Today marks another anniversary, a sadder one this time. On this day in 2002, my father died. A few days before, he had what was supposed to be a routine operation. Something went wrong and he never recovered. He died in the hospital, at 69 years of age.
My father was the youngest of four, preceded in death by an older sister, Mary, three years before. Later on in the same year of his own death, my father’s older brother, Lavern, died, and then the oldest, Florence, died a few years later. The only one of that generation (including spouses) still living is my mother.
Generally, my father had a happy, gregarious nature although he had bipolar depression and also was an alcoholic. He grew up in rural Nebraska at a time when kerosene lamps were still in use, and at the tail end of the devastating Dust Bowl period. He attended school in a one room schoolhouse and rode his prized Palomino horse, Goldie, to and from school. He liked to boast that she was the fastest horse in the school. He recalled one of his teachers whose name was Ms. Albright whom students, rather unkindly, called Ms. Alldumb. He never finished high school, and I think a part of him always felt a bit ashamed about that. He also mentioned listening to radio broadcasts about the events of World War II as a boy, and joined the army around the time of the Korean War, although I don’t think he ever was on active duty.
We were not particularly close, but I loved him and knew he loved me, and I miss him.
He had a pretty good singing voice and thoroughly enjoyed old hymns like the following one. The church I attend focuses almost entirely on high powered (meaning loud), contemporary worship songs, but occasionally they will surprise by including an old hymn. That is what they did this past Sunday and it was a moving experience. It served as a poignant reminder, one I really needed, that in the midst of difficulties, “it is well with my soul.”
It Is Well with My Soul
By Horatio G. Spafford, 1873
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.