Angels in the Midst: Honoring the Father’s Will

by | Jun 4, 1999 | Angels, Will of God

His hair had turned silver. He had lost a great deal of weight, and like most male patients, he considered hospital food all diet food! But he cooperated, treated the nurses with great respect and kindness. He only showed his disillusionment when a member of our family came into his hospital room. His bubbly personality had become quiet and pensive, his anxiety, obvious . Within weeks his strong beliefs would change. (“Never,’ he had always told me, ‘have surgery unless you have had at least three medical opinions, possibly four.”) I search for the reason, still, although I accept the Father’s Will.

My father was a dedicated, loving, and protective. He worked extended hours most of my high school years, often going with very little sleep to ensure my college fund, home, piano and dance lessons, were the best he could provide. He was always involved in my studies, and he ensured that I kept my grades up. He rewarded me yearly with Parker or Shaeffer pen sets and leather notebooks with a zipper to keep all my home-work intact. I assumed all fathers did this . When Mother died, he connected to me even more, as did I. We would have long dinners in his favorite restaurants where the management knew him , well. We could speak privately without being interrupted for hours. Invariably, he would bring up my mother. It appeared as though we reversed roles when he embraced his grief filled with regrets, as though it had just occurred, yesterday. I would sit silently waiting for him to shift to another subject, telling me funny stories to dispel his sadness.

Our dinners were always special, because we shared such special moments. His sense of humor, and generosity made our families on all sides truly love and enjoy having him at familial affairs. They respected his business expertise, his advice, his humility.

I recall vividly sitting down to dinner with my husband and children, three days before receiving the shocking news, throwing me into a double crisis, when we heard a knock at the door. Darkness has descended upon us, which was unusual for that time of day. Nonetheless, I rose from the table, to answer. There was. No one. I returned to my place at the dinner table. Moments later, another knock. My husband and children looked at each other, then at me, wondering if some neighborhood child was playing pranks. Our son answered this time, but only the chilling darkness met him at the door. He returned to his place. By the third knock, my husband got up a bit perturbed, but as he opened the door only the howling of cold desert wind greeted him.

I, suddenly, recalled a folklore our grandmothers had told us, as children: “When there are three knocks at your door, and you find no one there, God is sending angels to prepare you for the loss of a loved one.” I tried dispelling this notion from my mind, preferring to resume our now, cold dinner, making light of our “disruptive visitors.” I said nothing of the old folklore, fearing our children would become upset. Three days later, the folklore would touch reveal its accuracy..

It was Good Friday, and our son’s birthday. I had stayed consciously busy to keep from thinking anything but good would happen to Dad, since I would be returning to Texas before his surgery was scheduled. Little did I know the world I once knew would be turned upside down for decades. In turn my children would suffer from my reaction to my tremendous sense of loss and guilt. When our son came into my bedroom, motionless, staring at me, I began telling him of all the plans his grand- father and I had made. He would be visiting us in Europe, where we would be living, once he recovered from his heart problem. He stood, waiting for me to give him an indication that he could resume his message. My mind drifted. A sophisticated and meticulous dresser, Dad and I would discuss daily in his hospital his new wardrobe – suit colors, ties, shoes, hats complementing his attire, and beautiful hand carved embellished with silver and ivory canes, because they would be fashionable in Europe, and the pains in his legs would be gone, with his new canes to help him walk as he so loved to do.

I had been with Dad three weeks. It was imperative I return to California on business that could no longer wait. When I told him, there was no response from him. Knowing how he loved his large yard with magnolia trees, and exotic plants surrounding the gardens, I ordered a plant for him, he loved from the flower shop, nearby. But he would still not give me his blessing to leave. His sad eyes told me he wasn’t ready to say goodbye for now. His best friend, Coffman, confirmed this to me in private.

As much as I preferred staying with him, his family doctor was at a convention, and I was privy to a conversation Dad had with the two attending doctors, which led me to believe there was still plenty of time before the surgery. I knew my time was short before boarding for California, and devised another plan, hoping it would be less distressing for him.

