Friday, June 5, 2015

In Honor of the Best Dad A Girl Could Ever Have - And Updates

"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth:
Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors;
and their works do follow them."
Revelation 14:13

Today, when I opened my laptop to check email,
my heart gave a little, sad lurch.
There it was.
Loud and bold.
On my screen.
June 5, 2015.

I recognized it instantly.
Felt stinging tears rise suddenly...
out of nowhere.

Isn't that how it always happens?
You are skipping along....full of joy.
When it strikes from out of the blue.

Grief is like that.

It just appears.

Then everything is changed.
And it just has to be felt.

So, today is June 5th...FIFTEEN YEARS since I stood in the Intensive Care Unit
by the bedside of the dying man I had dreaded to say good-bye to....
for 33 years.

He was ill for most of my childhood.
I remember rushing to my room so many times,
dropping to my knees beside my bed,
and begging God...pleading with please not take my Daddy.
To please let him live until I was grown.
To please spare his life until he could walk me down the aisle
and see me married to the man God had for me.

God answered every one of those prayers.

Dad wasn't perfect.
He made his share of mistakes.
He wasn't rich.
We struggled financially....a LOT.
He wasn't well-educated.
He only made it through the 8th grade.
He wasn't refined.
He was the most country, laid back, down-to-earth, what-you-see-is-what-you-get person
I ever knew.
I absolutely loved that about him.

Dad grew up in the hills of Tennessee,
in a tiny, little house that was literally overrun with younguns.
He used to tell me how cold they would get and how they could literally feed the chickens
without going slipping food to them through the cracks in the floor.
From some of the stories he told me, it is a wonder any of those younguns made it out alive.

We think we have it rough sometimes.

Dad grew up in the good, old days...when times were bad.
Don't you just love that Dolly Parton song?

I do.
Take a listen.

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Dad was raised not too, too far from where Dolly was.
In my mind, I picture his old homeplace to look something like hers.
When I hear Dolly sing those old songs she wrote about her childhood, I always think of Dad,
because the words make me think of the way he grew up, there in those nearby Tennessee hills.

There is just something about the culture there that calls to me.
The simplicity and the heart of those who lived through those lean times in the mountains.
It appeals to me...on so many levels.

I want to go visit my cousin, Eddie.
He is one of the very few "kinfolk", as they call it,
that I have left on Dad's side, and he still lives in Dad's hometown.
I want him to take me to the spot where Dad grew up,
and where so many of those childhood memories and shenanigans took place.

Dad, along with his twin brother, went to visit there a few years before he died.
He told us how the two of them sat on that old porch together and cried like babies.

I can only imagine.
Wish I could have been there with them.

Dad was probably the most selfless person I ever knew.
He would honestly do anything he was asked to do, without complaint,
without drawing back, without looking down on anyone.
If he knew you were cold, he would literally give you the shirt right off his back,
without batting an eye.
If he knew you needed something fixed, he would dive right in, no matter how dirty
or nasty or deplorable the job.
He didn't mind doing the most menial labor.
It was almost like he just expected it to be that way.
He never thought he was better than anyone else, no matter how downtrodden by society they seemed to be.
He would get down on their level, if need be, and wouldn't seem to notice they were any different than him...because he knew, in reality, that they weren't.

I remember one time there was a man in our church who had developed some sort of throat disorder.
I am assuming it must have been cancer.
The man never was diagnosed, so I can't say for sure.
But, his condition was very unpleasant to be around.
I've seen Dad go in to his room, stand over his sickbed, and take care of his needs more times than I can even remember.
No one else seemed to want to do it.
There was something in Dad that compelled him to help that man.
Another man in our church had serious problems with his feet.
We went to visit him often.
I can still see Dad going to get the container to fill it with water,
coming down the hall carrying it,
then getting down on his knees in front of the man,
and tending to his diseased feet...without so much as a word.
Dad never could pass anybody who was broken down along the road,
without at least stopping to ask if he could help.
He just knew all-too-well how it felt to be in their shoes, and he never forgot.
He just did things like that...all the time...a quiet, unassuming, very much unsung, hero.

Those are just a few examples to explain Dad's character.
To say Dad was humble just really doesn't cut it.
I'm not sure how to embellish that word enough to describe Dad.
Humble seems like a step up for him.

