Guest Post by Hubby (a.k.a. 1inquiringmind @ Of Significance or Not)
My dad, David Hutchinson, is significant to me.
A few days ago Suzan asked me to write a guest post on her blog about my dad. The last year has seen a lot of changes in my dad’s life. In fact, the last twelve years have brought about changes in my dad’s life that can only be described as…. life.
Life has happened to my dad. A broken hip, betrayal by people who claimed to love him, a son dying, failing health, unwanted retirement, a mind driving unceasingly towards dementia, another son dying, Alzheimer’s Disease beginning to show its affect, his physical strength failing as his limbs and organs no longer cooperate with his mind’s commands or body functions or needs, and leaving home to live in a Nursing Home for what will be the rest of his life. Yes, that is what has happened in his life. Many would say, “It’s old age. It comes to us all if we live long enough.” Probably, but we all hope that will not happen to us. Yes, it is life, life marching towards the end of life.
The end of life: The ongoing onslaught of age and a body breaking down as it makes its journey back to the dust from whence it come. There is no human power to stop this trip we must all make. It saddens me. Honestly, it scares me as I grow older each day. Still, I trust in the One he trusted in as this has come to pass in my dad’s life.
My wife and I visited him in the Nursing Home at the end of last year. There was not much resemblance to the father I had known when he was my current age. I had hoped to see the father I had gone fishing with or even worked with as a minister in the churches and association he pastored and served in before his unwanted retirement began. Yes, I say unwanted because he did not want to retire. He wanted to continue serving and making a living for his family. The dad I had known wasn’t there anymore. Oh, there was a slight resemblance for a fleeting moment or two. The dad I knew who is celebrating his eighty-fourth birthday is mostly gone now.
Reality is hard and life can be even harder. So, like Scarlett O’Hara I think I will remember how my dad is today, tomorrow. I will think about that tomorrow. Today, I will celebrate the father, the dad I knew before life took its toll on him. Some of us remember a different David Hutchinson.
We remember his sermon on Jezebel’s final meeting with Jehu as he imitated (or mocked) Jezebel calling out to Jehu. Yes, we recall a different man, a man who was full of life and energy especially in the pulpit when he spoke. He never was quiet. That was not his style or the style of many preachers of his day. And that is okay as God used him to make a different in many people’s lives.
My dad was devoted to his family. In fact, in his devotion to his family, he did things that many, including me at one time, would like to criticize him for doing and characterize as being unwise. As I look back on the fifty-seven years I have been his son I no longer criticize him, I just long for the man back that I had such fun with at times. I’d love to go fishing again with him. (I might sit in the middle of the boat and let Suzan have the other end! Well, maybe or maybe not.) I would love to sit and watch him laugh at the antics of the not-so smart thieves in the Home Alone movies.
Today, I would just love to hear the words of wisdom that he had for me at times. Those days are gone. However the memories, good and bad, are still real and vivid to me today as they were when those events happened. And well, I have learned some lessons from my dad.
First, my dad did the best he could with his background, heritage, strengths, weaknesses, and abilities, God gave him. That thought comforts and challenges me today. My dad did the best he could with what he had when he had it. Am I? I am not so sure sometimes. I am comforted in this fact: Dad did the best he could with the resources that God gave him and placed in his hand. I no longer judge my father for his mistakes. I thank him for them because he did the best he could in the circumstances he faced and I am challenged to do likewise.
Second, my dad was not perfect. No one is in this life. I can give him grace to be a flawed human being like I am and you are. So, children should not expect perfection of their parents. As a result, I learned to forgive my dad for the times he failed our family and me. I’ve learned to emulate him in the things he did right for our family and in his ministry. I have learned to accept, forgive, and love my dad for the mistakes he made. I have learned to put aside the bad lessons I was taught by my parents and hold fast to good lessons they taught me. Life is easier when I do.
Third, and finally, never give up. My dad never did give up as I was growing up. He hasn’t yet. He still tries to get out of his wheelchair in the Nursing Home. He is always trying. He never gave up. He’s like the old Indian Chief in the movie The Outlaw Josey Wales, who said that they made his horse give up, but he didn’t give up! Dad hasn’t given up. He never did. Never has. Maybe, that is why he was getting up before daybreak, in his late seventies and early eighties, to run a paper route to pay the bills. How often am I willing to persevere? I hope I am as willing to stick things out and not give up as he is.
Yes, today, he is eighty-four.
Happy Birthday, Dad.
I love you, Dad!