinson’s Disease for several years, and had deteriorated rapidly in the handful of months since the summertime.
As we prepare for his funeral this week, I was asked to sum up his life in a few short words. “What’s the one thing you would want people to take away from it?”
I answered like this.
He was a “normal” hero – as opposed to a “super” hero. There are no stories of he and I climbing Mount Everest together, nor times we went trekking in the Andes. We just “did life” together, and he was an ever constant presence in my world. He worked hard his whole life, putting food on our table and taking care of us. He enjoyed the simple things in life, and I cannot be more grateful to him.
There are countless lessons he taught me over the years – both directly and indirectly. There are too many for me to share in this one short post, but a few things I must mention.
It is ok to live a normal life
When I was a boy I dreamed of being a police officer, astronaut, fighter pilot and a hundred other things. As I grew, I looked ahead to college and university, and then on to marriage and children. My vision has always been set forward, and I was always “waiting” for my life to begin. When I became a Christian, and really before I knew anything of God, I felt the tug toward ministry. Again, I waited for it to begin, thinking “One day…” I’ll do this or that. In some respects, now I have completed university, have a career, am married with a family, and in small ways I minister in God’s kingdom, I am still looking ahead.
As I reflect on my dad’s life, I now realise it is ok to just be normal. I need not seek fame, fortune, an international ministry or seek ever exciting things to add to my bucket list. Make the most of life – absolutely – but my dad has taught me not to miss today, looking to tomorrow.
Appreciate what you’ve got
Many people lose loved ones having never told them what they really mean to them. While I do not feel as though that was the case for me and my father, the illness he had meant that we lost much valuable time over recent years.
If you have people in your life who you love and care about – tell them so. Don’t waste a day, as life is always shorter than we would like, and opportunities to talk and live with those you love are limited. It is not morbid or dark to say that a time will come when you can no longer tell them (on this Earth) what they mean to you – seize those chances whenever you can. That is one thing my dad has taught me.
There is more I could say – much more, yet a thousand-page post would somehow seem inadequate. I’ll leave you with something that would make my dad smile.
He used to enjoy a TV show called Red Dwarf. Perhaps you’ve never heard of it? It is a sci-fi comedy starring a man who is the last remaining human being alive. This character, Lister, lives abord a spaceship called “Red Dwarf” which is rather loosely controlled by a computer AI called Holly.
In one particular episode Holly, through his ineptitude, endangers the crew and is replaced by a rather stricter computer AI. This new personality forces the crew to work and earn rations, and before long they miss the rather slapdash former AI. In a duel to the death over a chess board, the two AIs battle it out and Holly is no match for his replacement. He is deleted, much to the crew’s sadness. In the final scene of the show, and spoiler alert, Holly appears and admits it has all been a practical joke. He was having them on the whole time. His closing words are very apt for me, and I hope you also:
“The moral of the story is “appreciate what you’ve got…” because, basically, I’m fantastic!” – Holly
I do not know what 2022 has thrown at you, nor what 2023 will bring. Take this advice however, and appreciate what you have.
I will miss you Dad