God is with us during good and bad times

Published 9:25pm Friday, March 25, 2011

“It’s déjà vu all over again,” said Yogi Berra, and I thought about this in January when I sat with the funeral director in Centre to make preparation for my father’s death. Hospice suggested we do so.

The same month in 1994 my dad and I went together to make arrangements for mom. My mother’s cancer was diagnosed the day after Christmas, and it ravaged her for seven weeks before she died in February.

I guess it’s a rite of passage for children to plan their parents’ funerals.

Dad died on March 13. I’ve told people that he had 91 good years out of his 92. His Alzheimer’s was diagnosed in December of 2009, and the last six months of his life was a challenge.

I guess I never thought about my dad dying in such a debilitating way. He was strong and healthy until about 14 years ago when the neurosurgeon found a brain tumor. Dad had lost his sense of smell and when he finally went to the doctor he got this diagnosis.

Surgeons removed about 90 percent of the tumor and pronounced the surgery successful, though another doctor more recently said that the surgery may have accelerated the Alzheimer’s.

My sister is the hero. She told my brother and me that she wanted dad to be home as long as possible. She made this happen, putting her life on hold and spending many days with him. My brother and I did what we could but sister was the commander in chief. When dad died at home, her work was successful.

Dad was employed at U.S. Steel in Birmingham. He worked hard and never expected anyone to give him anything. He’d often lament that the “young bucks” didn’t have the same work ethic as his generation.

He’d come home and get involved in another project at our house or at our church where he served on the maintenance committee.

He proved by example the value of work and raised three children who aren’t lazy.

And he sent us all to college, though he wasn’t able to get much of an education himself.

Dad loved his church and took responsibility until health prevented his attending. He was once asked to be a deacon but humbly said he wasn’t worthy.

Our cousin, a retired pastor, superintended the service on March 19. The 23rd Psalm seemed to take on greater meaning as he read from dad’s Bible.

David affirmed that even though we live under the shadow of death, God is with us.

God was with dad during his illness, and now dad is with God.

This is the simple message of Christian faith.

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