7 years ago yesterday, December 20th, we lost my father.
He was a great man - kind, never speaking ill of anyone that I can remember and always willing to help others. Dad was always there for me and each of my 7 siblings. He would tend grand-kids, help fix cars, help build, remodel or fix something in one of our homes, he helped build dog houses with his grandson, and he would take us sleigh riding in the snow. Summer was never complete without the camping trips to the mountains to teach each of us to fish. He would take my brothers deer hunting in the fall and I always wanted to go, but I was a girl! Dad and mom bought a cabin and we would all gather during the summer time to enjoy the fishing, boating and being with mom and dad! Dad always had treats for us, but he kept them hidden deep in his closet. As the grand-kids came along, he would keep a plastic tub in his room with the treats. The little ones learned quickly where he had then 'hidden'.
We had just had our annual family Christmas party on Saturday evening before Christmas. Dad had not been feeling well so we took him and mom to the party and then back home. (Dad wasn't one to let others drive him places.) Dad had requested a blessing that night with all of us there. All of the priesthood holders helped in giving that blessing. Monday morning, dad called my brother to take him to the hospital. He still wasn't feeling well, in fact we had taken him to the hospital on Friday morning early and they sent him back home.
My brother called from the hospital and I went there. They told us dad had had a mild heart attack and they needed to transfer him to a different hospital, but they were waiting for nursing help. I took mom home to change her clothes and get a quick bite to eat. My cell phone rang and my brother told me dad had just gone into full cardiac arrest! I got mom back in the car and we sped to the hospital. They were never able to revive him. He was gone just like that. I then had the task of contacting my brothers and sisters who all arrived shortly after at the emergency room. We then all gathered at my house including several nieces and nephews. We were all in shock . . . dad had always been the healthy one. We held dad's funeral on the 23rd of December.
Dad loved Christmas and always made it special each year. He would often go with his brothers to cut a Christmas tree. He would always help get lights and ornaments on the tree. Christmas morning, you could barely walk through the living room. We most always would get what we had asked for. As we got older, he would find ways to 'hide' gifts from Santa - like the year I got skis and they were hidden under the table. I was crushed because I didn't see them. I went back to my room, I think in tears. My brother soon followed laughing and told me where my special gift was, under the table. Dad got a good laugh from that one!
As in-laws joined the family, and then grand kids, dad would shower us all with wonderful gifts. I remember the year that Wade's brother was alone at Christmas and mom and dad invited him to spend Christmas morning with us. They made sure that there was a gift for him under the tree as well.
Our oldest daughter lives in Denver and was not going to be home for Christmas that year. I think dad knew how much I wanted my own grand-kids to be with us for the holidays. I think maybe that is why his time to leave us was at his and my favorite time of year.
My nephew read the following poem at dad's funeral.
I'm Spending Christmas with Jesus This Year
I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below,
With tiny lights like Heaven's stars, reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear;
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
But the sounds of music can't compare with the Christmas Choir here.
I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart,
But I am not so far away, we really aren't apart.
I cannot tell you of the splendor or the peace inside this place
Can you imagine Christmas with our Savior, face to face?
I will aks him to light your spirit as I tell him of your love,
So then pray for one another as you lift your eyes above.
So be happy for me, dear ones, you know I hold you dear,
And be glad I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I sent you each a special gift, from my heavenly home above,
I sent you each a memory of my undying love.
After all, love is a gift more precious than pure gold,
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.
Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do,
Fo I can't count the blessings or love he has for each of you.
So have a Merry Christmas adn wipe away the tear.
Remember, I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year!
It was a fitting to a reminder that dad would be with our Savior at Christmas time that year. Now each year my niece reminds us all with Christmas candy and this poem so that none of us will ever forget that special man who taught us all so much in this life. He is now waiting patiently to continue to teach us and preparing a home in heaven.
May we each remember our Savior this Christmas - His humble birth, His life and His teachings and that He gave His life for each of us, the greatest sacrifice that has ever been made for man kind! I know Jesus lives and I know that through Him we can each be with our loved ones again!
Merry Christmas to all!