We received the text from my youngest brother and sister around 9:30 pm on June 12th, 2013.
"Dad isn't home from school yet"
This was very out of character of my father who is a creature of habit and was always walking through the door around 4pm each day. The end of the school year had drawn almost to an end. He only had 2 half days left. We tried to ration that he was packing his room up, or maybe he had just fallen asleep at his desk as the days required all of the strength he had.
My youngest & only sister Allyssa offered to drive up to the school to see if his car was there.
Patiently, I waited with my mom and brother Matt. We had gone to the lake house for a few days to spend with Presley Ann my brother's daughter. Severe storms had hit that night and there was hardly any cell phone reception.
The only communication I had was through my computer. My brother Matt finally re-booted his phone and was able to reach Allyssa who had now gotten to Belleville High School where my Father taught History.
"Dad's car is the only car in the parking lot, what do I do" said Allyssa. You could hear her voice starting to shake.
Mom immediately dialed the Police department and had them dispatched to the school within minutes. They wouldn't allow my sister to go into the school with them so she waited in the parking lot. We waited at the lake house pacing….pacing….praying. With each minute that grew longer the panic started to come that something was wrong.
When all of us children were born, Daddy had a nickname for each of us. He also wrote a song for each of us and would sing it to us each night before bed time. Mine was "Bubba Girl".
"She is a Bubba Girl, She is a Bubba Girl, She is a B-U-B-B-A G-I-R-L Bubba girl….All time Action, All Time Favorite All time Bubba Girl" With this silly little noise at the end.
Dad was the kind of Father that would stay up all night Christmas Eve making our presents. One year, he had spent months making my brother's flight helmets and me the most beautiful doll house. He had the entire house carpeted and wall papered and he and my mom furnished it and bought my favorite thing in the world…"Barbies."
Dad was the kind of Father that would tuck is in at night and had created an entire series of what he called "Floating Log" stories. These were really just illustrations from the Bible that he was teaching us yet; we were too young to understand. At the end we would say "Do the claw daddy, Do the claw!" (Jim Carrie did NOT invent that, my Father did). He would tickle us until we giggled so hard mom would eventually holler "Mike put them DOWN!"
I realized around the age of 8 that I had a special hold on my daddy's heart. We had traveled to Kentucky to visit with our relatives. My brother's had inevitably gotten into a fight and were going to be "Spanked" upon reaching grandma and grandpa's house. Because dad was driving, he had no way to discern if I was involved in the fight so we were all going to pay the price. (I probably had a little something to do with it).
When we got to Grandma's. Dad followed through to his word. First went Matt. Then went Jamie. Both coming out of the bedroom sobbing.
Then it was my turn….
"Daddy, I promise you it was the boys not me! Daddy, I didn't do anything" I said in my little high pitched voice. His response was this......
"Okay sweetie, but it's unfair to your brothers so were going to have to pretend I'm spanking you too. So I'm going to hit the pillow 3 times and you need to fake cry at that point"
We pulled it off. I knew then, I was my Daddy's little girl.
As we grew older my relationship with my Father became one of adoration. I simply adored the man. He could do no wrong in my eyes.
We shared the same sense of ridiculous humor. Watched the same movies over and over and over again. We could literally quote every line from Top Gun back and forth until it made my mother just sick.
When I was 2 years old my dad took me to my first Michigan football game. I sat on his lap. In the last 3 years, we've attended almost every football game together. The last game he attended, we were fortunate enough that our friends on the coaching staff allowed us to walk down the tunnel and watch the team warm up together. It meant so much to my Father. It meant so much to me that I got to share that with him.
The last game we attended was the Spring game just a few months ago. I had no idea I would never be sitting in the "Big House" with my Daddy again.
When we lost my brother Jamie in a car accident near Nashville, October 20th, 2011 & then 3 weeks later lost my sister's precious baby Lillian (named after my Dad's mother) at the young age of 3 months; I saw a new side to Dad. The communication between us opened up to a very deep level.
I would always wait for dad to get home from school. Mom would have dinner ready and we would sit and talk until he was ready to go to sleep. We talked very much about Heaven, where Jamie and Lillian were what it would be like. We talked about when it was our time to go and what it would be like to be on the other side.
We would tell each other "If you get there before I do…." Preceding a list of "tasks & hello's"
Dad gave me specific advice about men, and who he wanted for me and what he wanted for me. He told me time and time again, "You can have any man in this world that you want, make sure its the man that God has picked out for you".
Dad had fallen back in love with Jesus after losing Jamie and Lillie Bear. Each morning, when I would stay at my parents house, I would wake up to Christian music, my dad singing and praying. He wouldn't openly talk about it with anyone but me. But he said to me one day "Everyone thinks I am so strong, and if they could see my heart, they would see I'm a broken man".
Dad and I would cry together many times alone. We tried to be strong for my mom and siblings but there were many times we just held each other and wept over the loss of my brother and niece.
He always said..... "I can't wait to go home to Eternity, but; I don't want to leave my family."
This brings me great comfort.
Comfort because I know that the Heavenly Angels came to him in his classroom and carried him Home. By God's will. It was his time. His work and journey on earth had been fulfilled.
An EMT which was on the scene at the high school came up to my sister. She had Matt and I on speaker phone. We then heard the words we had been dreading for the last 45 minutes.......
"I have bad news, your father didn't make it"
It felt like a knife was thrust into my heart. I couldn't breath, I couldn't do anything accept hit the floor and scream out in pain.
My biggest fear for the last 30 years had come true. Daddy had gone home to Heaven & I wouldn't ever see him on earth again.
In the Bible TEN is the number of perfection or completion of God's "divine order."
Dad served in the US Marine Corp, He served his church for 10 years…and he had taught for 10 years.
His work on Earth was done….It was completed. God called his son home.
I can only imagine the celebration he and my brother had when they saw each other. I can only imagine how tightly he squeezed little Bear. I can only imagine him running to his own mom and dad's arms.
I can only imagine how miraculous and wonderful that day will be when we all as a family will be reunited together, forever for ALL of Eternity in our Home.
My heart is broken. I'm human and just because we are saved we still grieve. However; we grieve differently.
We grieve with an assured hope that we WILL in Jesus Name see them again. Does that take the pain away? No, of course not, we've lost 3 of our loved ones in 18 months. The pain is unsurmountable.
But we know with an assured hope we WILL see them again one day.
My father changed so many lives here on Earth. More than he could have even imagined. And I will as his daughter, follow in his heroic footsteps and live my life for Christ.
If I can have half the impact that my Daddy did here on Earth. It is by God's grace, I've done something right.
I love you Daddy, I'll miss you every second of everyday. I know you aren't far & I'll run my race until the day when I get to run into your arms and "Bear Hug" you once again.
Tell Jamie and Lillie Bear we miss and love them too.
Daddy, I am so honored to have been picked by our Heavenly Father, to be your daughter here on Earth.