This is part 2 of my article called “I LOVE YOU DAD.” I do hope you have read part 1 of this article.
A New Start For Dad and Me
The very day Purity Bakery closed, was my first day in Graham Bible College. Do you really think that was a coincidence? No, that was God. No one was telling me now, You are making a big mistake and will regret it. God knew the future. They did not. I would find out later before my Dad died, what happened on that day when the bakery closed.
My Dad told me. He finished his last shift and went home. No one was home, just him. He went to his room to put away his keys and wallet. He looked across the bed into the big mirror on the dresser. For the first time in many years, he knelt on his knees, looked in the mirror, and started to pray.
“God, I don’t like what I see in the mirror and I know you don’t. I want to thank you for getting me out of the hell hole I worked in for 34 years. I am a drunk and a mean man. I don’t know how I got here, but I did it. I have cussed you and cursed your name. I have done about everything wrong in the book and fought against you.”
” I am no kind of man. I am worthless to everyone. I messed up my own life and my family. I don’t know why you have not killed me. I deserve it. I want to quit drinking, but I don’t know how. I need your help, if I am worth helping. I can’t do it without you. I am asking you to please help me and forgive me”
” I remember years ago when I became your child. You were real in my life, and I wanted to serve you. I missed your calling in my life, and I have been miserable ever since. I had joy and happiness. I want to ask you, God, Please, give me back the joy of my salvation and forgive me. I don’t care what it takes, please give that back to me.”
My Dad drew his unemployment. Before it ran out, he found a job. My brother, Bill, in South Carolina, owned a construction company. My Dad went to work for my brother Bill and got to travel. For the first time in their lives, they really got to know each other. Many lifelong problems were cleared up between them.
Dads wife insisted he come home to work. He was making good money and having fun for once. Even so, Dad came home to please her. He found a job at the local hospital. He became a security guard. He loved the work, his new friends, and shorter shifts. He seemed happy and was not drinking.
Dealing With Life And Cancer
Dad worked at the hospital for a long time, then got sick. He had medical tests run. The doctors told him he had “Oat Cell Carcinoma.” This is one of the fastest growing cancers. The doctors told Dad, he would have to have radiation treatments and chemotherapy. He was also told it was not curable but terminal.” The doctors said, “If you do not have radiation therapy and chemo, the pain will be unbearable.”
I felt at that moment, Dad would head straight back to the bottle. I really believed he would start drinking again. Dad had been sober since the day the bakery closed. Dad went in a new direction that I never expected. No one did. Dad acted like he was going to die any minute.
Dad got on the phone and started calling anyone who owed him a penny. He wanted it and demanded it. If someone had borrowed a screwdriver he wanted it back now. He wanted everything that belonged to him right there before he died. He harassed people until they paid him, or brought it back.
Dad got everything around him in a circle. He had all that belonged to him. But it brought him no peace or satisfaction. I saw his frustration and anger. I watch him go from a big strong man to walking on a cane. Then, he moved to a walker, later to a wheelchair, and finally to a hospital bed.
All the radiation treatments and Chemo-therapy eat him up, inside and outside. I saw him so deathly sick in many ways. Then I saw a bigger change in my Dad. He was broken. Then he turned to God again. He got on the phone and called everyone he knew. He begged them to come and see him. If they would not, he was apologizing to them, for being a drunk and alcoholic. He would ask if he owed them anything, and said he would pay no matter what it took.
He located old friends, drunks and drinking buddies and apologized to them too. He was witnessing to them and telling them how he quit drinking. Telling how God could deliver them from alcohol. He was telling them how God could be real in their life. Dad begged them to come and see him so they could talk. Dad begged their forgiveness.
I sat in the den talking with Dad. He told me he was ready to leave this world. He did not want to leave this world with anything bad in his heart. He said, “Son If I knew God would take me, as soon as I got in that chair, I would crawl over there right now.” He told me when you lose your health, you”ve lost it all. All the things he owned meant nothing.
My brother Bill came in from South Carolina almost every weekend after work. Even when Dad was in the hospital, Bill was there. They had a good relationship and had a lot of time to make up with each other. This gave Dad a lot of satisfaction.
Dad begged to go to church but was not physically able. He listened to every preacher on the radio that he could. He finally had to be put in the hospital for good. I was close to graduating from Graham Bible College. I was with Dad in the hospital when he had an unexpected guest come to visit.
Dad’s old, old, friend Pastor Sherffey showed up. He had been in Florida preaching for many years. He had just come back home to Bristol to be a pastor in a new church. He had heard about Dad and came to visit. I just sat and listened. I did not interrupt. Sherffey said, “Clarence, I am sorry you have cancer.” Dad said, “Why not me? I am not special. I am not better than anyone else.”
