(Originally Posted April 2016)
Composing this post was particularly difficult as I’ve not been able to shed haunting thoughts of our mortality. Today marks one week since the ventilator was removed from my father, Billy Howard, Sr., when I watched via video chat as he took his final breath. The following is presented in honor of a loving dad with a heavy heart.
We’d spoken just the week prior when he told of his choice to be admitted to a rehabilitation facility where he’d receive more intensive physical therapy. Dad assured the stay would be temporary and it would only be three or four weeks until the start of his journey to a full recovery; after having been in and out of the hospital regularly over the course of several months.
With my father’s assurance that a plan had been initiated to overcome his physical set-back, I embarked on a trip the following week to the northeastern part of the country. While away, I received a message the evening of April 19th advising dad wasn’t doing very well and had to be taken to the hospital’s intensive care unit. For the remainder of the evening and throughout the following morning, a member of the family communicated what was happening concerning our dad’s condition. The message came at 1:16 pm that if anybody wanted to see him they needed to get to the hospital right away and, three minutes later, another simply stating there was nothing more thsy could be done.
Reports were forwarded regarding plans to relocate dad to a private room and then take him off the life-sustaining ventilator. The benefit of modern technology made it possible for me to be in the hospital room throughout the procedure though I was eleven hundred miles away…witnessing as dad passed on from this life April 20th at 2:36 pm. Less than half an hour later, I received partial information regarding the pending arrangements, when it was realized that I’d not be able to get back in time to attend the homegoing service.
No doubt, this experience is one of the hardest things most will endure and nobody seems to ever quite recover from the loss of a parent. We all know death is the one unrelenting aspect of life that has to be encountered by every living being, yet there’s no way to really prepare for it.
As such, I found myself in a rather peculiar situation with life evidently adamant about the course of moving forward regardless of the mourning process. The same was the case as a number of relatives and friends contacted me during the next two days noting a variety of circumstances that wouldn’t allow them availability to be at dad’s homegoing service on such short notice.
Over the course of the following few days, I pondered many thoughts regarding how we manage relationships in general only to reach one conclusion: If people are diligent to always show respect to others and not harbor ill-will in their hearts, nothing more is required. Thankfully, my respect for dad had been effectively displayed on each occasion when visiting him and the love openly communicated every time we spoke. Resolving the best effort must be extended each day beyond what’s expected of us and not to waste time focusing on the past, we have to live the best life possible. Granted, there were issues that could have been different and situations wherein I would have, perhaps, preferred a better outcome but none of that served to diminish the love and respect held for my father by any degree.
The Word (Holy Bible), by which I profess to live, expressly states in Matthew 15:4; “For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.” And in Proverbs 20:20; “If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.” There are a number of bible verses that speak to consequences of cursing, dishonoring, or treating one’s mother or father with contempt.
As children, teenagers, and young adults it’s inevitable that differences develop between youths and their parents. In fact, it’s almost expected as one travels through various stages of development along the road to maturity. As children become adults, eventually marry and have kids of their own, the worst thing they could ever conceive is the concept of “becoming their parents.”
I beg the readers’ pardon for breaking what is usual protocol while offering a dedication to my dad, Billy G. Howard, Sr. and the celebration of his life: April 27, 1940 – April 20, 2016. In life, we glance back to understand the reasons governing past decisions while careful to not lose focus on our purpose in moving forward. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.