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GUEST COLUMN: Remembering my father’s faithfulness

June 17, 2016 GMT

It was another long, winter trip to Charleston. I went to visit dad, who was fighting sepsis (the body’s response to infection) initiated by complications from radiation for prostate cancer.

He was in intensive care at the Medical University of South Carolina. The battle had its ups and downs as all serious illnesses will, but dad was the most optimistic person I had ever known, so I shared his optimism for a full recovery.

I remember the trip, seven hours long, with gray skies and unusually heavy traffic. I made this trip several times during his illness. Other than the cloudy skies and the traffic, it began as all others.

Visiting hospitals is on no one’s favorite list. It is an adult duty made heavier when you are there to see a loved one. Sitting in intensive care waiting rooms does not lighten the load and navigating hospital rules, gurneys and bedpan smells adds to the depression. The staff, nurses and doctors, were so accommodating, but it was not enough to lift me.

The visit with dad went well enough. There were no episodes. His status had not changed. He continued to fight though he was semiconscious while I was there. I said goodbye and left.

Leaving, reality overcame me. This trip, that began as any other, took the prescient tone I feared. I realized dad would not recover.

Driving home, it began to rain and further impairing my vision were the tears. I was facing an end I did not want to face. I felt helpless. In those tears were memories and the knowledge there would be no new ones. I made it home.

The next day, the sun came up as it always does, essaying again to cast its light and truth into my soul, indifferent to my day, promising nothing but another sunset and sunrise. It cared not for my pain. Between its rising and setting, it shined on my sorrow, and somehow, in its indifference, it sustained me. I retained some hope.

I have lived enough sunrises to say with confidence that perhaps God’s greatest gift to us is reflection, and it is now clear God taught me faithfulness in those days leading to dad’s death.

Sometimes we think the Bible is just some words on a page, distant in meaning and cerebral in message, until its earthiness shows up on our doorstep as hard reality and tough decisions. “What now?” we say.

Faith requires much from us and this means all from us. The inner life unto itself cannot have meaning until it is tested by the outer life.

I think about dad often. Sometimes I still reach to call him. I think daily about my children, who teach me agape love. I think about God’s faithfulness and give thanks.

My grief became sweetness. I turned to my silent space within and God was there, waiting.

“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.