The telephone woke me about 5:00 a.m. on February 25, 2004. It was the nurse from Bethel Home telling us that on their last hourly rounds, they found my dad had passed away in his sleep. I called my sister, Kathy, in Long Beach, and then Amy, our daughter. Amy said she wanted to go with us to spend some time with Grandpa. Tony and I picked up Amy at her home, drove through Starbucks
(so glad they open at 5:30 a.m.)
and drove to Bethel Home, in neighboring Selma.
There we sat, with my dad, Grandpa Goodie*, whose earthly tent lay motionless in the bed. It was there we prayed and thanked God for bringing Dad back to us. If you follow my blog, you will know that my dad went through a rough time
~ from 1993 to 2003, to be exact. The estrangement from him was painful and consumed me for almost two years. With a wonderful counselor companioning me, I was able to reconcile the loss of my dad's presence in my life
, and rest in the hope of a reunion in eternity.
Then, in 2003, my dad humbled himself and came home. Literally. He came to live with us. He met his great-grandchildren for the first time, ate pot roast and gravy like Mom used to make, and listened to Amy's husband, Jeff (whom he had never met) play hymns on the piano. He lived with us for about one year before suffering a stroke which took him at the age of 94 years old.
So on this the anniversary of his death, I remember a father who finished well. He was not perfect. He lived with regret and brokenness. But, his story is truly one of
redeeming the future
. His pride, his shame, his old age . . . all could have kept him separated from his family. It seems many individuals become set in their ways. But my dad chose to
~ to renew the relationships lost with his family, confess to God and to us the hurts of the past 10 years, and finish well.
The thought I have today, February 25th, is a powerful one.
It is never too late to redeem the future.
I am told by those who keep statistics that only about 60% of individuals actually finish well. I am proud to say the my dad, William W. Goodrell, beat the odds at 94 years of age. As we met at the mortuary to take Dad's body to be cremated, I stood before the box where he laid. Tony and my dear friend Eunice were with me. I asked Tony to give me his pen. And with tears streaming down my cheeks, I wrote on the lid of that box:
Thanks for loving me.
Thanks for coming home.
Thanks for finishing well.
Tell Mom and Scott hello.
We'll see you soon.
Remember . . . It is never too late to redeem the future and finish well.
*My maiden name is Goodrell. When I was little,
I could not say it clearly, so my dad's parents became Grandpa and Grandma Goodie.
The name stuck and when our children came along, my parents inherited those loving names.