I was visiting my father in Florida a few years ago, and one afternoon we were having lunch. Our conversation touched on many subjects and then turned to religion. He said, “I’m not sure if I ever told you,” and he began relating a story back when I was about seven years old.
My father has worked in various aspects of the car business for most of his life. One day he was under the hood of a car, working on the engine when it backfired and shot flames out of the carburetor and he caught fire.
As flames torched his upper torso, no one assisted in helping my dad extinguish the flames, so he did it himself. He ended up in the hospital with severe burns to his neck and arms. I remember my dad not being home for a long time. My mom being really upset those first few days. Me having to go to school but my siblings got to stay home. I always wondered about that, because I hated school at the time.
When my dad finally came home from the hospital, I remember sitting on the front patio with him, showing me the scars on his arms and neck. Long rectangle marks on his thighs where they removed skin to graft on his arms. I remember him telling me he had to stretch his arms to keep his healing skin from shrinking. That part I knew.
But he was about to tell me the rest of the story.
He said, the Doctor told my mom, “if he survives 48 hours it will be a miracle.” When my dad was in the operating room, he said he came out of his body and hovered above it. He could see all that was going on. He saw himself and the doctors as they operated on him. Next, he saw a tunnel with a bright light and began floating toward the light. He said he knew that he was on his way to heaven but all he could think of were his kids. He kept saying, “I can’t leave my kids. I have to take care of my kids, I have to take care of my kids.” He repeated that over and over as he ascended toward the bright light. He was desperate to return for his family. The next thing he knew, he was in the recovery room.
I sat in stunned silence. “ Did I ever tell you that,” he said? No. Never told me that. I would have remembered that. I was at a loss for words. At that moment, in the hospital, my father, fighting for his life, on his way to heaven and the only thing on his mind was his family. Being there for his family. Taking care of us. That is one heck of an unselfish act.
At that moment, God gave my father and his family, that miracle.
I thought, why didn’t he tell us that story when we were younger and misbehaving? What a great story to get us to straighten up. “I came back from heaven for you brats and this is how you act?”
But seriously, I couldn’t even imagine growing up without my dad. All the moments we shared. The lessons learned. The laughter, the joys, the tears, the struggles. But most of all, the love. My father was and is never afraid to show his love and affection for us kids.
I could go on and on about all my father has done and continues to do for us four brats, as my mom lovingly called us. His many selfless acts of love for his family that he was so desperately seeking to get back to.
Thank you God, for allowing my father to return and be here. For giving us that miracle that is our father.
Thank you dad for unselfishly and desperately wanting to come back to be here for your family. For being a living example for what God our Father desires to be for all humanity. A father who loves us. Unconditionally.
If I could be half the man my father is…
Happy Father’s Day dad, to the greatest man I know.
I love you