He didn't care about appearances.

I have told of how my family and I are being more and more compellingly drawn towards living a minimalistic life and letting go of the unnecessary.
It is a pursuit that is driving us right now, as we are feeling more and more led
to simplify, downsize, streamline, and purge.
I think my yearning for minimalism stems from two sources...

1.  My overwhelming desire to follow Jesus,
to emulate His life, to focus on the eternal, to shed the excess in order to be more available to Him,
2.  From my deep longing to somehow recapture the essence of who Dad was and how he lived his life.

Dad didn't have much.
But, then again, he didn't need much.
When he died, I was amazed at how very little he really owned.
It impresses me that very little is all he really needed....or wanted.
He just wasn't into "things".
Dad was used to "getting by", and that is all he really felt was necessary.

Dad was the perfect Dad...for me.
He and Mom instilled in me a deep, impenetrable love for God,
and a heart for others.
Their kind is a vanishing breed.
That makes me sad.
Because I feel like we are losing something so precious, dear friends.

In our self-driven quests, we are forgetting about the needs of our fellow man.
In our determination to carry designer bags,
we fail to remember that some carry around everything they own in brown paper.
In our adamance about wearing only the latest name brand,
we ignore the fact that some wear holey rags, or have nothing to wear at all.
In our desire to impress, we insist upon fine linen, while our brothers and sisters cringe to see night fall, as they scrounge for something...anything, however raggedy, just to block the cold.
We over-indulge, to the point of gluttony, while a child, just a few blocks away,
falls asleep hungry.

God forgive us.
We are so guilty.

I am missing Dad so much today.
I can't believe it has been 15 years since I stood there,
heart broken and dreams shattered of him ever seeing the little 11 1/2 week life
that lived and grew inside my womb.
That boy, who would be born to Kevin and me six months and 21 days after Jesus came for Dad,
is Dad's only biological grandchild.
Dad never got to see him...hold him the little "doo-dads", as he called them,
that he loved to make.

So often, Zach will do something really funny, and Kevin will say,
"Zach, you sure remind me of your Papaw."

He does.
It amazes me how much Zach is like Dad.
They never met, but he sure is Dad's grandson.

Dad was so comical.
He could make us laugh on our worst day.
He would get "tickled" and laugh until he couldn't stop.
Watching and hearing him laugh was some of the funniest parts.

Zach is the same way.
He can bring a smile and a chuckle, regardless what else is going on around us.
He is a light and joy and an uplift wherever he goes.
Zach lights up a whole room...with just a smile.
I think one of the reasons God let Zach be so much like Dad is to let us know that through Zach,
Dad lives on.

So, Dad, if I could pick up the phone and call you today, this is some of the things I would say...

