Thursday, October 4, 2007

From Danny Mann

Our friend Danny lost his Dad this week. Danny, it's much the same when your Mom dies.
- d.


When Your Dad Dies . . .
by Danny Mann

When your dad dies, the world tilts just a bit. And then it stops turning. You can hear it as it comes to a halt. It’s not a grinding sound. It sort of sighs to a stop.
It’s not jarring. It’s not sudden. But it stops turning.
Slowly. Smoothly.
And then, it starts to turn backward.
Slowly. Smoothly.
The seconds, the minutes, the hours, the days, the weeks, the months, the years – they start to rewind. An inexorable, unstoppable, inescapable turning back of time - when your dad dies.
It’s the magic of memory that does it, that makes the world run backward.
The freshest, newest memories are not always the best ones.
The strong one who had become weak. The big one who had become small. The protector who needed protection. The provider who needed to be provided for.
And the suffering. No, the freshest memories aren’t always the best – when your dad dies.
But if you continue to watch, if you don’t turn away, the backward slide through time becomes a blessing. A true blessing. A bountiful blessing. A powerful blessing.
As the years melt away, so does the pain. The stooped shoulders become broad and strong again. The eyes that had begun to droop start to brighten and sparkle. The voice that had become a whisper begins to boom again.
Time melts away. The memories begin to blossom and bloom into a brilliant, multi-colored bouquet of sights and sounds, people and places.
The day he said, “I do.” – and then kept that pledge for nearly 50 years. The days his children and grandchildren were born. The Christmases, the birthdays, the anniversaries, the graduations. They fly past. And if you keep watching, they’ll fly past again.
There was the vacation to Acapulco and the one to Hawaii . And the one his children, 10, 8 and 6, thought would never end. It began in South Texas and sketched an excruciating line across Louisiana , Alabama , Mississippi , Georgia and Florida . Then north through the Carolinas , then all the way back to Little Rock , then home. In three weeks. In a Ford van that almost always started. With fewer than half the required bathroom breaks. What terrible, horrible, exhausting fun it was. And the best thing about it? We never did it again.
Better than the “special” occasions, were the blessings of every day. Knowing he was there, absolutely dependable. He always went to work, had to “beat the big, bad wolf back from the front door.” And He would be home in time for dinner.
We never had to wonder about that. It was going to happen. No doubts. No worries.
Oh, to be honest, there were tough times too. A heart attack. A miserable time when his children thought they were smarter than him – the guiltiest one is writing this.
But, when your dad dies and time flies backward, for my mother, for my sisters, for me, the good looms large and the bad is barely visible.
And permeating every nook and cranny, every day and night, in good times and bad, was his faith. A faith that was born long before I was and never failed or faltered. A faith that determined how he treated his wife, raised his children, managed his employees, handled his money, prioritized his time.
What was this faith? One true God. A God with no beginning and no end. One Savior, Lord and elder brother, Jesus Christ. One true authority about how to live, the Holy Bible. And one unshakable conviction this world is only home for a while, a sort of dress rehearsal for an eternal home in the awesome presence of God.
When your dad dies, it’s good to know that he believed what his old friend, Paul, wrote in 1 Corinthians 15 – “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, when your dad dies, it’s great to know that he isn’t really dead. He’s just moved on and is living greater and grander than ever before.
We love you, dad – and we miss you. But we’ll see you soon.
Danny Mann, Sr. February 19, 1935-October 1, 2007 – and forever . . ..

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