Thursday, April 9, 2015

Because He Lives

In memory of Dad, Ed Brown. April 9, 1934-December 24, 2014.

I cried last week for a strange reason.  I walked past a grate in the downtown parking lot where I parked for the Anderson Christmas parade and dropped my parents' car key down that grate. It took some creative engineering by David and two Mellow Mushroom employees to retrieve the keys, but no harm done.  

Ordinarily, it would be a simple, funny memory; instead, it's a sad reminder.  I took my hands out of my coat pocket to catch Dad as he staggered across the uneven ground.  This bothered him.  "It's my fault," he said several times that day.  It was a nice day, a little windy, but at least it wasn't raining, and we had plenty of time.  But, it still bothered Dad that he stumbled and had to be held. 

Dad loved spring, especially the flowers and trees.   The daffodils he ordered that I planted are big and beautiful.  Right now, he would be enjoying The Masters Golf Tournament, azaleas, and dogwoods.   He loved Easter, especially the music, and especially Because He Lives.

He was diagnosed with cancer in both kidneys November 2013, and the grate reminded me that by the end of 2014, the life Dad loved living was changing, and I realized that dad could be in the hospital or too sick to enjoy Spring or go to church Easter Sunday. He could miss singing loudly and genuinely Because He Lives. 

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10
Since I live, you also will live. John 14:19

Dad lived Because He Lives, and he always lived abundantly.  He enjoyed serving and the fellowship with God's church.  As a spectator and participant, he loved sports. Dad worked extra hours and sometimes extra jobs to take us to Walt Disney World.  Weekends were spent with family, eating and playing cards, or hiking and picnicking.  As a retired educator, he volunteered at AnMed Health and was inducted into T.L Hanna Athletic Hall of Fame for coaching basketball and golf. Dad organized golf trips. He and mom finally bought a condo on a golf course.  Three days a week, he ate breakfast with friends. Dad and Mom ate dinner every Friday night and lunch every Sunday with two other couples, their best friends.

Dad was a traveler.  He and mom spent many summers visiting State Parks, and he was amazed at the grandeur of the West.  They cruised oceans with friends.  They played and held hands with grandkids at the beach and Walt Disney World.

Dad didn't have plans to slow down.  A few years ago at the age of 78, he shared with me and Susi three possible BIG TRIP options: Rhine River cruise, train ride ACROSS Canada, or ANOTHER Alaskan cruise.  We suggested a trip to the beach, but he insisted on a big trip.  They cruised Alaska for the second time.
In addition to cancer, Dad also had congestive heart failure, and the doctor assured him, "Your heart will give out before you die of cancer." He was correct.  The heart took him first.  God in his mercy knew Dad's plan was not to sit around watching others live and waiting on death from cancer.

After the cancer diagnosis and a week in the hospital which included dialysis, he went to a rehabilitation hospital the Friday before Thanksgiving Day.  And he was NOT happy. He informed the staff that he was not going to miss Thanksgiving Day at his daughter's house.  "The Glymph family will be there, and I'm not staying here and eating this food." He was referring to the food that was perfectly acceptable for Mom a month before.  After six days of his best efforts, his wish was granted, and he showed up at my door for the Glymph Thanksgiving.
We were excited but worried.  Was he strong enough to go home?  "Of course I am," was his answer.  So the Monday after Thanksgiving, he resumed his pre-illness unsupervised exercise routine.  Dehydrated and light-headed, he ended up in the Emergency Department, and I'll never forget the gigantic Ed Brown grin on his face when he saw me, "There's my baby girl." I didn't smile and with hands on my hips I asked, "What in the world were you doing?"  Dad cleared things up for me.  You see, outpatient rehabilitation at the hospital, which he insisted for Mom a month before, wasn't right for him.  "You're on their time. I don't want to be on their schedule," he informed me. What if an appointment interfered with one of his buddy breakfasts or lunch at the club?

The following May, he returned to the hospital, followed by a longer stay in another rehabilitation hospital.  And again, Dad was NOT happy.  He agreed to enter rehab on the condition that he WILL certainly attend Concord Baptist's annual Patriotic Service and BBQ lunch.  Dressed in Red, White, and Blue (forever a patriot), with walker and catheter bag, he was ready and waiting when Susi picked him up and stood up for Salute to Armed Forces, proudly singing The Caisson Song.
On July 4th, David , James, and I took him to lunch, another reason he agreed to this facility.  After lunch, we had a confusing conversation. 

I'll take you back to rehab.
No, take me home.
When will mom take you back to rehab?
After the fireworks.
Tonight? I signed you out for lunch.  They'll be looking for you.
I don't care.
I might be in trouble.  I told them you'd be back after lunch.
You're fine.  It won't matter.
Why don't I take you back, and Sam can pick you up before dinner?
No, it's boring being in bed all day. I have bills to pay. Take me home.
They're expecting you back. Should I call them.
No. I don't care what they think.

After returning from a trip to San Antonio and telling Dad about the Alamo and the River Walk, he talked about going one day.  Susi and I shook our heads at the thought of  Dad and Mom on scooters on the River Walk. He also wanted to return to Walt Disney World in March to see James parade down Main Street U.S.A.

Because his Savior lives, life was worth living for Dad.  He loved going and doing with friends and family and giving to whoever asked.  Life meant watching basketball with Mom and looking for Coach Angie if the Florida Gator Women were playing.  Life meant watching baseball with Susi, socializing with friends, and telling me where to dig and what to plant and discussing gospel music.  A life worth living was singing Because He Lives.   

We wish he was still living this life, but what if Dad, right now, was sitting in a chair (he could barely stand up the night before he died) or in a hospital bed wishing he could be eating breakfast with friends, riding on his golf cart, or  being with family. He didn't like not living abundantly.

I still work in his yard.  Mom and Susi watch baseball.  We want him here with us, but we know it would be heartbreaking to have him here but not living how he wanted to live.  The last time I saw him was two days before he died, and he barely talked. His three grandkids were laughing, but he wasn't.  I planted tulips that night, but he didn't seem interested. David, Luke, and Susi had to pick him up on his last morning. 2015 would have been difficult for him.

A few days before he died, he told Mom he felt depressed. But because He lives, Dad is no longer NOT happy. He doesn't have to be held in a parking lot.  Dad isn't forced to look at a golf course everyday without being strong enough to play.  He hasn't spent all of his money on doctors and unable to give to local charities. He isn't sitting in a recliner on Friday night instead of laughing with Sam, Sharon, Jim, Linda and Mom. Dad isn't in the hospital while his friends are on a golf trip or his grandson is graduating from college or his family is enjoying Walt Disney World. 

He's eternally LIVING face to face with the One Who Holds the Future.  As for his spirit, it's here telling me what to plant and where and listening to Southern Gospel. It's here coaching from the recliner and explaining the referee's call to Mom and Susi.  For Ed Brown on his 81st birthday, all fear is gone. He fought life's final war with pain and sees the lights of glory. For us, we can face tomorrow, and life is worth the living.

Because He Lives. Happy Birthday, Dad!




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