I had the best Dad a girl could ever have. He left us suddenly and unexpectedly on the 12th day of last December — three months to the day when my first grandchild was born. God must have known because every time the 12th rolls around, I think of my Dad and feel the deep loss of not having him. But then I am reminded of my beautiful grandson who is constantly growing and hitting his milestones, and I am comforted.
The Saturday morning before my Dad left us, I was driving to the grocery store and the most hateful words I remember uttering aloud came out of my mouth. I was raging mad at myself.
I had lost track of time and lingered too long in my usual Saturday morning quiet time. I was supposed to have gotten my son up at 6 am so that he could go on his Scout’s weekend trip. But I woke him up too late and he did not spring into action and missed the trip.
I was so tired of failing as a mama and decided to escape to the grocery store. Yes, my son could have done his part, but I hated myself for letting him down and thus the raging rant in my car.
That evening my older brother called us from Lima, Peru, where my Dad and Mom had been on their annual 3-month trip. A few days earlier, they had called to say that my 87-year-old father had caught Covid and was not doing well. He had pulmonary fibrosis, and we were deeply worried. They were supposed to be on their way back to the U.S. and now this.
My brother called around 9 pm and said Dad wanted to say goodbye. My son was in his room and I called him and my middle daughter to the hallway where I had my Dad on speaker. He could barely speak. He was now using an oxygen tank and his breathing was heavy.
My kids greeted him, “Hi abuelo.”
And he told them how much he loved them and how happy he was to hear their voices. He told me he loved me, and we told him we loved him.
The call was short because he had a hard time speaking and breathing. I’ve never felt such a deep loss and pain in my heart as I did at that moment. I gathered my son and daughter into my arms and wept uncontrollably.
Six months have gone by and the events of that day are etched in my mind and heart. During one of the hardest and saddest nights of my life, I had my children with me. I was not alone. I thought I had lost track of time that morning but God knew where my son needed to be.
On Father’s Day morning, as I sat weeping, I see this image. Just as I gathered my children into my arms, I see Jesus enfolding his arms around our huddled group weeping with us. He knows how much it hurts to lose someone you love.
And the words of the psalmist, come alive in a deeper way:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
It’s true. He is with us in our darkest nights when our hearts feel shattered and undone. Even now, as my tears flow, I’m comforted in remembering my father and his great love for me and my children.
I know I’m biased but he truly was the best Dad a girl could have. On his last trip to Peru, he preached the Good News of Jesus there on the shores of Lake Titicaca in the church he relentlessly built over many years. If there was anyone I would aspire to be like in this world, it would be my Dad. He loved Jesus and while he would say he’d wished he’d done things differently with us kids, he never gave up on us and he loved us with all his heart.
My mom, my siblings and I buried him in his homeland, just outside of Lima. And as I often had done every time I left for my overseas trips, I bid him farewell in our native tongue, “Jikisiñkama, Papá — till we meet again, Dad.”