Monday, November 14, 2011

Lest I forget: Remembering Daddy, God's blessings

Charles Baker Davidson
March 20, 1926 - October 30, 2011
Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great-Grandfather

Nov. 2: The celebration of Daddy's life was just right. The church was filled with probably more than 200 people. A lot of those people were family, but there were also many, many friends.
The pastor has only been at Mom and Dad's longtime church (and the church I remember growing up in) since January, but he did a wonderful job of expressing Daddy's spirit and his legacy of family, faith, friends, farm and hard work. Chuck had really listened to Daddy in recent weeks and also to the family, and was able to celebrate his life fully and also share the message of Christ.
Emily read the family recollections of Charles, who he was and some of what he liked. Then I sang "Blessed Assurance." I didn't even remember until that night at Mom's that I changed the words to the final chorus, singing: "This is Dad's story, this is his song, praising our Savior all the day long." I actually looked at Daddy's picture some as I sang and when I finished. I am so grateful to have been able to do that. I didn't fall apart until the service was over, then collected myself in about five minutes or so.

There were so many people at the reception. I didn't even see some of them. Due to many requests, the pastor got the group to quiet down and I did sing the song Daddy in late August had said he wanted written and sung at the gathering after his service. Amy and I wrote it: "Charlie D's Farm." "Ol' Charlie D he had a farm, EIEIO ..." It was fun and very well-received, too. Amy's friends and Sally were among the insistent ones.

My prayer at the end of that day, or along the way: Lord, please help me remember and savor and acknowledge all of your love and grace to our family through these dear ones. I know you are raising us up. Please help me stay focused on You and to live to Your glory.

I have to keep reminding myself that the blog is a Web log, a place where I can record things, and if the first two years is an indication, easily return to them.

So, what is written above is pretty much the note I wrote myself that day. What follows are some of the other notes or reflections I made leading up to that day. Some of it is very personal, so don't feel obligated to keep reading. Again, I don't trust my memory, and writing helps me remember. Possibly it will help others, also, either remember or to make their own kind of notes of those special moments they want to be sure not to forget. (I'm a bit envious of those who don't have to write everything down. I have to remind myself that God created me exactly the way I am, and just tresure the blessing of that.)

Nov 1: I don't even know where to start. From a friend: In very clear ways, a testimony to his life. Psalm 128:3.

Oct. 30: Daddy's gone to heaven. 10/30/11

Mom, Becky and I found out while we were in church. Mom's sister Sally and grandson Brian were with Daddy.
On that long (20-minutes?) drive home from church, the Christian radio station played great songs. The one that really caught my attention and made me prismy (smiles through tears) was an enthusiatic arrangement of "When the Saints Go Marching In." I guess he made it! I had no doubt.

Daddy wanted Mom to go to church. I have to believe that. He told me that the week before. He knew that's where we were going.

Mom had forgotton her phone, and I had called on the way to church to give Brian my number in case they needed to reach us, even though we didn't think they would. I turned the ringer off. So neither I nor Emily (Brian's wife, sitting on the pew next to us) nor Becky (my sister, Emily's mom, driving in for Sunday School) heard our phones to get the calls or messages. Brian had to call sister-in-law Brandi and Emily's dad, Tom, for help, and Tom called the church and they got Becky and told her she needed to call Tom. Becky, Mom and I all had been visiting with people and having good fellowship at church. And then ... In an instant it all changed. I just hope and pray that Mom and Brian and Sally and I never lose faith that God was totally in control of the timing and situation.

Mom insisted on driving home. I was with her, which made it OK, I guess. The music on the radio was comforting. "You Raise Me Up" brought tears as we drove on the gravel and up the lane.

