The first semester of my freshman year in college was an amazing time for me. My extremely shy “self” began to blossom into a friendly, confident young lady. Then came the spring of my freshman year in college. The phone rings in the hallway and my name is called. Mom is on the other end and tells me that Daddy has been to the eye doctor because he has lost half the left half of the vision in his eyes. “The doctor is sending him to a specialist. They are afraid it may be a tumor.” OK…a tumor I thought. That can be fixed. He will be fine. Prayer…
Within days, Daddy was at the specialist who said he would need surgery immediately due to a tumor resting on his optic nerve. “It doesn’t look good,” he said, trying to prepare us for the worst. Prayer…
Surgery day came and I will never forget when the doctor came out to talk to my Mom. “Mrs. Waggoner, we got as much as we could, but the tumor was fingered out into his brain. We could not get it all. This is a very aggressive form of cancer.” I remember hearing the word terminal. I remember following my Mom as she ran into the bathroom and crumpled onto the floor. I had that numb feeling that comes naturally in these situations to protect us from the unbearable. Prayer…
There were so many people praying for us and for Daddy. If you are not a follower of Christ, this may seem very strange to you. But I can honestly tell you that the “peace that passes all understanding” is real. There comes a time when the only answer is faith. I remember that day pretty clearly. The next few months are basically a blur except for a few key memories.
Now here is the key to this story. You see, my Daddy was a really good man. He helped people. He was a kind, Christian man who could cry when a beautiful hymn or sermon touched his could and would give his last dollar to someone in need. So, needless to say, after the initial shock wore off I was angry; very angry. Why would God take my Dad, a wonderful man, when I could think of a lot of others that He could take and no one would ever miss them? I prayed for Dad’s healing, but I was so angry at God.
Months went by of caring for Daddy, crying, praying, going to college, living through some good times and lots of bad times. I watched my Mom surrender her whole life to the care of my sweet Daddy, the love of her life. They tried radiation and chemotherapy. He drank all the nasty green stuff that Mom would read about as possible natural cures. He tried to stay strong. As he grew weaker, we knew the time was drawing near. Mom never gave up.
Amazingly, my anger began to subside. I started to realize that I would never survive this life event without Christ. My prayers began to include my trust in God’s plan, regardless of the outcome. They included my desire to know how to treasure every moment that I had with Daddy. I also prayed to know how to help Mom; how to share her burden.
During this time, my life took a definite turn. It wasn’t a quick 180 degree turn, it was more like a gradual adjustment of direction; a straightening of my path. My life will never be the same. I appreciate life moments, I treasure simple things, I am selective with the things I place value on. Life is precious.
After 15 months, my precious Daddy lost his battle with cancer. Some of you may say that is when I should have been angry with God. I was again, for a time. But when I had my time, I once again realized that my life was empty without my relationship to my Savior. Now here is the amazing part. Even through all of my anger, God never left me. He protected me, cared for me, carried me and loved me even when I didn’t want to be protected, cared for, carried, or loved. When I reached for Him, he was right where He had always been.
Even after 34 years, I have emotional days just remembering those times. It was a life-changing time. I would love to hear from any of you who have lost a parent. Feel free to share this post with others that you think might be encouraged by my story.