…Sergeant Pepper and all that…. actually, for me, an event 50 years ago today, changed my life, and had a massive effect on me for a good many years following….
I’m so grateful that, in God, I have someone who, because of grace, takes all the things that are duff about my life and turns them to good: all the things that hurt, and with the warmth of his love, helps me through the pain that life has inflicted. But even with that love and grace, there are still memories… sometimes there’s even still some pain, but, handed back to Jesus, who came to take my pain, and with a good measure of grace firmly dousing me, the pain is bearable.
When I was 12, that year, on September 30, 1965, an event occurred that changed my life forever. My dad, a man described by our then Pastor, George Cumming, as Stephen was described, at his ‘funeral’ – a man ‘full of the Holy Spirit and faith’, went home to be with the Jesus he loved and worshipped. Dad was a quiet, rather shy man: for most of the first 25-30 years of my life, I inherited that, though dad’s death compounded it, and I became very shy, withdrawn, so much so that mum was recommended by doctors to put my under a child psychologist. She didn’t, bless her: though she struggled to bring up a surly teenager as a single mum, when she was going through the grief of losing the only man she ever loved. Truth is, mum never got over dad dying, and part of her died that day, too, even though she lived another 45 years.
Dad was only 41 years old, and I loved him to bits. How I’d have loved to have walked these last 50-years with him, sit with him, talk with him, laugh and cry with him. Dad was a bomber pilot in the war, how I’d have loved to have talked with him about those experiences. Dad was practical and clever: he was an accountant, but he was a brilliant woodworker. Oh, if only I’d inherited dad’s craftsmanship! When I did my woodwork ‘O’ level (GCSE for those less than a certain age!), I handed in a pile of broken wood, not the neatly jointed thing that everyone else in the exam seemed to make! My grade 9 (1-6 were pass grades then, 7-9 fail grades) was testimony that dad had taken his furniture-making ability with him to heaven! His writing would, these days, be neat and ‘arty’ enough to make a computer font.
If I could ever be half the man my dad was, I’d be a happy man. His wisdom, kindness, strength, and love, were amazing. I still got into trouble, and punished, though…. :). That day, I’d just got home from Lewes County Grammar School for Boys (they wouldn’t let me into the Girls’ school – though if they had, I was too shy to know what to do!!): the doctor’s car was outside our house, and my aunt was in our house. I’d been home from school just 9 minutes, hearing dad struggle for breath upstairs… the last words he ever spoke were ‘Lord, if I’m dying, forgive me’….
I miss dad almost as much today as I did then, from 9 minutes past 5 on 30 September 1965… 50 years, the golden celebration of his worshipping the God he adores, face to face. See you one day, dad…