Daddy was so ready. I don't understand why it didn't work out for Mom to be there. I have to believe -- and I do -- that it was all in God's plan for Mom and Daddy and all of us. He is in heaven now. And he has no more pain. And he is reunited with the dear ones who have gone before, including Granny and Grandpa (his Mom and Dad), grandson Ryan, sister Ella Frances and in-laws including Joe and Bobby. But it's still so hard to let him go. Thank you, Lord, for your mercy, love, grace and compassion. We trust you to provide everything we need, now and in the days to come.

Other thoughts/notes about that day:
--Mitsi was on the bed on Daddy's legs as he breathed his last breath, and she got back up there before we got home. Mom didn't even notice her, but I did. That may have been just for me. Before we left, I had said to Daddy how I remembered him saying Mitsi wasn't his cat anymore since he couldn't take care of her. But I assured him he was definitely still her guy.

--It was Becky's birthday. I had just sang happy birthday to her at the church when we got the call. Mom said she hated that it happened on Becky's birthday. But Becky said she realized about two weeks ago it might happen, and when it did, she accepted it as a gift.

--The preacher came by while Becky and Emily and I went to the Dress Barn looking for something for me to wear and for me to buy her a present. So I missed that spiritual bit. But before the funeral home took Daddy's body after Mike got there around 4 pm, all of us who were there at the time, including many who were not when the preacher was there, gathered together, and I prayed. I'm very grateful to have been able to do that.

--It was important to Mike that Daddy's body still be there because when he left to return to Arkansas the day before, he or Daddy had said something about whether Daddy would be there when he came back. Daddy said he would be. Mike also sees why it was important for him to be with his family the night and the next morning to share the news.

--More such moments that I can write. I need to just turn off the light, recite the 23rd Psalm and trust God to hold me and these dear precious ones in the palm of his hand.

Oct. 23-29: Loving my Daddy
Sunday, Oct. 23: Sitting and talking quietly with him. Not avoiding the reality. Him feeling safe to say he knows his life on Earth is over for all practical purposes, and he hates how hard this time is for Mom and that he doesn't want her to wear herself out. He said he would rather not go to a nursing home, but he accepts that at some point that may be what needs to happen for Mom, and he wouldn't want to fight it. That's when he looked at me and said he knows his life is over. And he's OK with that. We talked about the ones who have gone before, and about how blessed and grateful our family is. He said he can't really think of anything he'd do differently in his life, but he doesn't think about that too much because you can't change the past anyway. I said that's right -- we can just live this moment and forward.
And I did what I'd been praying to be able to do: I sang "How Great Thou Art." And then without really planning to, I prayed with him. I prayed for God to just lift up Mom and Dad and our family and to guide and support us and help us live each moment to his glory and I don't even know what else, but it was from the heart.
I said I realize that it's possible the end will come and I won't be there with him at that time, and I think I'm OK with that. I know he won't be alone, and that I am with him in spirit.
Very grateful and blessed.
I love my Daddy so much.

More notes on that: I told him I hope and pray he doesn't have to go to a nursing home, but I'm glad he's realistic about the possibilities. Very good, intimate talk. That's when he said Mom needs to go to church when I or someone is there to stay with him.

God provided and blessed the moment. Grateful.

Sent to Mike very late on Saturday, Oct. 29, catching up since he headed back to Arkansas before I got there: I'm glad you were able to be there when you were. Things seem to be changing pretty fast. Who knows what's next. I'm very grateful for last Sunday morning when I had a good talk with Daddy, and he said a few things to me, too. Then I sang How Great Thou Art and prayed aloud, holding his hand. From what I see tonight, it's hard to realize that was just a week ago. Praying to know what to do to be most helpful to him and mom. Feeling pretty helpless, though.

For today, Nov. 14: Different people work through things different ways, and as I pray to know how to feel and process and move, God often seems to guide me to write (or sing) and just trust Him with the results. And so I share words, even if they are really just for me and God. I truly thought writing all of this would bring a flood of tears. It still brings a flood of feelings, but the tears are staying behind the surface, just misting the eyes. For now, I just keep rejoicing and praising God for the blessings and love He bestowed upon Daddy and our family.

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