Holding My Fathers’ Hands

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So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you;
don’t be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, help you.
I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up.
Isaiah 41:10 (The Voice)

Some glad mornin’ when this life is o’r
I’ll fly away
To my home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory…hallelujah…. (Brumley)

Daddy gazes up at me from his bed, a hint of a smile on his lips. Beth, Belinda, Susan and I sing this favorite hymn in four-part harmony as Daddy taught us when we were small. Trembling he reaches for me and with a raspy voice whispers, “Hold my hand.” I enfold his boney, cool hands in mine. He tightens his grip on my fingers staring at me through fear-filled, glazed eyes.

He moans and whimpers, twisting his head from side to side, searching for something or someone. Shift change at the nursing home and the staff scurries past his room, arriving and departing. Eyes wide with anxiety he hoarsely repeats, “There goes another one. There goes another one!” I wonder, “Another what?”

What in Daddy’s childhood or past affects him that floods terror through his heart and mind? Has he returned to World War II and the horrors he and the 409th Infantry experienced liberating the prisoners in Dachau? Is it the wounds from the cruelty of those he served during his years as a pastor? Is it the scars from the sexual abuse he suffered as a child?

My heartache and sense of helplessness transport me back fifteen years to my last few moments with Momma. I cradled her tiny fingers in my hand, applying the clear polish and finishing her desired manicure. Her breathing waned and she raised her arms, smiled then lowered them. She stilled. Sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit I watched in wonder. Did Jesus grasp her hands and lift her from her cancer-riddled body? I knelt by her bed and lifting my voice in song thanked God for His comfort and grace.

Once more I bow before my Heavenly Father, confident He holds my hand and I pray. Grant the doctor wisdom to determine the medication and dose that will ease or relieve this anguish in which Daddy dwells. Impart to my sisters and me grace and discernment to best love, honor and comfort him. May he sense the Holy Spirit’s Presence and peace.

With tear-filled eyes I smile and stroke Daddy’s thin, weathered hand. I derive comfort from another of his favorite hymns and croon to him.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace. (Hemmel)

So it shall be as Jesus holds Daddy by the hand and he flies away to heaven’s celestial shore. Hallelujah!

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