A person on Facebook posted an article from the New York Times, “Dying with Nothing to Say” by Katie Rolphe. The theme of the essay is our expectations that the last words we experience from those we love, when they are dying, will include reconciliation and longed for answers to our deep questions, but death does not usually provide such glad endings. The essay set off a string of memories and a final ending that was, at least, a glad one.
My father died when I was around 24/25, I don’t remember the exact date. He killed himself. But at the time I wasn’t sure, some rumpled notes were in his garbage can. Later, 30 years later, a sister confirmed my memories. I was the last person to talk with him, the last daughter he visited. And he had things to say, I simply didn’t hear his words the way I should have heard them.
I was carrying my fourth child in about 5 & ½ years. My mother had died two years before—I was always weary. We talked of many things. My father, Wesley Trotter, had been a cowboy, a farmer and a truck driver. I loved my father dearly. He was 52 and no longer worked because of a severe back injury which was getting worse. We were always close except when I became a Christian, perhaps too intense, but I was after all a teen when Jesus revealed his glorious salvation to me.
I have to laugh about some of those memories. One day, I, as usual sat in our rocking chair singing hymns, something I loved doing. My father was sleeping on the couch. When he woke up he started singing the hymn I had been singing and I laughed at him. But he got even. One late morning I was doing the usual teen thing, sleeping in. He pounded on my door yelling for me to wake up. I immediately sat up and cursed at him and he laughed and laughed. I had to apologize to him and God.
That particular visit, my father was trying to tell me two things, he simply did not know how to say either of them in a straight forward way. He was trying to tell me that he had encountered Jesus and did not know what to do with such an experience. He told me he had been trying to go to church but when they sang the hymns it made him cry and he would leave. He also told me who he wanted to keep my younger sister if he should die. She was only eleven. He was thinking of death and I didn’t understand why.
After visiting for several hours I told him I needed a nap. My youngest was napping and the other two were gone with their other grandparents. I thought he would stay and when I woke up we would visit some more. But when I woke up he was no longer there and I would not see him again.
I was angry when I heard of his death. I was angry for weeks. I keep asking God why. And then I called the pastor who had preached the funeral for both my mother and father. He was a Missionary Alliance pastor, a very kind man. I told him of my anger and asked can you give me any clue at all that my father knew Jesus. He said, “I certainly can.” He told me that just a month before my father’s death he had visited the pastor and accepted Jesus as his savior.
The article in the Times is very good, I recommend it. But the author, I think does not comprehend the love and goodness of God to those who are in Christ Jesus. God reaches into our lives and works his wonders in ways that we could never imagine.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)