I traveled to California
To bury my father
With him rest the memories
Sights and sounds of smiles and laughter
The hope for more opportunities
Our last time together he held my hand
Tighter than I thought he could
Tubing travelled from pouch to vein
Heavily he breathed while he slept
Quietly I stared and prayed
While gathering thoughts
Breathing the heavy air
He opened his eyes
He called me near
The same voice
Though shaky and weak
Spoke my name
I returned the gaze
Then for the second time that I ever recall
I heard my dad pray
While holding my hand
It’s been a battle to allow myself to feel this. On Sunday morning, August 9, 2015, I received the dreaded call from my Aunt Jackie. “Lil Donald, your dad passed this morning.” It was a call I had been expecting for months. One I knew would come from Jackie. It was 5 years ago I received a call from Aunt Jackie, my dad’s baby sister, asking me if I was sitting down. I thought it was the call. The call to confirm that after decades of drinking, my father’s liver had given out. But this was a different kind of call. Shockingly she told me that my father had checked himself into rehab. Admittedly, my first thought was, why now? Why after all of these years did he finally decide to stop? It was later that I realized that one of the reasons why was because of his grandchildren. He wanted to be with them and around for them. The next 5 years gave him an extra lease on life. 5 years that I did not expect. We talked on the phone often, he visited me in Charlotte, I went to see him in Los Angeles. He got to meet all of his grandchildren. His rehabilitation did not extend his life for the many years that we hoped, but it did extend the opportunity for us to reconcile, and connect, and to say I love you.
Ever since that phone call, I could sense a change in my perspective in life. I have to do everything I can to love and protect my wife and kids. As a father of four, I realize I have a lot at stake. Every day, every decision I make, there are high stakes. I have to consider my health, financial freedom, faithfulness to my wife, connectedness to friends. Everything. Furthermore, I realize that the stats are against me.
As I near the age of 40, the number 40 stands out strong.
- I am at risk, simply because I am married. My lovely wife and I are holding on strong, by grace alone, but it’s shocking to know that according to the APA, 40% of first time marriages in America end in divorce.
- We have been married for 11 years, and according to the CDC, 43% of first marriages in the U.S. end within the first 15 years. We gotta keep holding on.
- My parents divorced when I was young, and studies state that children of divorced parents are 40% more likely to get a divorce than those that were not.
Like I said, the stats are against me, but I rely on a few things for success. I rely on my faith, extended family support, my friends, and when the going gets rough, my faith some more. When my father held my hand and prayed with me, I was reminded that I need to do this more often with my family. Only Christ sustains me and my marriage.
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