By Brad Dennis
For years the relationship between my Dad and I were strained. Memories of a childhood filled with selfishness and alcoholism far exceeded memories of a Dad playing catch with me. As an adult our friendship blossomed. We reconnected in ways I had only read about and once longed for.
My Dad passed onto me his love of golf, Carolina basketball and the New York Yankees. Ours was a relationship built on sports and the way two men can get themselves lost in these conversations. As I grew older and he grew sicker I realized there were more important traits that he shared with me. You see, he has an insatiable drive…anything he ever set his mind to do, he did. His quiet strength and fortitude forged strong friendships with others. His dogged determination in his relationships with his friends had him going out of the way on numerous occasions to help them.
I have lost other friends, I have witnessed tragedies, and I have been with numerous families at the worst times of their lives and because of these instances I thought I knew grief. The grief I did not know has washed over me in waves. First as we sat and listened to my dad tell us he was ready to go, and now as I sit and watch him wither away into a shell of the man I love. I now know grief.
His breaths are more labored, the memories of him come like a flood. There are the memories of him coaching my Little League baseball team, teaching me to play golf, the arguments and the love. Memories of him answering my call for help as my High School date and I got stuck in a ditch. I remember he pulled up, got out the jack, jacked up the back wheel and then slammed the car off the jack and back onto traction. He walked over to me and winked and then said, “Son, you need to get this young lady home to her family.” Nothing else has EVER been said about that night. He was the one I ran to during a marriage crisis He is the one that gave my wife her first real “dad” relationship. For all of these memories I am thankful.
I know that most of us hope to bury our parents and not the other way around. I know that what is happening is the circle of life. I know that his decision to accept Jesus Christ into his life brings to life the scripture, “absent from body means present with the Lord.” And even though I know all of these things…right now, I know grief more.
Memories will sustain us in these times. To my friends, expect to see me on the golf course more, as I walk the fairways or line up my next putt, know that I’m playing so that I can reconnect with my caddy – my Dad.
Brad’s father Jerry Dennis passed quietly this morning. Please keep the Dennis family in your thoughts and prayers. MK