In Honor of my Father, Roger L. Savage
Death will come to us all; no one will escape it. For the Christian, death isn’t a sad occasion-our faith will be made sight! Yet, can you image the sight of Jesus? My heart yearns for the day to see my Beloved Savior! As the old hymn sang, “What a day, glorious day that will be!” Although Heaven is my father’s final destination, I still grieve. I grieve for the relationship we never had-the father/daughter relationship I desperately wanted.
As I watched the snow fall upon the ground through the hospital window, I didn’t want to face reality-my father is dying. Time was slipping away, opportunity was gone, and only memories or regrets would remain. As I reflected upon the past, it seemed the bad out weighted the good. Although the past was forgiven; the present wasn’t made whole-healing wasn’t finished. Maybe the winter cold numbed my heart since my feet were frozen-I felt nothing inside. As I turned to watch my father sleep, I just stared at him. I wanted the moment to be captured within my heart and forever in my mind. As he slept to escape the physical pain, I silently held mine. No words could express what I really wanted to say, so I was silent. Silence keep me company but words would have healed my soul. As the clocked ticked away, so did the opportunity to ask my dad, “Are you proud of me?” “Was I ever the apple of your eye?” Those questions would go unanswered, I couldn’t ask him. My father was too weak to fight the cancer anymore, he is fading away. Fading from this life but not my heart.
If I could hold time still, I would. During the final visit with my dad, I decided to treasure each moment with him. When he talked, I listened to his voice to remember how it sounded. Holding his hands, I would caress to bring him some relieve, peace, and assurance I was there. The precious moments, the sound of his voice, and holding his hand brought me some closure. As each night ended with “Give me a kiss!” I gently would kiss his head a little longer each night, I didn’t want it to end. Although the snow was deep, the stress level was high, the journey home brought a powerful truth-how fleeting is life. It made me reflect upon my father’s life, our relationship, and a new beginning.
My father lived his last name to the fullest; anyone who knew my father would testify to this. With all of the stories of the farm or teenage mischief, my father was the ornery one. My belly hurt sometimes with those timeless stories with his siblings, he always could make me laugh. It’s what I will cherish the most. Besides the time he allowed me to put hair barrettes in his hair, that was hilarious! Oh, if I could have some more good times but the past would show a different tale. Alcohol stole most of my childhood, it was a difficult tale for sure. Although my childhood drama led me to Christ, it was a lonesome walk. It was a very difficult journey as I grew in Christ, my father wasn’t receptive or willing to listen to the Gospel. It was especially hard to follow the call of God to become a minister without his blessing or support. As my commitment remained stern to the call of Christ, my father later accepted it during my sophomore year. With a letter, I was overjoyed to receive his approval. As I continued to walk with Christ, my father started to realize how painful the past was. We had a powerful conversation between us, seeking for forgiveness. It was the start of healing, a process we need to begin.
Yet I wanted my father to understand God’s truth, to be born again, and be made whole. Sadly, our relationship was never close, we walked different roads but I never stopped praying for his salvation. However, I could see God working through his life and the Spirit of God drawing him.
Sometimes, we don’t realize the value of our prayers for un-saved loved ones-they are so vital. As I reflected upon my father’s life, I was so grateful to have battled the trenches to see it complete. I wouldn’t trade it for a moment-not one prayer! One night while in college, the Lord awaken me to pray for someone who was suicidal. The burden was so heavy, I couldn’t shake it. No matter how long or strong I prayed, it wouldn’t lift. So, I called my aunt to pray with me until it left, God never told me who it was for. As I arrived home from Christmas break, my father shared his depression and wanting to commit suicide-it was the same night I was awaken to pray. As I shared the Gospel again and the story of what happened in college, my father turned away again.
We must understand the enemy wants our loved ones, he wants to destroy their lives. Besides destroying their lives on earth, he wants their soul. It’s a war we are called to fight, a fight to pray for our families or dearest friends. If we don’t have a burden for our immediate family, how can we have a burden for the world? If we want a harvest, we have to plant the seed. We are not responsible for the growth or the response, we are responsible to plant.
During those years of prayer for my father, I had a deep desire-I wanted to be personally lead him to Christ. Oh, I admit I didn’t care who lead my father to Christ but it was a deep desire of mine. Much to my surprise, God granted this desire-I will never forget it! I will praise His name forever! God loving so answers the deepest desires of our hearts. When my father first got diagnosed with cancer, my mother and I led him to Christ. It was a joyous moment! The angels of glory couldn’t have shouted louder than me! I was over the moon!
Now I was empty with no feeling inside as I watched my father sleep. All of my expectations for our relationship was fading; fading faster than I could imagine. As my father slept, my sister and I had to prepare the journey of father’s final days. As the doctor shared the news, my heart was depleted. Reality was hitting me in the face, I didn’t want to awaken to it. Nothing more could be done to medically assist my father, so we had to honor him now. Too sick to receive hospice care, my father had to be placed in a nursing home since my sister and I live out of state. It was the most difficult decision of my life but it was for his best interest and care. So, we had to clean his apartment, it was no small undertaking because my father is a pack-rat!
During the move, I stumbled upon a piece of paper in my father’s nightstand. I was so surprised at the words it was entitled, “My Million Dollar Dolls.” As I read it, I was so touched of the tender words my father described my sister and I. As I read the note, it brought so much healing to my soul. Each word described our differences and similarities but a love from a father’s heart. Although my father was too weak to speak it, he spoke what I needed to hear. God does all things beautiful, perfect, and with loving care-I found the letter. As I read each word, my heart began to realize how much my father thought of me and how much he loved me, “I was worth a million dollars to him!”
My heart still grieves over the relationship we didn’t have on earth but I have peace about it. Heaven will give us plenty of time to catch up! Although my father accepted Christ at the ending of his journey, I will rest that love keeps no record of wrongs; grace erases it. Mercy approved a place for my father to be-the blood of Christ paid for it.
As I silently watch you sleep,Your earthly journey is about to end.
May your soul Our Savior keep.
May your soul Our Savior keep.
The moment God calls you to ascend.
It’s a moment, we all must face.
Only in Christ can the sting escape.
Death has no victory; no power to hold thee captive.
No longer are you called a savage.
With the Spirit of Christ your spirit is sealed,
So your salvation will be revealed.
It’s a precious moment; a celebrated time.
Even when the church bells chime.
Oh Death where is your sting?
No power can you hold to ring!
Jesus, my Savior, stole thy power!
His love shouts even louder.
Love surrounds your soul,
It’s so hard to let you go.
My father I want you to know,
I love you so.
Accept the Savior’s hand,
Walk with Him to the Promised Land.
One day we will reunite
When my faith shall be sight.