My dad had a major heart attack last Monday morning. It severely damaged his heart muscle, so that it is now pumping at only ten percent effectiveness. That put dad into congestive heart failure, struggling to breathe against the suffocating fluid in his lungs.
There are no surgical options, so the prognosis is not good. This could be classified as a terminal condition.
Communicating with dad about the various aspects of his condition is made more difficult by the dementia he has been battling for the past several years. There are moments that remind me of when we used to tune in a television signal with a rabbit ears antenna. A snatch of clarity followed by a stretches of fuzziness. Repeat.
Dad’s been sleeping a lot, and even when he’s not, his eyes are closed. Every so often, he would start talking. At first, I thought he was talking in his sleep, or mumbling in imagined conversations. But then, I realized he was praying.
The prayer was one he had obviously prayed many times before. Dad is of that generation that was brought up with and comfortable praying in King James English. His prayers are peppered with “Thee”, “Thou” and “Thy”.
Most of the time, Dad was praying for our family, by name. Now, we have a very small family, so it doesn’t take long. He named me and my brother, our wives, my son (his only grandchild), his brother-in-law and wife and their three sons, his other two nephews.
“Bless them and keep us all near to Thy heart.”
It’s a remarkable and precious thing to overhear your dad praying for you.
Dad expressed gratitude for blessings. He asked forgiveness for “where I have sinned and fallen short in so many ways.”
He prayed blessing for some folks with whom there had once been a ruptured relationship. He lifted up his friends at the assisted living facility where he has lived for the past three years. Dad prayed for the doctors and nurses caring for him.
One afternoon about three days in, the gravity of his heart attack and of his health prospects came clear to Dad’s mind. Within minutes, he prayed,
“Lord, I know you can still do miracles. You are able, so I’m asking Thee for a miracle. Please fix my heart.”
As the week went on, it became apparent that Dad wasn’t improving. His heart rate has remained sketchy. His breath is labored. The end of his journey is surely within sight.
And Dad is still teaching me lessons. He’s reminding me that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”. That what I pray at the end of my life will most likely reflect what I have prayed over the course of my life. That the faith that accompanies the end of my journey will be the overflow of the faith I have stored in my soul at every step along the way.
What faith values are on my Dad’s lips?
-Relationships with the people you love are what lasts—and what matters.
-Divine blessing never fades, and so gratitude to God never ceases.
-Somebody you know needs you to carry them before God’s throne.
-Mercy for sin is still necessary—and available.
-Forgiveness cleanses the soul—and lightens the heart
-There will always be something big to believe God for.
Come to think of it, that’s a great plan for values to mark our lives as well as to be on our lips. Live it now and it will shape you all the way Home.