By John Beaver
I came in the front door, and walked into the kitchen. Mom was sitting on the floor; her left shoulder was leaning into the wall. The phone was sitting in her lap; her eyes were glued to the wall. Without looking up, or any expression at all, she said, “In there.” as she pointed toward the bedroom. The great week I was having was quickly becoming my worst.
It was the fall of 1980. I had been employed with Norden Laboratories for about five months. Norden was a local business that manufactures Animal Health Products: vaccines, pills, vitamins, etc. I was working as what they called a supplemental employee. Today, I guess I would be considered a temp. The only difference is as a supplemental employee, I did not work for a temporary service, I was on the payroll of the company where I worked. I just didn’t get benefits, and wasn’t paid as much as the full time or permanent employees.
One afternoon just as I was ready to leave for home, my supervisor stopped me and asked me to stop by his office on my way out. I thought great, they are going to lay me off and I’ll be out hunting for another job. Although to my surprise, I was given a permanent job. Normally this took about a year, if you lasted that long, so I was pretty excited to get this opportunity. More money was going to be great, but to have my family insured again was like getting an entire cage full of monkeys off my back. Life was great.
My wife and I had been married a little under two years. We had a one and a half year old son, and another child on the way. We closed on the house we built just one month before I lost my job with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Not a great start for our young family. I guess you could say we were scraping the bottom of the barrel about this time.
I called my parents as soon as I got home from work. I couldn’t wait to tell them about my new permanent job. They were both very happy for us; Mom told me she had been praying for us, and she knew all along God would provide us with what we needed. Daddy said he knew all along things would work out fine. All of my brothers and sisters, and even my mom had always called him Daddy. Kids at school would occasionally make fun of us, but it didn’t change anything, we still called him daddy. It just seemed right.
The next day, I went to work at my new permanent job with a pretty good bounce in my step. It was going to be a great finish to a great week. I trained on some new responsibilities during the first part of the day. Then, just after morning break, probably about 9:30 or so, I started on some of the stuff no one else wanted to do. Scooping the granulated product out of the granulator. Most people didn’t like this job because it was hard work, and it was also quite boring. I didn’t mind; I was just happy to have a permanent job.
As I lifted scoop after scoop of granulation out of the granulator and into a storage bin, my mind wandered. I was thinking about all kinds of things, my wife, my son, church, God, basically my life in general. Then, for some unknown reason, my thoughts shifted to death, life after death, heaven and hell and my dad. I tried to think about other things, but my thoughts repeatedly went back to my father and what would happen to him when he died.
As I bent down for another scoop full of granulation, I felt the need to pray for him. I continued to work as this prayer ran through my head. “God, I know Daddy has not been the best man though out his life, but I think he tries to do the right things. When it’s time for him to go, could you please take him to heaven?” I couldn’t stop thinking about him, and I must have repeated that prayer over in my mind a hundred times that day.
After work I went home, and started to play with my son, when the phone rang. I picked it up, and I heard what I thought was laughter on the other end. It was my Mom. She was laughing out of control while she was trying to talk. Then It hit me, she wasn’t laughing, she was crying. I said, “Mom; I can’t understand you, what’s wrong.” This time I heard it, but didn’t want to believe it. She told me “Daddy is dead.” I asked her if she was sure. She answered, “He’s cold.” I told my wife, she hugged me, and I immediately headed to my parents house.
With Mom’s minimal instruction, I went back to the bedroom. There was Daddy lying in bed. He looked like he was sleeping. He was on his side with one arm under the pillow, and his hand hanging over the side of the bed. I had seen him in this position a million times, but this would be the last time. I knew he was not going to wake up. I sat down next to the bed and held his hand. His hand was cold and lifeless. Just when I thought everything was so great, my friend, my coach, my father, and my Daddy were gone.
I know my dad loved us all, and would do anything he could for us. But through out his life he made a lot of poor decisions, and hurt all of us many times. He made fewer bad decisions later in life, but he still wasn’t a good man. Since I was the youngest of six children, I probably saw his best years. Even then, I saw enough of his ways to make me vow at an early age, not to be like him. Even with the many things I didn’t think I could ever get past, that particular morning, I must have forgiven him. Why else would I ask God to take him to heaven?
I knew something special happened that morning when the coroner told my mother that her husband probably died between 9 and 10 that morning. A higher power was involved, urging me to forgive. I know God answered my prayer that morning. If God is the forgiving, and compassionate God we believe he is, Daddy is with him. In addition, if God forgives me for all of my sins the way I believe he will, Daddy and I will be together again, and this time on a permanent basis.