I love you so much!
You were the best Dad a girl like me could have ever asked for.
You worked so hard to keep our family fed.
I appreciate every, single thing you ever did for me.
I will never forget the things you taught me about life....
not only through your words, but by your example.
If I could be half as selfless as you were, I would be a better person.
I know you suffered so much in those last years down here.
It broke my heart.
I still remember my anxious phone calls to you every, single morning...
worrying until you or Mom would answer the phone....
hoping with all my soul that you had a good night, and longing to hear you say, you felt better today.
I still panic when I think of all of the close calls, the emergency room visits,
the times we felt we were walking on eggshells and sitting on dynamite.
I can still see your anguished expressions, as you worried about what Mom would do,
once you were gone....
how you pulled Mom's and my hands together over you, as you struggled on life support,
as if to tell us to take care of each other.
We did, Dad.
'Til the end.
She's there with you now, and that comforts me.
I'll be coming, too, Lord willing, and by God's grace,
although I hope it is not too soon!
As much as I miss you and Mom and Papaw and Mimmie and so many others,
I pray I can live down here and be in health to first raise this sweet boy God sent to us.
You would love him so much, Dad!
Kevin and I often talk about how much fun the two of you would have together!
Oh, the adventures you would enjoy!
But, it was not to be.
I'll never understand that.
You almost made the day he got here.
As long as you had waited for a grandson of your own,
and as thrilled and happy as you would have been to meet him and watch him grow up,
God had even better...grander plans for you.
I believe you are watching us...from a distance.
I believe God is letting you see the fine, young man your grandson is growing up to be.
And though it sounds crazy, I have the picture to prove that your face was looking down on
him and me that day in the strawberry field.
Of course, I didn't notice it until I got the picture printed out...and there you were.
I've never seen anything like it.
Zach would make you proud, Dad.
He is abundantly giving...selfless...just like you were.
He is so much like you!
Why, the other day, he felt God nudge him in a store when he saw an elderly customer who appeared needy, and he took his own thirty some dollars and paid for everything she had in her cart!
I can't tell you how that made me feel when he and Kevin came home and told me that.
It reminds me of something you would do.
We all sure miss you, Dad.
Life has been very different...and difficult...without you.
You could fix anything for me, it seemed.
You always knew what to do...what to bring the most complicated into perspective,
to simplify the most perplexing problem.
You just had a way about you that made me feel safe.
Dear Lord, help us, we all miss that!
Kevin misses you so much, as he takes the best care of us.
He, as you well know, is the finest, most noble of all husbands.
God gave me the very best, Dad.
You always hoped for that, and your prayers were answered a hundred fold.
Kevin loves Zach and me with more love than his heart can hold.
He still talks about how much he loved close the two of you were.
He uses your tools from time to time, and he thinks about you.
He remembers all the times you held those drills and hammers and screwdrivers,
and he tears up, as he misses you.
You and him sure had some good times.
We'll all be together again one day, God willing.
Then we'll have eternity to share..and catch up...and finally sing together again.
I miss your sweet smile.
Your funny ways.
Eating at Sonny's with you...hearing you play your five-string....playing along on my guitar....
hearing your pitch-perfect, mountain-style, bluegrass tenor chiming in on those old Louvin Brothers,
Flatt & Scruggs, Jim & Jesse, Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, Osborne Brothers, Reno & Smiley, and Mac Wiseman songs.
Every time I hear one, my mind always, always goes to you...immediately.
Especially ones like....

"Foggy Mountain Breakdown"

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"The Bluebirds Are Singing For Me"

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"Rank Stranger"

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"Limehouse Blues"

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"Are You Tired Of Me, My Darling?"

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...and there must be a thousand other songs that make me think of you, Dad.
Just the first ring of a five string can start me bawling.
I still take your old Old Kraftsman out from time to time...just to recall.
God bless you, dear Dad.
Today, we mourn 15 years without you down here.
How Heaven must rejoice to have you there!!!
I love you more than you will ever know.


And, now I leave you with some good news about Jakob Cooper,
and some good, then not-so-good news about Baby Daxton below.

Updates on Jakob Cooper

1st Update:
Asking for those prayers again. 
Jakob starts new chapter in rehab @ Cardinal Hill tomorrow. 
We are already there today to get settled in. 
Prayers for strength & understanding. 
God's got this.

2nd Update:

 Jakob had 3 hours of therapy today. 
He did good, now he is ready to get back at it again tomorrow, so he can get home. 
Pray he continues to progress!

God is working and moving on Jakob's behalf, dear friends!!
Please keep up the prayers!!

To read former posts about Jakob, click the following links:


Updates on Daxton Gage

God is hearing the many prayers being prayed on behalf of this little guy,
but he still has a very long way to go.
I can't even imagine the up and down roller coaster of emotions his parents must be having to endure.
As you will see in the updates, every time things seem to be going better,
something else happens, but we know our God is in control, and there is nothing too hard for Him!

June 3, 2015 - Update by Daxton's Mama
Our baby Daxton is one week old today! 

I talked with the RN this morning and unfortunately our baby boy has had some set backs. 
This morning Daxton had to be put back on the ventilator. 
Each time he has been taken off of it, he does well for a little bit,
 and then begins to struggle to hard to breathe on his own. 
She said that the doctor has contacted an ear, nose & throat specialist,
 and they're going to check out his trachea and make sure that Dax doesn't have something anatomically wrong that's causing him to have so much difficulty breathing on his own. 
Dax also has to go for a PET scan of his heart this morning. 
They just want a few more images if his heart to help plan out his open heart surgery. 
They also attempted to put his PICC line in yesterday, with no success. 
I'm asking that you please continue to pray for our baby boy. 
While I know it's for his benefit, I know he must be going through so much pain with being poked & prodded all the time. 
My heart breaks knowing there's nothing I can do to comfort him. 
Please continue to share Daxton's updates and his story. 
As I've said many times before, I want as many praying for our baby as possible. 
I know there is power in prayer. 
God bless each and every one of you, 
& thank you so much for everything you've done or are doing. 
It means the world to us.

