[This is one of the posts telling a story from the life of my Dad. Click here to see the others.]
When my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year, I couldn't handle it. I had faced some difficult things before, but that was the first situation where my honest feeling was that I had no idea how to get through it.
The most difficult implications of his diagnosis to accept were 1) how badly I would miss him, and 2) that my kids would grow up without knowing him. That second thought literally felt gut-wrenching.
This was especially true for my son. He is named after my Dad, and one of the biggest joys I had during the first year and a half after he was born was seeing how much fun the two of them had together. It was very difficult for me to face the reality that he wouldn't grow up spending time with his grandfather on the ranch, getting to know him first-hand, but that his memories of their times together would mostly be constructed by looking at pictures and video clips.
Part of the routine we go through each night at our house in getting the kids ready for bed is that my son and I say some of the verses from John 14. Chapters 14-17 of John tell the story of a lengthy conversation between Jesus and his disciples on his last night with them, after having washed their feet and before his arrest. Near the beginning of that conversation, Jesus says this to his friends:
"...If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
The connections between Jesus' situation and mine may be a bit of a stretch, but the similarities and differences have caught my attention:
I was fearful of what life would be like for my son as he would grow without being able to be in my Dad's presence; Jesus was trying to assure his fearful friends that life would be good (even that it would be better) after they would no longer see him.
Jesus' concern and mine were both that people whom we love dearly would be able to know our fathers, whom we adore.
Jesus understood something I didn't (which I think has also been the case a few other times). He knew that his friends could, in a very real way, know his Father, because of the life that he and his Father shared. His Father's character, thoughts, emotions, desires, were also his own, so he could say confidently to his misfit group of followers, in essence, "By knowing me and seeing me, you have known him and seen him."
The months since my Dad's death have been a surprising journey of my life becoming more like his in a lot of ways. We already shared quite a bit of the same character on the inside, and it has been profoundly good for me to also take on more of his outward life by managing his business, using his tools, working at his desk, and doing more of the things that he did. (Plus I grew a beard.)
And although I would have loved for my son to have had more first-hand memories with my Dad, I've noticed that the fear of him growing up without knowing his grandfather has faded away. He will know him, because he knows me.