My father and I have a complicated relationship to say the least (read about our past and his mental issues in this blog post). Since my conversion, a curious thing has been happening. Whenever I pray for the souls of the deceased, my father always comes to mind. I wonder: “But he is not dead. Why am I doing this?”
Maybe it’s just a way to protect myself or maybe it’s the Holy Spirit showing me that my father is dead to love and needs prayers to be born to love.
He yells at me on the phone so I don’t call and I haven’t seen him since 2009. With each pregnancy, I have a “mama bear” feeling that I shouldn’t bring my kids to him because of potential abuse.
He has been battling cancer for two years, first lymphoma of the larynx and now lung cancer. He was a heavy smoker and drinker so cancer was not a surprise. He also has heart disease and diabetes. Despite her dedication to him, he hasn’t been very nice to my mother, his caregiver (God bless her).
I got this email from her on Thursday: “Papa has been admitted to the hospital on Monday and will be released on Friday. He is in very critical condition. He will be hospitalized at home and he will not recover. I’ll call you tonight with more details.”
She told me he was struggling horribly to breathe and is on oxygen. These past weeks he was fed through IV. At the the hospital, they found that his catheter had caused an infection (he had it for two years). He also has pleurisy, a virus in his blood and his brain is damaged, causing speech problems. Doctors recommended to stop cancer treatments and to start palliative care at home where he will die.
I weep because even if he was cruel to me, I don’t wish him to suffer a slow, agonizing death.
But I weep for joy because he asked to talk to my older sister on the phone and invited her for lunch, breaking ten years of hatred and silence following a violent episode of drinking. I have been praying for his conversion and I know he is not “there” yet but this is a remarkable sign of humility.
I pray that he turns to God before it’s too late. I pray that he is delivered at last from the emotional and mental prisons that prevented him from loving in this life. I trust that God knows his soul and has mercy on him.
My hope is that he becomes the man in this Bible verse: “ I say unto you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine righteous persons, who need no repentance.”
Luke 15:7 (ASV version)