Update - June 4, 2015 by Daxton's Mama

Talked with Daxton's nurse this morning and not much had changed since yesterday. 

He's still on the vent, & she said he's resting peacefully. 
She said his doctors decided to wait for his scan due to the fact that he would have to go off of his prostaglandins to do it. 
And it's the prostaglandins that are keeping Dax alive. 
So they decided to wait until a later date to do the scan. 
But they did do an echo, an x-Ray and ultrasound on him this morning. 
His nurse did say his lactic acid levels were high,
 so we're asking for prayers for those to go back down. 
She said they could have spiked due to the stress of being put back on the vent and where they tried to do a PICC line yesterday. 
God has brought him so far in such a short time. 
We want to thank everyone for their prayers, kind words, donations, little acts of kindness, everything you've done to help Dax & our family get this far. 
As I always ask, just please continue to pray, pray, pray & share Dax's story every chance you can. I truly believe God hears our prayers and is answering them for us. 
Thank you all for everything!

Update - June 5, 2015 by Daxton's Mama
So much has happened in the last 24 hours, so I'll try to update you all as best as I can remember. As of yesterday's update, Daxton was stable and doing okay as far as his progress went and continued to do so until around 9 pm last night. 
As usual I called to check on Dax before we went to bed,
 and they immediately put me on the phone with his Doctor. 
Dax had taken a turn for the worse, and they were not sure why,
 but his doctor suspected some type of infection. 
They began a preventive treatment of antibiotics, just to make sure because Daxton's lactic acid levels were reading 17 and higher, 
when his doctors told us they didn't want his levels over a 2 or 3. 
His doctor told us that he hoped Dax would get better, but there was a real possibility he could die. So last night, we slung everything we could think of into some bags, 
kissed our older babies goodbye, as they went to stay with their mamaw & papaw,
 and we made the 4 hour night drive from Phelps all the way into Louisville, 
praying, sobbing, and begging God the whole way to please spare our baby boy. 
When we got here, they had given Dax a lot of antibiotics, 
a blood transfusion, and were doing blood gas tests every two hours. 
His lactic acid had come down significantly, and our baby was improving. 
He was very very pale, and his nurse had said he was even more pale just hours before. 
I think "ghost baby" was the word they used to describe it. 
After tossing and turning for the few hours of sleep we did get,
 this morning was filled with such relieving and blessed news. 
Dax's lactic acid levels had come back down to 2.9 and were continuing to improve,
 and his pink color was coming back to his skin. 
I've thanked God and praised him all morning.  
Please continue to pray for Daxton, and praise God with me for this miracle. 
Thank you everyone for keeping our family in your thoughts and prayers,
 and thank you for all that you do!

If you would like to contribute to this dear family's expenses during this difficult time, please click here.   

Let's keep bombarding Heaven on this baby's behalf!!

To read the original post about Daxton, click here.


  1. What a beautiful testimony to your father. He sounds like he was quite a man.

    1. Thank you so much! He truly was. God bless you. :)

  2. oh Cheryl! Anniversaries can be so hard. Thinking about you!!! Sounds like a special man xoxo

    1. Thank you so much, Caroline! Your thoughts mean so much. Oh, he was so special...I could never say how much I miss him and Mom! It is a sadness that never seems to completely go away. I know you miss your sweet Kai so much, too, and I pray for you often. Love you, sweet friend. :)

  3. Hi Cheryl! I know what you mean about a date just hitting you in the face. I pray that you were comforted by all your wonderful memories of a Dad who truly taught you about being a good person, a loving and giving person. What a gift to see that in your own family, and you can talk to your Dad and tell him how much your own boys remind you of him.

