Wednesday, August 15, 2012

As He Lay

My father was an amazing man.  I can’t tell you how many pieces I wrote about him or how many letters I wrote to him or how much I talked about him every day.  He was my hero.  There were things he never knew I said about him behind his back—things like:  “Pops is my boy!”  “That dude pops is a thug.”  In my mind he was like Victor Newman on The Young and the Restless.  He got things done!  And I loved that about him.

My dad KNEW that I loved him because I did my best to both show and tell him, but I can honestly say that he had no idea the full extent of that love.  He probably never knew how much I actually thought about him each day…or exactly how much I admired and respected him……or how I looked for him when I had a problem I couldn’t seem to figure out…or how much I wanted to be just like a female version of him…or how I really did internalize everything he taught me…or how I felt like no one else could compare to him.  My friends and I would constantly reminisce and laugh at all the hilarious and outrageous things he inadvertently said over the years.  I’m quite sure that he had no idea that he was responsible for hours of my mind’s ongoing comedy showcase.  I wouldn’t have known how to put all that into words.  Each time I tried, I had to cut it short because of all my tears.
As my father lay dying, my biggest fear became my reality.  He’d been in the hospital a few times during my life and each time I cried and acted up!  Each time I was afraid that it was the end.  And each time he would say, “Stop all that crying!”  One time, he loudly told someone to get me outta the room with all my crying.  This time he looked at me as I cried and I could tell he wanted to tell me not to, but he knew that he was nearing his end.  He looked at me with loving eyes.  And I continued to cry. 
Although I miss my father sooooo much, I am eternally thankful for the precious moments God allowed me to witness during my father’s last days—my mother adjusting his covers to keep him warm and him re-adjusting them to keep himself cool; my sister and her new husband stopping by immediately after their wedding and my father pleased to see her so happy and lovely in her beautiful dress; the huge smile and satisfaction on his face when my brother, his namesake, walked into the room to spend the evening with him; my father instructing Amari and kissing Halle for the final time; his concern for my mom and relief when I promised him that I would do my best to look after her.  The predominant theme was love.  For the first time I understood that love is what matters most.  It is what remains when all else passes away.  Love is powerful.  God is love and I felt His presence all around me.
I am so grateful that God allowed me to see my father’s face when he laid eyes on Jesus.  That sounds strange, but I saw it.  My dad was lying in the hospital bed.  I was standing by the window crying and talking to the Lord.  My dad sat up, looked past me, lifted up his arm as if grabbing hold to the Master’s hand, and smiled the biggest smile I have ever seen.  His mouth was open as if gazing upon the most glorious splendor.  His eyes looked youthful.  Big.  Blue.  Bright.  Just as soon as he’d sat up, he laid right back down.  Shortly after, I mustered up enough strength to ask him if he was in any pain.  He responded by shaking his head and saying, “I’m so happy.  I’m just rejoicing right now.”  I hadn’t expected that response, but I was glad. 
The day before my dad died, I put my face right in his face and held his head in my hands and rubbed his hair.  “I love you so much, dad!”  I had never been so close to him.  I had never rubbed my hands through his hair.  I had never thought to until this moment.  And it felt so right.  He smiled at me and repeated twice, “I appreciate it.”  I hadn’t expected that response either but that was my dad.  My “dude.”
I miss my dad.  God knows I miss my daddy!!!!  But I am so happy to have had him in my life for 30 years.  I am happy for the memories and the guidance and the love.  And I rejoice because I know I will see him again someday.

R.I.P. Reverend Wimberly Watson I
April 28, 1923 - July 1, 2012