Nine years ago today, my dad was ushered into the presence of Christ. It awes me still to think of what that moment must have been like! I remember driving to church that Wednesday evening while he was in surgery at the Arkansas Heart Hospital, unable to be by his side. I remember wanting to just wait by the phone, since I was eight hours away in Lawrence, Kansas. I remember knowing that he would not want that, he would want me to be there. But I couldn’t. And since I couldn’t, I knew he’d want me to go to church. That’s what he did every Wednesday night of my life, unless providentially hindered. So, I went to church, with my heart heavier than it had ever been. On the way, I could only gaze up into the blue sky and white clouds above and know that God was in control. I didn’t know the end of the story, but He did. Yes, I knew it was serious. I knew he might go to Heaven, but I selfishly desired for him to stay on Karen Street.
We were “partners” from the beginning. I was never a burden or a pest to my dad, he enjoyed having me help pour in the motor oil, or hold a board that he was hammering.That didn’t mean he didn’t correct me, no sirree. Of course, I gave him plenty of opportunity. I let him down all too often. I suppose that’s why it was such a shock when he died so suddenly. I had so much to pay back, so much to thank him for, so much yet to do for him.
There is still pain at not having him. I miss him so much. I wish he could see his three other grandchildren. I wish he were there with my mother. I wish I could hear him laugh, or even, just his voice.
But these nine years have been like corrective lenses as I look into the past. I can see more clearly than ever what a gift it was to be Ron Courtney’s daughter. For twenty-six years, I had a dad who was a hard worker, a great Christian, and also my best friend. For nineteen years, I lived under his roof. I enjoyed his blueberry pancakes, his silly songs, and his trumpet playing. I got to sit at his knee and hear stories of my grandfather whom I never knew, and about how he and Mom met. (He absolutely loved to tell about that!) I groaned at his terrible jokes, I listened to him read to me about the Presidents, and I loved those late, late breakfasts at McDonald’s on Saturdays in the summer! I saw in his eyes, everyday, that he believed in me. And somehow, just knowing that my dad believed I could do anything, made me want to be the best at whatever I did. I saw his eyes glisten with tears as he spoke of his own dad. I tried to comfort him, but I never really grasped his pain. On July 29, 2004, I understood.
I have no regrets that I spent more hours at home as a teenager than anywhere else. I didn’t know it then, but I was storing up treasure for the future. On quiet summer nights, when the crickets are chirping and a dog barks in the distance, when the scent of honeysuckle wafts by on a breeze, or when there is a bright, beautiful moon, I can go back by his side; I can bring it all back.
Memories so dear! To me they are the unseen treasures of the heart.
Me and Dad on his birthday, July 2, 1983.
Dad and Nathan, Kevin’s second son, circa 1990.
Dad and Mitchell, November, 2003.
1996 – My senior trip in Washington, D.C. I’m just a *little* excited! 🙂
I hope you can store up some “heart treasure” of your own today. I know I will. Let’s make each day count for Christ, and for each other.