Isaiah 54:10 “The mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.
Topaz is one of the hardest naturally occurring minerals,
yet it must be treated with greater care than some other minerals of similar hardness.
My dad would be 96 today. Do they celebrate birthdays in Heaven?
In choosing topaz to honor Dad, I’m interpreting its hardness as toughness. He endured so much, age 84 seemed too young for him to die. We weren’t prepared. He was diagnosed with metastatic cancer on his birthday and died just 23 days later, on Nov. 12, 2008. Not long enough for us, his eight children, to extend the care to him we wanted to give.
There were other reasons too that it seemed Dad was taken from us too soon. For twenty years, he shepherded our mother through the tangle of Alzheimer’s. When forced by his own health to admit her to a care facility, though, he came alive again. He traveled to visit his children. He participated in family gatherings. He played with great-grandchildren and indulged his neglected hobbies: music, photography, woodworking, and needlepoint, to name a few. But while we were just starting to know our father again, after his long absence, God took him Home.
Dad learned to be tough early on. His family home was foreclosed during the Depression because his parents were unable to handle one mortgage payment—of less than $100. His baby sister died. His father worked on the railroad and spent most of his sparse times at home sleeping.
A Wycliffe Bible translator in a remote highland village of Guatemala, Dad built our furniture, figured out how we could have hot water (by running pipes through our wood-burning stove) and weathered rejection from the people he had gone to serve. Over many frustrating years, he showed kindness to the people around us and rejoiced when some finally began to understand God’s faithful love.
I’m just scratching the surface of Dad’s creativity, resourcefulness, his love of making God’s Word make sense in another culture and his linguistic skills. Through difficulties that might have broken other men, he never lost his sense of humor. We rolled our eyes at his puns, but his jokes lightened the stresses of life. He told me Mom having Alzheimers was an advantage in that he could tell the same joke repeatedly and she laughed every time. Here are a couple out of many, many favorites:
- “I love exercise. I could watch it for hours.”
- “I love the beach. The only things about it I can’t stand are the sun and sand and salty water.”
- “I was watching a fight on TV and a hockey game broke out!”
Miss you, Dad. Happy birthday. Thanks for sharing with us God’s faithful, merciful love.