Today, I’d like to introduce you to my good friend, Shirley Reinert. She is a beautiful woman of God and is our guest blogger for this week. What an amazing story she has to share.
The month of August marks the 3rd anniversary of my Dad’s death. I miss him every day since I told him that last goodbye on a Sunday night.
Eight years prior to his death, my Dad, a “tough man-never sick” farmer who was diagnosed with Kidney failure. He pretty much ignored the diagnosis for a year until he ended up in the emergency room and doctor told him “either you start dialysis now or you won’t be here much longer.” My youngest sister looked at my Dad and told him “that she wanted him around to walk her down the aisle some day so there was no choice.”
Dad began his journey of the 3 times a week 4 hour dialysis treatments. Dad is not the normal patient- typical patients takes dialysis 5 year and either gets a transplant or life is over. My tough Dad. My family was blessed. Dad saw and experienced many miles stones during his 8 years of illness. His oldest granddaughter graduated from high school, and he was able to meet and hold grandchild number 5. My parents celebrated their 50th anniversary.
God blessed my Dad in so many ways. The biggest blessing was the strength that God gave him to make the decision it was time to go home to Heaven. Dad was having all kinds of difficulty with his dialysis treatments and the doctors gave him about 4 to 6 months longer. In month two of that time frame, Dad’s dialysis port stopped working. He looked at Amy, his dialysis nurse (who also happened to be our neighbor girl) and said it was time to go home, his fight was over. He asked Amy to make arrangements for him to go to Hospice care for his final days.
Dad went home to the farm for the last time that day. He called his best friends and the neighbors and said his goodbyes. The next morning my family met with the Hospice care workers. Arrangements were made. Dad, who always took such good care of his family, looked at us and said he wanted one more night at home. We were going to celebrate my sister’s birthday, which happened to be her 50th birthday. So that is what we did. We called family, friends, neighbors grilled, brought in food and we had a celebration, the celebration of two lives, my Dad and my sister.
The next day my Mom, siblings and I all went together as a family to the Hospice House. On the way there we made a stop at one of Dad’s favorites, McDonald’s for breakfast. We sat in the parking lot and ate breakfast and laughed with my Dad.
The next few days were some of the best days and heart aching days. Every morning the nursing staff would get Dad up and take him the court yard at the Hospice house. Being a farmer, Dad loved the outdoors, being sick the last few years he wasn’t able to be outside much. Dad was always surrounded by family and lots of friends. We laughed, told stories, played cards and Dad even enjoyed strawberry malts and onion rings. Dad was such a witness to all those who visited. He would share that God had blessed him and he was ready to go home. The staff commented several times what a blessing my family was to my Dad and to them. They shared that during these hard days we provide such joy. My family knew that in Heaven Dad wouldn’t be in pain and we all know that because of our Heavenly Father’s love we would all be together again. God blessed my family with such happy memories our last hours with my Dad. As a family our last evening together was eating my Dad’s favorite meal of roast and potatoes and watching a Cubs baseball game on TV. Things we did many times as a family.
One evening as I sat in the chapel, praying and reading the Bible, I opened to the story of Lazarus in John 11. In John 11:4 it describes Dad’s sickness… “… Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
My tough dad knew that he was going to die… I’m sure he was scared but I will never know for sure. Instead Dad assured his family and friends that he would no longer be sick and Heaven was going to be great. Although he may not have shared his faith openly, Dad was a man of strong faith. He turned to God for strength and guidance. He shared his faith during the last days and hours of his life. I am so thankful to know that because my Heavenly Father loves us so much he sent His son to die for us, that my earthly Father is now in Heaven. Both of my Dad’s are there together with open arms and someday I will join them.
Dad’s journey gives me strength during difficult times. It gives me courage to pray with others during their time of sorrow. I want the whole world to know what comfort faith in God can give even during a tough walk.
Share God’s love and His Word. God gives Hope so that even in the darkest of time, the promise of eternal life gives comfort.