I love reading all the Facebook posts with pictures of dads with the captions, “best Dad ever!” What a world we would have if every child could say that. I am blessed, thankful and have never taken for granted the fact that I can say that about my Dad.
My family has gathered at home to spend my father’s last days with him. He is 81 years old and has lived an amazing life. His body has been ravaged by Parkinson’s Disease, heart disease and arthritis, but his spirit and joy in life is a force we all marvel at. My mother often says to me, “Don’t expect me to have your father’s attitude when I’m sick — just warning you.”
This morning I read a brief article about the five things people regret in their last days. As I read the article it occurred to me that my father will have none of those regrets. He lives a life true to himself with love and joy. He has valued family above all and expresses his love for us with ease every time he sees us. He shares his thoughts, feelings and wishes allowing us all to know him. With both family and friends he holds back no love, and he greets all with hugs.
He absolutely adores his wife and has treated her with love, respect and kindness for 60 years. My sons hold him up as their role model for how to be a husband, dad and grandfather. Who could ask for more?
As for me, he has given me glimpses of heaven all my life. When my heart has been hurt or troubled he has shown me the miracles of each day found in family, nature and faith. When I hear people talk of heaven as a place where the streets are paved with gold, I think not for me and not for my dad. Our heaven will be filled with trees, water, sunsets and the sounds of loons. I dreamed of that place this morning. My dad was there sailing a beautiful boat. I woke with a happy heart knowing I have been blessed with glimpses of heaven all my life thanks to my dad and his adventurous spirit.
My hope and my prayer this morning is that all children will have a dad who brings them glimpses of heaven, whom they can celebrate as “the best dad ever” and that all dads live with no regrets in their last days. Oh what a world that would be!
Martha Reed Johnson is a professional storyteller and member of the Story Spinners, which meet in Laurinburg. She penned this story in June 2013, months before her father passed away.