Three months ago my life changed.
Early one Saturday morning, my older sister, Heather called about 9:00 am, obviously distressed.
“Tim,” she started to break down. “Dad had a heart attack, and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.”
The air quickly left my lungs. Somehow, I already knew he was gone. This was his second heart attack, the first coming some fourteen years ago resulting in triple-bypass surgery. The likelihood of surviving of a second heart attack is slim.
Surprisingly, the tears didn’t start right then. Maybe it hadn’t really hit me, maybe I was in a little state of denial. Instead, I knelt down and said a simple prayer, asking the Lord to be with my mother and my sisters, for they would need Him this day.
Upon arriving at the hospital, I found my mother in the parking lot. She had been there for over an hour.
“How’s he doing?” I asked, trying my best to sound hopeful.
My mom simply shook her head and said, “He didn’t make it.” We embraced and I held my dear mother, though she seemed to be handling it all surprisingly well.
She shared with me the events as they happened that morning. My Mom had returned from working out at Curves to find an ambulance and three police cars in front of our house. She said she knew he was gone at that moment. She just knew. “And you know what shirt he was wearing?” I shrugged my shoulders, wondering why she was aking. “His Boston Red Sox ‘Now I Can Die in Peace’ shirt!” That is all you need to know about my father right there. We both began laughing while fighting back the tears.
As we walked to the ER, we met up with my brother and his wife, and my sister and her husband. I entered the room where my father lay. That’s when the tears finally came. I held my dad’s hand, shed a few more tears, spent a few precious last moments with him, and told him I would see him later.
We now faced the undesirable duty of informing those siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, etc. who lived elsewhere. All ten siblings were gathered within a couple days as well my dad’s remaining brother and two sisters.
We are proud of my Dad. He was the best. He had ten kids, we served missions, we married in the Temple, we bore him grandchildren, 24 of them to be exact.
At the time of his death, my father was serving as Bishop, and the entire ward was in attendance. He truly loved his ward and absolutely loved being Bishop. I never heard him complain about the long hours or the heavy mantle which he certainly bore.
The funeral was a glorious event. Hearing the words to “Oh Divine Redeemer” and “Be Still My Soul” replaced the despair with a certain joy, a certain hope. Four of my siblings and myself reminisced and shared experiences both funny and profound. Lessons our father taught us, cherished memories of him. There were lots of laughs that morning, lots of tears, as well.
A few days later, my brother-in-law would make the comment that his daughter’s soccer coach had decided to come to the funeral, and brought with him his family. They are not members and were a little surprised by the funeral. They said they were laughing along with all of the jokes and enjoyed all of the speakers that day. The wife said she was going to start looking in the Obits section of the paper each week to find more Mormon funerals to attend.
I love my father. I miss him dearly each day. Each time a movie comes out that he’d like, or something happens in baseball, or a question comes up in my mind about the Gospel, I think of calling him, or stopping by. These are the moments that are most difficult. But, alas, I know that I will see him again.
Two months ago my life changed.
Once again, I found myself in a hospital. This time for a different reason. My wife, Taffy, and I had just had our third son. We welcomed Reece Landon Jacob into this world.
When my mother arrived at the hospital, she brought with her our other two sons, whom she had been tending that day. You could see that she was struggling, being back in a hospital and all. She had also been fighting her loneliness, and her quest to become more independent proved to be difficult. When she first saw Reece she could not hold back the tears. The circle of life has its twists, and she was a part of this latest one.
Through the tears she asked, “Can I hold him?” We laughed a bit at the fact that she felt the need to even ask. I handed Reece over to her and an obvious feeling of peace and contentment came upon her. She sat in that chair for a good while, holding the sleeping infant ever so closely, and feeling joy once again.
We could immediately see that Reece was going to be different from our first two. Our first son, Henry, is playful, friendly, and is always sure to let everyone know he’s around. He was born with jet black hair that would stick straight up. It eventually turned blonde like his father. Our second, Ty, is, well, how do I put this? He’s the Devil–pure evil. He has a full head of bright red hair like his mother, and he has a temper to match. He is the most strong-willed kid I’ve ever known and has been this way from birth.
Reece on the other hand, is a snuggler. He’s warm and gentle. He’s got a quiet, loving way about him that has brought a peace to our home. I’ve heard that the leap from two to three kids is the most difficult as you have to learn to deal with being outnumbered. As my bro-in-law says, “It kicks your butt!” But we have found Reece to be a wonderful addition to our family and have noticed a sweet spirit has resided in our home since he has joined us here on Earth.
One of my favorite Gospel subjects is the Pre-Mortal life. I suppose this is because not much has been taught on the subject, thus my mind can explore a bit the wonders and possibilities that exist. I can’t say I know for sure what exactly goes on up there, but I do like to wonder.
I wonder if perhaps my father and my son-to-be were able to cross paths during that month they weren’t on this earth, one having fulfilled his earthly mission, the other embarking upon it.
I wonder what my father might have said to him. Perhaps a few words of encouragement, “You can do this.”
Or perhaps they were in different places altogether and were not able to see each other. But perhaps my dad was able to get a hold of an angel to pass a little note onto my son saying, “Good luck. Have fun on Earth, you’ll love it.”
Thinking of these possibilities always brings a smile to my face and often makes me laugh. It is these thoughts that make me want to become the father that my dad was…and I strive to do so with each day that passes.
These past few months have been crazy. The loss of a father, the birth of a child, a new job, a new calling, contributing to the madness. And yet, life is good. It truly is.