May 31, 2012
For days I have known I had something to say but I could not bring myself to write the words. Almost as if writing about it made it real. If I could just wake up maybe I would realize this is all a bad dream but as the days wear on I know things will never be the same.
Fourteen days ago I lost a piece of my heart.
It’s been exactly fourteen days since my father, Larry Albin Wilson flew away. He was just seventy-three years old. Not old at all by some standards but when anyone you love crosses that seventy marker you know they have beaten the odds.
Still nothing prepares you to say goodbye to someone so close.
I come from a family of farmers. We are the real deal.
My grandfather started the farm I grew up on. Dad took over the reins his senior year of high school after his father passed away. Now my brother and his sons continue on.
Originally a dairy farm, Dad is a master at sensing when the tide is about to change.
He switched from a dairy farm to pork production in the seventies and when pork prices tanked he and my brother turned their attention to row crop production.
Dad always diversifies. He’s never had just one source of income.
He is innovative, always trying something new and never afraid to break something apart to make it better or more efficient.
One of nine children, five boys and four girls, he stepped into the shoes of his father rather than attending college as he intended but never seemed regretful of the path that was set before him.
He has the mind of an engineer, building and developing projects that peaked the interest of the local media from time to time.
He is a real trailblazer.
I have never spent a single day that I was not proud to be his daughter and I boast often that my dad is one of the smartest people anyone will ever know.
As I try to cope and wrap my mind around my world without his presence I simply can’t bring myself to think of him in the past tense.
You see… it occurred to me as I worked in my garden the other day… Daddy is closer than ever.
Dad loves my garden and I love sharing it with him.
Last year I couldn’t wait to show him how I had laid out the rows and what I had planted. The tiller I use was the last thing he put together for me. Of course it’s an older model with a few modifications but I doubt I will ever use anything else. It is way too special.
As I worked, thinking over the things I would not get to show him, I began to talk to him. I had told some of those closest to him to do the same. I wanted to offer a degree of comfort to those who spoke with him most everyday.
There is one young man in particular, he thought of my Dad almost like a second father. He and my Dad both love to learn and to talk about what they know.
Dad is much older than him so I am sure he never thought he had much to teach my Dad but Daddy is a person who assumes everyone has something to offer. He listens with intent interest to anyone who will take the time to visit. Dad reads constantly, not for pleasure as most do but to learn, because learning is his pleasure.
When I saw this young man at the memorial, he broke my heart. I knew well the relationship he had with my father and I grieved for him.
At one point I pulled him aside and told him something I told only a few others, I didn’t mind sharing my Dad with him.
Sharing Daddy is something I have gotten use to.
Over the years we have never had him to ourselves. He is simply not that kind of guy.
I have several cousins that lost their dad when we were all very young. They were the first I grew accustomed to sharing Daddy with but over the years there have been many others. I can’t say I was gracious to them all. Some seemed to take and never give but Daddy never seemed to mind.
As I stood talking with those closest to my Dad something else occurred to me.
Dad is still with us. Not just in the way he influenced us over the years but with us… really with us.
Didn’t Paul write in Hebrews about a cloud of witnesses?
This was something that had occurred to me years ago but many would disagree when I suggested those who have left this life are watching us from the next.
They would typically respond, if heaven is a place of pure joy without tears and struggles, how can we expect those who have already gone on to look back to the sadness of a fallen world?
It is just in the last few days that I think I am finally beginning to understand.
We are told in scripture that after death we will be like Christ. Does that mean we will be able to see the whole picture of what this life holds and not just the snap shot we experience on a daily bases?
In the book, Heaven is for Real, little Colton talked about seeing his father taking part in a battle but quickly reassures his father, “it’s okay… Jesus wins.”.
Could that be what the witnesses see?
Life as we know it… full of the strife and pain that began as mankind turned away from our Creator?
Then beyond the pain can they see the ending?
Or maybe we should call it the beginning.
The fulfillment of the promise made in Paul’s letter to the Romans, that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Think about this… have you ever read a story that was full of heartache but had an ending so beautiful it takes your breath away?
If you read the story again, knowing the ending, would it change the way you view the story?
Can the cloud of witnesses see the ending?
Can they see the eternity waiting for us all?
An ending so beautiful and breathtaking that the journey is nothing more than a story they have all read before… pointless in the light of the conclusion… allowing them to be joyous… cheering us on through the strife.
As this occurred to me I encouraged others to keep talking to Dad and I began to do the same.
He’s really not so far away… Just because he is not standing beside us doesn’t mean he is not with us.
We just have to share him again.
This time with the cloud of witnesses he joined as he stepped through the veil.
If we listen closely maybe we will hear him cheering us on!
Encouraging us to persevere and throw off everything that hinders us in the race marked out for us all…
Until we join each other again…
Anxious to hear the words I know my father heard to the thunderous applause of those who witnessed the life he led…
well done good and faithful servant… now life really begins!
I love you daddy! Amen!