    I am SO grateful that the baby is doing better. What a fright you had! Children are very resilient, but Daxton is the King of Recovery! I know he has many more hurdles to jump, but what a wonderful turn-around. I hope he continues to heal.
    Blessings on your tender heart,

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend. Your words are such a blessing and comfort! I did make it through the day, by God's grace. He is so faithful to see us through every moment of grief. So very thankful for your sweet visit. God bless you abundantly. :)

  4. I just discovered your blog from another blog. This post brought tears to my eyes. What a blessing to have had such a father. I have a sweet country bred husband of my own and he is so much like your daddy, I think what we consider a life of poverty is really a hidden life of deep riches. Often those who have the least love the most. Have a blessed day. Shirley in Virginia

    1. What a precious comment, Shirley! I can't thank you enough for stopping by and taking the time to leave such sweet words behind. It was a blessing to "meet" you today. I love what you said about, "Often those who have the least love the most". How very true! Much love and many blessings to you, Shirley!!

  5. What a beautiful tribute to your father! He sounds like a wonderful man, and how wonderful that your son is walking in his footsteps. Blessings, Briana

    1. Yes, Briana!!! I am doubly blessed!! God is SO good. Thank you for stopping is always a blessing to know you have been here. :) God bless you, sweet friend.

  6. My dad and also my husband were born in Tennessee and lived there for a portion of their childhood. Times were tough then and there were a lot of beans and biscuits. Your father reminded me of my dad was laid back and was a good man. You have written a wonderful post honoring the memory of your dad and of course Zack is part of him. Grandchildren often take more after their grandparents than their own parents. When our children were growing up, we often took them to hear the old gospel quartets and family musicians. It was a fun time and so uplifting too. Thanks for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

    1. Yes, lots of beans and biscuits!! Thank you so much for your sweet words and encouragement, Hazel. You are always such a dear blessing to me! :)

  7. I cannot wait to meet your father someday. He sounds like a wonderful person, and how precious that a part of him *lives on* in Zach. It's funny, but the longer my dad is gone, the more I miss him. I think it's because I become more removed from the difficulties and hurts of those last years, and I can remember the good times. But, it's good to have been given the legacy of our dads, and the knowledge that they are just waiting to see us one day again, too.

    Great updates - still praying.


    1. Oh, Sharon! I look forward to you meeting Dad, too...and Mom...and I look forward to meeting your Dad, too. I know you miss him so much, and my heart goes out to you so much. Yes, you will miss him more and more as the time goes by, because as you said, you will start to remember those better times and long for them and wish you could relive them. I don't think the pain of losing a parent ever goes completely away. God's grace is sufficient for us, sweet friend. I pray for you so often! Thank you for your faithful prayers, too. Much love to you.

  8. What a blessing to have such sweet memories of your dad... and to be sharing them with Zach as he grows up and walks with the Lord. I am sorry for the pain you are going through in missing him, though... Life has its share of good and bad... of laughter and tears..... I am praying for you, my friend.

    1. Yes, dear friend, those precious memories are such a blessing to me...I hope I never forget them. Sometimes, I fear I am forgetting certain things about Mom and Dad, and I become so troubled over that. But, thank God, one day, we will all be together around God's throne, and there will be no need for memories to keep them alive in our minds! Thank you for your dear, kind words....they mean so much! I am praying for you, too, and trust God will bless you richly today! :)

  9. This one hit me. Your dad sounds an awfully lot like my dad; born in the south and that humility stayed with fine Christian men. Last month on the thirteenth was the fifth anniversary of my dad's going Home. I miss mine too, sister. Loved the tribute to a wonderful man of God and getting to know our similar roots.

    1. Oh, Floyd! I am SO sorry to hear of your dear Dad's homegoing, also. There is no one like our parents. I remember hearing one of my friends tell me one time that she was an adult orphan...this was several years before I lost either of my parents. I just couldn't fathom her pain, and she went on to tell me how our parents are our past, and how much it hurt to lose them. Boy, was she right. It is such a sad, forlorn feeling deep inside that never seems to completely go away. I am so sorry you are missing your Dad, and I trust God to comfort your heart in every moment of grief. It is such a blessing and encouragement to read your words...they were very comforting to me. There is so much strength to be drawn from shared sorrow. God bless you in a big way, brother.