Buying gifts for dad on his birthday, Christmas and Father’s Day made me very happy throughout the years. So, I decided to go buy him a new silk robe, matching new silk blue pajamas and slippers. When he unwrapped his package, his face lit up, and he immediately had his shower, subsequent to a haircut. We had someone come in to cut his gorgeous silver hair, surrounding his handsome, unlined skin, and was he ever elated! I recalled as a child how I used to buy him ties from my allowance every Father’s Day, and how he still kept them despite the years, along with every gift I had ever bought, especially for him. So I knew these items would soon be added to his collection, or hoped they would. So treasured were my gifts to him, that it wasn’t unusual for him to pull out a pair of new slippers, a new bottle of cologne, or even new cuff links wearing them when I was home in Texas, delicately wrapped in a special drawer he kept just for them, for the gifts I had given to him in preceding years. So, when he mentioned he would “save then” for when he “returns home”, I insisted he wear them, then. I got no argument from him, this time!

With the pressure mounting for my return on all sides, I could no longer buy time, so this time I requested twelve yellow, long stemmed roses. He loved gardens, plants, and flowers.

His comment should have given me a clue, but I was too excited about returning to him, so I overlooked it. He said:” These roses are beautiful, Honey. But I really liked the potted plant, because flowers die.” He took one rose and gave it to me. We shared our goodbyes and I left, holding back my tears until I was out of the hospital, leaving him my big smile , warm hug and kiss to remember.

Upon my arrival from Texas, I began repacking as I took clothing out of my suitcase I had taken with me since my business affairs were nearing completion. I was free to leave California to return to my father’s side! . .My husband was having trouble swallowing that next morning. He returned from his office, pale and distraught. I asked what had happened. He answered:” I can’t even swallow water.” I encouraged him to go to the hospital, immediately. Planning to follow him, I went inside the house to retrieve my purse, (The hospital was only five minutes away.) As he sped away from our driveway.

As I entered the house, our phone rang. Our son answered it.( Suddenly, I am back to listening to what he had to say, returning to consciousness.) He came into my room, and looked at me with sad eyes. I kept talking, fearing what he was about to say. Something told me in the pit of my stomach, it was bad news. “Mom, he said, ‘Grandpa is gone!”

(I reverted to my last call to Dad). I recalled my last conversation with Dad before I left the airport. We couldn’t bear to be apart, so I knew I had to express all those emotions that I had kept locked in my heart, reassuring him, supporting him, strengthening him for the days ahead I would be away, present for his crises, as I had always been. He was pleased, quietly taking everything in. Then, I reiterated “I’ll return in three weeks. Don’t have the bi-pass surgery until I return, ok? I want to be here.” He said, quietly, “Ok, Honey. I love you.”

We faced two crises the day our son gave me the news of Dad’s passing: Numb and in shock, I shifted my attention knowing I had to ensure Bob was ok. As I arrived at the hospital, we were told the surgeon was on vacation for a week. As we started to leave after filling out paperwork and having x-rays done of Bob’s throat and chest,, suddenly a man in civilian clothing appeared, asking jokingly” “Well, what’s been going on? It was the surgeon we needed! When he read Bob’s medical report the nurse had documented, he immediately traded his civilian clothing for his hospital gown, stating Bob was in serious trouble. (It was later discovered there was a sliver from a chicken bone, needing to be removed, immediately.) Lodged in his throat, it was constricting his breathing, the reason for his inability to swallow.

Only an angel could’ve intervened in the physician reappearing at the hospital that very moment Bob was in imperiled. As God was calling my father’s spirit, he was sending me an angel to spare my husband’s life. The knocks, all preceding these two major events in my life had preceded my father’s death by three days. Bob’s life had been saved, subsequent to Dad’s passing.

I believe that from the moment of conception, God determines our time on earth. My father didn’t have to have the surgery before my return to Texas, because he had the option of waiting, not indefinitely, but a month would not have been too long, because his regular doctor was at an out-of-state convention, and his assistants were to wait for his return. I had not planned my return, haphazardly. I had paid close attention to timing and detail before leaving him in his hospital bed.: “Never have surgery without the independent opinion of three, four if possible, physicians” kept reeling in my mind As much as he loved life, and with all the plans we had, his decision has left me unsettled. And, to this day, his surgery and subsequent death, never to see him, hold him, haunt me from time to time. It remains shrouded a mystery that I know someday will reveal the truths. . Does God prepare us for our losses of loved one? If He can send angels to our aid, why not to knock at our doors, reminding us that we are about to grieve, since our most beloved one is about to leave our world?, Why not one in a physician’s garb, while he was not to return to his office for another week. His whereabouts were totally unknown, because he had left instructions as such to be followed.

A panacea. But one difficult to simply dismiss as a “coincidence.” There are no coincidences, only Providence.

Rose Copyright Dec 23, 2001


Angels in the Midst: Honoring the Father’s Will