17 years ago today

Posted: February 10, 2008 in Uncategorized

I really debated whether or not to write about this. But because I tend to spew about anything and everything on this space, I determined it wouldn’t be right to leave this particular “life moment” away from your view ….

17 years ago today, my father had a massive heart attack and passed away. He was 57 and way too stinkin’ young.

(Note: There is also a very weird thing about this particular anniversary. Actually, a bit eerie. My dad died on SUNDAY, February 10.)

I have always, always, always HATED this day since he left us on that horrible day.

The cliff notes version of the story goes like this:

He and my mom were at our house in west Nashville, babysitting Chelsea who was about 8 months old at the time. Joe and I went to dinner with friends – dinner at Sperry’s as I recall.

When we arrived home that night, dad was in an unusual hurry to head on back home. They had a 40 minute drive ahead of them. So, around 11pm, they headed out. Just as they were walking down the sidewalk to get in the car, I said to my dad “thank you for watching Chelsea” …. then my dad turned to me and said “No, thank YOU!” Those would be the last words I ever heard my dad say on this earth.

Mom tells the story that Dad was pretty quiet on the drive home.

They made it home. 90 minutes later he was gone. He knew he was having a heart attack. He recognized it. It wasn’t his first. You see, nine years earlier, he had also had an attack that nearly took his life then. But some excellent doctors at Baptist Hospital brought Daddy back to us – at least for nine more years.

I will never, EVER forget the phone call from my mom at 1am Sunday, February 10 where she delivered the news. I heard her. I made her repeat it. Then, I simply dropped the phone. Joe finished the phone call with her. Friends of ours offered to stay at our house with the baby. We headed to my hometown to help mom and plan a funeral.

To date, I suppose it ranks right up there as the worst day of my life.

I made Joe throw that phone away. I didn’t sleep in our bedroom for several weeks after that night. I was a psychological mess that I hid from most everyone but Joe. I buried myself in my work until I allowed God to help me began to heal. Slowly and surely.

It was no coincidence that our first day taking UpRising Church back to the YMCA occurred today, on this particular anniversary. God knew my personal need for celebration in my heart today. Some positives to offset the negative.

I’m thankful to be in different place now as it relates to the death of my dad. Just like any tragedy that happens in our lives, time helps heal. And God does an amazing work of helping us recall the very best memories, and give us a peace that tames the sad memories in our soul.

Joe actually included a moment about my dad in his message today. I was pleased he mentioned it. I didn’t cry as he recalled some of the details from 17 years ago. It simply became a time of reflection for me – a time to remember the incredible influence my dad had on my life for those 31 years.

And when all was said and done, maybe I didn’t turn out so bad. I’ve got to believe he’d been proud of his daughter, who turned out to be a pastor’s wife.

I dedicate these lines to the man I called “Pooh”.

  1. Paul says:

    Thanks for sharing. With mom passing less than 2 months ago, it is good to know that it will get better. It sure hits at some weird times and not sure what the triggers are. Our experience with mom was different in that we had about three months to say goodbye and I am thankful for that but I sure do miss her.

  2. Joe Case says:

    I truly loved “Big Rodg” as I called him. He was such a passionate man…passionate about seeing his daughters do well. I am thankful to be accepted and approved by him to be his daughter’s husband.
    Just as I miss my own dad, who also died at a relatively early age, I miss Roger. I would love to sit with him and talk about what he thinks of our church, and life in general. One thing is for sure, you would know where he stood on ANY subject.
    I do believe he is very proud of his eldest daughter. Heck, she’s got some of his best qualities living on in her!

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