Sherffey said, “Clarence, I want to lay hands on you, and pray that God will heal you from this cancer.” Dad said, “No, Sherffey. You pray that I will not go empty-handed. Pray that I will have some kind of reward to lay at the Masters’ feet.” Dad started to cry, he said, “Please listen to me. I turned my back on God and lived a wicked life.”
“The day the bakery shut down I asked God to help me quit drinking. I asked God to give me back the joy of my salvation, no matter what it took. This is what it took. Sherffey, this is why I have cancer. I am ready to go home and I am looking forward to it.” Sherffey asked, “Is there a Bible in this room?”
Dad reached in his pillowcase and handed Sherffey a little Bible. It was the same Bible Sherffey had bought my dad many years ago, and still engraved with Dad’s name. Dad said, “Do you recognize this Sherffey? I sleep with it under my pillow, it helps me to rest a little.” Sherffey could only smile. Sherffey read some scripture then had prayer.
Dad introduced me and told Sherffey, “This is my youngest son. He will be graduating Bible college in a few days.” We talked for a while and Sherffey said he had to go. When Sherffey left, my dad said, “Son, I need to talk you. You are the last one.” I did not quite understand, but I said, “ok.”
When The End Came
Dad said to me, “This is long overdue. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I was mean and cruel to you most of your life. I cannot go back and make it right. I would if I could, but I can’t. You know what I am talking about. I have asked God many times to forgive me for what all I did to you. You did not deserve it. Please, forgive me, Son, I love you.“
Nothing else in the world mattered at that moment. I had never heard those words in my life from my Dad. “I love you.” I never expected to hear it. Those words meant everything to me. I said, “Dad, there is nothing to forgive, I forgave a long time ago.”
Dad begged and begged the doctors to let him go to my graduation. They said “No”. Dad told them, “My son is graduating Bible college, I need be there. Put me on a gurney and let me go in an ambulance, I want to go.”
They told me, “He can’t. He would not make it, he would not live.”
The next day I went to the hospital before going to graduation. I told Dad I would be back in a while. I went to graduation then came back to the hospital. I showed Dad my Bachelors Degree, associate degrees, and Teaching Certificates.
He looked at them and said, “They look nice, but I don’t understand what they mean.”
I don’t know why, but I said, “You can have them.” He grinned a little and said, “What would I do with them?” They are yours, you earned them. Then for the first time in my life, Dad said, “I am proud of you Son!”
That totally melted my heart. I never expected to hear those words, in my life.
God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways
I stayed a while, visited, then went home. I had said, “I will be back in the morning. I went back to the hospital the next morning to stay with Dad. Before I could get to his room the nurses came to me. They said, “Your Dad slipped into a coma last night. We are just trying to keep him comfortable.” Of course I stayed. I could not leave.
I had been given a few dollars by my uncle as a graduation present. That gave me gas money to get back and forth to the hospital. I was there every day, 14 to 16 hours. A few friends and family came to visit. They sat in the lobby. They could not handle being in Dad’s room more than a few minutes. It was a horrific experience.
I understand how long hard hours in a hospital seem to go slow. Those hours can really work on your mind. Dad was in a coma and suffering. They brought his meal tray 3 times a day. My uncles were saying, “Eat that food Ray, don’t let it go to waste. You don’t have money to buy meals. Your Dad can’t eat it. He would not want you to go hungry.”
I ate it and somehow choked it down. I had to take it to the bathroom to eat. I could not eat in front of my Dad even though he was in a coma. Knowing he had not eaten a bite or drank a drop in many days, brought a great measure of guilt-eating a dying mans food. You eat it with tears in your eyes.
One day turned into the another, then the next. All you can do is sit and wait. I would have done anything humanly possible for my dad. If only there was some way to help. There was nothing I could do. The nurses gave Dad, the highest doses of morphine they could. Every two hours. It did not help much. Dads thighs look like a pin cushion.
Dad would stop breathing, and I would ask myself, “Is this it? Is he gone?” Then, in 30 seconds, he would start breathing again. This happened over and over. You never get used to it. I came to realize something. Few will admit to this. I was mad at God. People will say, “It does you no good to be mad at God. He is bigger and can outlast you.”
I was not mad because Dad had cancer. I was not mad because Dad was dying. I was mad because Dad was ready and wanted to go, and God did not take him. I was asking, “Why not take him, God, end his suffering. Why does he have to lie there and suffer more? He is ready.” Then I discovered another aspect I did not want to face.
What I was not saying, was something hidden deep within me. “God, why do I have to be here and watch this? Why do I have to go through this also? Can’t you make this easier for me? End this suffering. I am tried of this God.” I didn’t think God was being fair. Why am I the only one in the room experiencing this?. Everyone else is always in the lobby laughing and joking.
