When I think of my Dad, there is a picture that often comes to mind. As a child I remember looking up at him working in the yard, his sleeves rolled up and sweat on his brow. And I thought: no one was as strong, no one was as tall, and no one was as noble as he.
My Dad was my lifeline. As a child, I feared the loss of my parents and that I would be left to face this world alone: no experience, no wisdom, no security. When I became a young adult and moved out of the house, I kept that lifeline within reach. Once my wife and I were married and started a family of our own, I knew I could reach out to that lifeline if I needed to. And when Mom passed away, I still had Dad: my lifeline.
For the past several years, Dad and I have spent a great deal of time together; time I would not trade for anything in this world. You see, in many ways my Dad was still my lifeline, and in many ways I was his. Whenever I was troubled, I could talk with him and he would advise me and pray with me. When I was ill, he would sit by my side. When he became dependent on me for certain tasks and he would tell me, “Tom, I don’t know what I’d do without you,” I still looked to him for his consistency in faith and love; he was still my lifeline.
That last Monday night I sat on his bed at his side and we discussed what we had many times. “Dad, I need to know, between you and me. If your heart and/or your lungs stop functioning, what do you want me to do?” With resolve, he looked into my eyes and said, “Tom, I’m ready to go.” So when the moment came and the room filled with medical staff and all eyes were on me for a decision, I realized that I had to let go. By holding on to the lifeline, I would be holding him back. So I took hold of his hand, told him I loved him and let go of the lifeline.
He was my example, my mentor, my friend, my father and he is still the tallest and most noble man I have ever had the privilege of knowing; and I get to call him my Dad.