Tuesday, November 10, 2009

8 Years

It's hard to believe that it's been 8 years since my father passed away. Time flies. 8 years since that cloudy, cold afternoon that we stood by his graveside, silently, with tears in our eyes, and sadness in our souls.

My brother, sister and I made our annual trip to Park Lawn, in the big city, a trip we try to take every year. It hasn't always worked out, but I'm glad it did this year. It's pretty special to have the 3 of us there to reminisce and spend a quiet moment together.

Last year was different. After 7 years, I didn't feel the tears come easily. I silently berated myself; how could I not feel the same intense emotion I have in other years? I wanted to cry - I felt that I would be betraying my Dad's memory if I didn't - that somehow he would be less significant if I didn't feel the pain so intensely.

In the days that followed, I realized that God has, in many ways, healed my heart. It's not that I don't remember - it's not that I don't feel the pain - it's just that I've realized that ... it is what it is. It happened for a reason, and God designed it to be this way. And I'm okay with that.

It was dark this year; we didn't get there terribly late, but the sun had set, and the cemetery was dark and eerie. My sister took this picture; it seems to reflect how eerie the deserted cemetery was.

Sorry for the quality - we had a flashlight and a cell phone camera! It you can't make it out, it reads:

In loving memory of
a beloved husband
and father
Dec 24, 1953 - Nov 10, 2001
You will fill me with joy
in your presence, with eternal
pleasures at your right hand.
Ps. 16:11

This week, Kristin and I were blessed with a visit from my Grandparents, and when they left, my Grandpa gave us a business card, as he often does.

On the back of that card is a prescription; he had written a verse from my Dad's favorite Psalm - 16. His Rx read: "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure."

What an encouragement!

The last verse my Dad ever shared with me was verse 8, and I had the reference tattooed on my left shoulder: "I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

The Psalmist continues, "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let you Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

Tonight the tears come easily. Tonight my eyes are filled with tears - I am incredibly sad that my children won't get to meet their Grandpa Stimers in their life. I feel pain because my Dad won't get to hold his grandkids. He would have been an amazing Grandpa, and would be so proud to hold his grandbabies.

But he hasn't been abandoned. Jesus has not left him alone in death - he has not abandoned my Dad to the grave, and in that, I take much comfort!

And, through my pain and tears, I can rejoice - I can rejoice because I know my Dad is enjoying the eternal pleasures that are promised in the Bible. I pray that I will raise my kids to know Jesus - to know and walk with Jesus in a profound way, that they may enjoy the amazing gift that awaits them. I pray that I can, and will, raise my kids to follow Jesus - even when it's hard - even though it's not popular or easy - I pray that they will follow the legacy that my Grandfather left me, the legacy that my father carried, and the legacy that I intend to leave for my kids.

Milestones are hard. Graduating college was hard. Getting engaged, and marrying the most amazing woman in the world was hard - knowing she won't get to meet my Dad until Heaven. And having my Dad's first Grandkids... is hard.

I miss you Dad.

Thank you all for sharing this with me; thanks for letting me share this with you, because it's important to me. For those of you who knew my Dad, who shared time with him, prayed with and for him, and supported him in ministry, thank you. Thank you for supporting, praying for us kids as we went through a difficult time of mourning, and thank you for those of you who don't let my memories fade.

His hair was going to fall out, so he asked me to shave it off. I took great pleasure in doing so!


marlene and Rick said...

Hi Paul.
After reading your post with regards to your dads memorial, Rick and I most definitely felt your pain. You most certainly loved and presently love your dad so much. We often say to each other how we wish we could have met your dad. He certainly sounds like a remarkable man. He and your mother raised you up to be a remarkable man too. We are so thankful to have you as our son in law and we want you to know just how much we love you too. You have grown to be an awesome person in many ways. We also know that when your children are born, your thoughts will go to your dad. Like Kristin she too will probably think of her grandma Booth and just how much she would have loved these great grand babies. She would have been so excited that she would probably be knitting up a storm right now. She was very special to Kristin while she grew up. Grandma and Kristin were tight. We think God gives us memories of our loved ones so that they are still with us even though they are gone.
Your grandfather and father gave you a rich heritage to build on and we can see you doing that.Rick and I also belive that you and Kristin will pass this on to your three little children and we thank God for that. We can't wait to see your family grow in God.
Paul, we are so proud of you and we love you so so much.
Love from Mom and Dad Booth

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Paul! I think of your Dad often and am so grateful for all he did for me. (Long talks as I was going through the ever-troubling teenage years. Many, many, many hospital visits and yes, with you at his side sometimes with your bible under your arm.) I see so many of his great qualities in you and Dave and now you will be able to pass them down to your children. What a blessing!
I think of you and Kristin often too and get updates from Katy. Praying for you both and the wee ones!
Michelle Leitch

Anonymous said...

Paul - your Dad was such a wonderful man. He counselled me, encouraged me, baptized me and was a shining example of God's love. I often think of him. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and memories, they are precious. Many blessings to you and your family!

Jen B

Cathie said...

Thanks for sharing your heart Paul, and a wonderful tribute to your Dad. He was a wonderful, encouraging person to so many, and always used God's word to comfort and encourage. I know he would be so proud of you, Dave and Kathryn, and would have been so looking forward to being a Grandpa. Blessings to you and Kristin as you await the arrival of your three precious little ones.

Anonymous said...

It was shortly after Ted's diagonsis, that we dropped you kids off to Sunday School and drove to a park by the Lake and discussed this chapter 16 of Psalms. We wondered how we could be at God's right hand and He would be at our right hand at the same time. As we struggled with how this actually looked - the visual picture, we determined that if we were positioned face to face, lined up with right hands clasped, that this would be our reality as we walked through those terrible days. It's not theological, but it was a beautiful picture of our relationship with God....and it was our reality, face to face with God, His constant presence, His constant peace. May that be your experience always.


Anonymous said...

Dear Paul & Kristin,
I enjoy reading your blog.
I can understand why you don't have time to do it very often.
Don't be too hard onourself. Your Dad was one very special person.
It is a Blessing to read your memories of him ! You are an amazing communicator. I pray for you and Kristin and the wee ones.
Dec 17 is Heidi's birthday. I hope the babes can wait till then.
Cousin Muriel in Cambridge