The truth was not an easy pill to swallow, but I had too. I had to repent and ask forgiveness for my own selfishness. The truth was, I was where I wanted to be. It was my choice and I do not regret it. I don’t think other family members could have handled it, but I could.
There is another old saying. “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” Sometimes your feelings and emotions block reality. You can’t see it. I finally realized what God had done for me. God had allowed my Dad to live long enough to see his son graduate Bible college. Dad was awake and alert until after I graduated. I was allowed that time with him. As always, God does not make mistakes.
The end came 10 days after I graduated. Dad’s body finally lay down and gave up his spirit. I held his hand and said goodbye. I said, “I Love You, Dad” and I meant it. I had a life of abuse and neglect. To a large degree, it had been a horror story.
The last six months of Dad’s life, I learned more about him than I ever knew before. WE spent more personal time together, than we had, in my whole life. A funny thing happens when you are close to dying. Reality sets in. You are not scared to open up and show your real self.
You do not have time to play games anymore. Being macho-man no longer matters. You are no longer afraid to share your feelings, emotions, and tears. You realize there are things that need to be said and made right. You realize what is really important.
I loved my Dad for the man he finally became. I could say it and mean it.
Four months after Dad died, God Called Me To Preach. I was ordained and I have been in Ministry ever since. I wish my Dad could have heard me teach or preach one time. Maybe God allowed it from Heaven, and I just don’t know it. I think in some way, God took the calling my Dad refused and gave it to me.
I received only 2 things that belonged to my Dad. My grandmothers family Bible and my Dad’s little engraved Bible. I gave the family Bible to my brother, Bill. He is the oldest and I felt he should have it. I kept Dad’s little engraved Bible (the one Sherffey gave him). It will pass down to my son. What I have inside of me, is the most valuable part of my Dad.
Someone may be wondering, “What about your Mom?” At age 21, I started a relationship with Mom again. My mother had many friends. She was well thought of in her church. She was dedicated to her friends and church.
I truly wanted a good relationship with mom. I learned to accept, whatever I received from her. I will say, “No matter what I did or how hard I tried, things were never right.” I wanted to be close to Mom, but it never happened. I am very grateful both my brothers did have that closeness with mom.
My brother, Allen, lived a very wicked life. God opened Allen’s eyes and changed him. He did become a Christian. By this time, alcohol and health problems had taken its toll. This put Allen in an early grave. I preached Allen’s funeral as he requested.
My brother, Bill, is great. We are very close. He still lives in South Carolina. He is a dedicated Christian. He learned many lessons growing up and being abused. Bill determined never to live that way again. He is a great father and family man. Bill is still my hero.
My stepmother once told me, “I have been married to the best man and the worst man in the world. And he is the same man!
What did I learn from all of this? How did this influence my life? I know I could write a lot about this. This week makes 31 years since my Dad died. I have had plenty of time to think and evaluate. I wrote this because I needed to finally express it and share it. I believe I finally needed to get it out of my system, but maybe I never will and it needs to be remembered. My kids will always have this. They will know where their Dad came from, and the life he lived.
How did I survive?
(KJV Psalm27:10) “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”
It was the prayers of two sets of grandparents and a Christian uncle and aunt. Hard lessons in life will make you bitter or better. I am not bitter. We do not always see the things of God in our life.
(KJV Romans 8:28) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Many miss an important principle in this verse. It does not say, Everything that happens in our lives is good.” It does say, “God can take it and bring good out of it.” And He did!
God still has the power to mend and heal broken lives. God is able to change people when they cannot change themselves. Never give up, call on God.
I hate alcohol. I do not drink and never have. I determined and vowed, never to be like Dad or Mom. I have two children and they are both grown. I raised them in church. I had family Bible study with them. I prayed with them. I tell them and show them how much I love them. They both know I am proud of them. My kids know, their Dad will not allow anyone to abuse them.
I am not and never have been a perfect parent. I made mistakes with my kid just like any parent. My life was wretched, but it made me determined, NOT to make the same mistakes my parents made. There is one mistake I did not make. I never waited until I was dying or the end of my life, to show my kids love.
I have always told my kids; how much I love them. I will never stop. My kids always hug me and say, “I love you, Dad.”
I know this has been a very long article. If you have stayed and read to the end, I have to say, ‘THANK YOU so much. I hope something I said or shared will benefit you. I am posting a picture of me in the black shirt and my Dad is in the brown shirt. This was his younger years. I will end this by saying, “I love you dad and miss you.” concludes part 2 of this article, “I LOVE YOU DAD.”
Your thoughts and comments are welcome, so leave them below in the comment section. Please enjoy the beautiful song below RAY.