In the Spring of 1997 I received a call from my step-mother, dad was sick with lung cancer. I decided to take my family and go visit him the following Saturday. A few nights before my trip I was on the phone with one of my close friends, Scott and we were praying. He felt the Lord say that my youngest daughter (at the time) would be the one to minister to my dad.
As we prepared to go see grandpa, Erin, 5-years-old, busied herself rummaging through boxes, in the unfinished second floor of our new home, looking for a suitable gift. We didn't have any wrapping paper, so she used newspaper to carefully wrap her treasure for "Grandpa nice guy". I am certain that she also used an entire roll of scotch-tape and lots of love to finish the job. She made a card and on it scrawled the only words she knew how to spell without help; "love your angel Erin xoxoxo". It was just like the ones she gave me from time to time and seeing it made me smile.
On Saturday we left on the 4-hour journey to Vermont. As soon as I could open the door, Erin jumped from the car clutching her gift for grandpa. She ran past the old dog in the front yard she was usually afraid of, up the front steps, through the living room and kitchen, and out the slider onto the deck where dad was sitting in his wheel chair. "It's for you!" she exclaimed, "open it!" She stood back and watched dad as he struggled with the miles of tape; her impatience becoming ever more evident. She said "you'll need some help" and she began to tear the paper off her gift, a plaque she found in the boxes after we moved to a new home.
When they were finally done, dad commented quietly, "That's very nice honey."
Erin said, "Read it to me Grandpa! I picked it because of the beautiful sunset and the cross with the purple cloth on it."
And so he did, it said "I asked Jesus how much do you love me, and He stretched out his arms and died." There was a strange silence on the back deck that day.
I continued to pray for my father’s salvation and his healing. My older brother, a pastor, was visiting him quite regularly in the hospital as he lived much closer than I did. Despite the continued bad news, and his worsening condition, we all kept praying.
One day I decided to get with a friend of mine from church. He had become a Christian a few years earlier when his wife was miraculously healed of cancer. He and I just sat there in the car at the beach overlooking over Cape Cod Bay, and praying. "Lord save him, he cried out."
"Amen." I added. At that very moment, my pager went off with a text page. "Dad saved at hospital. 4:29 PM" The two of us just wept for joy.
I went to visit dad with my girls February 12, 1998. The three of us laid hands on him and prayed. He had brain cancer now, and he hardly recognize anyone; not even my brother who was there every day for months taking care of him. I simply asked God that he would know our love, but what happened next stunned all of us. He called both my girls by name! He told them how proud he was of them, and how pretty they looked that day.
I kissed him on the forehead as we readied to leave. "I love you son," he said. He hadn't told me that in 40 years. I kissed him again and we got in the car for the long drive home. From the interstate I could see his road winding up the hill to his mountain home, and as I passed it, I knew I would never see him again. He died the next day. February 13th, 1998