My Father


In late 1998, after a seemingly excellent bill of health from the doctor, my father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. They immediately operated, and I can still remember the call I received that day from my younger brother, "It's not good," were his words that seemed to suck the life out of the room.

I felt it necessary to take a weeks vacation, because being 2500 miles from home suddenly seemed like 25,000. When I first saw him, outside of the weight loss, he was in good spirits and looked well. I thought to myself he stood a better than average chance of beating this. But, the unpredictable nature of the future caused the tension around the house to be more than noticeable. Everyone felt so helpless, going through the normal stages of self blame, asking why, and the fact that he had only been retired less than a year seemed unfair. My mom and dad had big plans for travel, and all they were waiting for was my mom, who would be retired within a year. Now, all those plans seemed non-existent.

The week I spent with my dad and mom were the best, we let down the walls families often keep around themselves. I got to talk in depth with dad, he revealed a side of his personality that was prophetic, it was like being able to go back through time and interview Plato or Aristotle, he knew exactly what to say, exactly what I needed to hear.

All too soon the week passed, and dad said he wanted to drive me to the airport that morning, and as usual we arrived with plenty of time to sit and talk. I got on the plane with a sense of closure that was indescribable, even though saying goodbye was hard, his words made it much easier. As the last boarding call came I scrambled for the plane, the weather was overcast but the visibility was good.

We were strapped in and rolling down runway before I knew it. As the plane lifted off, the widow seat afforded me one last look. What I saw was both puzzling and enlightening...I could see my father watching us taxi off, and someone was standing with him, his arms around his shoulders. I didn't recognize the taller, stronger stranger but dad seemed so comfortable in his arms. They were both smiling and waving as we rose into the air. He died 7 weeks later.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Cor 13:12)

Contributed by Glen Ellis glen.ellis@pss.boeing.com

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