I Thought He Would Live Forever ( Part 2)

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read part 1 here: I Thought He Would Live Forever ( Part 1)

I became a star cross country runner in high school.  I was state champion my junior and senior year and I owe all that to my dad. He gave me a passion to run and the work we did running and the lessons he taught made me the runner I am.  I once remember asking him why he always started downhill.  Wouldn’t it be easier to go up to Big Culver a half mile and go around the peak or something so that you end going downhill to Little Culver instead of finishing every run with a half mile uphill?  He told me his runs are a lot like life. The flat roads of life are easy son, and the downhills are even easier. You can coast along and everything is alright. Your marriage is good, your kids are healthy, your successful at your job, your faith is strong. But what happens when you hit the uphill. When life gets tough. When your marriage is struggling, when your kids are sick, when you lose your job, when your faith starts to waver. That’s when you find out what kind of person you are. Are you going to quit? Are you going to walk away from your wife, your kids? Are you going to get angry and think everyone is out to get you? Are you going to yell at God and tell him you don’t need Him anymore? Or are you going to push on, are you going to persevere? You know that even if you feel like stopping and you feel like quitting that if you keep on going that you will get through it, you will make it to the top.  Tough times don’t last son.  Tough people do.

2 Timothy 4:7 #christianquotes #scripture #inspirational #quotes

I can hear his voice telling me that right now.  I take a deep breath and stare out the window, blinking a million times a minute to keep the tears from coming.

I remember it was my thirteenth birthday the first time I made it up the half-mile hill without stopping.

More memories flashback as I remember the days of my youth. I remember the friends I haven’t talked to in years.  I remember my high school sweetheart. I remember my mom’s kindness to everyone who came into the diner. I remember my dad’s hard work. I remember the day I told my parents I was choosing to go to The Ohio State University instead of The University of Colorado.  They were heartbroken but they knew I needed to get away.

I remember the last time I ran with my dad before I took the plane east. We didn’t say a word, just ran in rhythmic breathing. He had slowed down as he became older and I had become remarkably fast but we stayed together. 

Sometimes more is said in silence than words could ever say.

The pilot comes on asking us to buckle up as we start our descent into Denver.  The Rocky Mountains come into view and my heart skips a beat. It’s been a long time, too long. We land and I pick up my rental car and drive the hour plus home to Little Culver.

It’s July 19th, so there isn’t much traffic.  I approach the Culver Pass Tunnel and a million emotions sweep over me.  It doesn’t seem as big as it did when I was ten years old and they have added more lights to it, but I can still see it as I did all those years ago.  I come out and head uphill to Little Culver.  I pull into our driveway and have to sit in the car for a minute. What’s going to happen to mom now?  Will she stay here by herself? Will she come back to Ohio with my family?  A thousand things I had not even thought of before now. I was numb and in shock, I believe.

I thought he would live forever.

I walk into my childhood home and give my mom a hug.  It’s funny how everything seems big when you are little. Everything seems so small now.  Our front door, my bedroom, our living room, our one street town even seems smaller. My mom even seems smaller. So much more fragile than I remember. She holds on to me longer than I thought she would, she has always been so strong.  I don’t let go. She pats me on the back, signaling it was time and grabs my cheeks and looks me in the eye and tells me we better get to business.

It was a long, sad day. We made all the arrangements, had hundreds of well wishers offering us their condolences. My dad touched more people by the way he lived than I ever knew. At his funeral, there was a line that went out farther than our little funeral home could hold.

I knew I had to go for a run before I left. I had to get the stress and the emotions out of me. I just needed to get out by myself. To run, to be free.  I laced up my shoes and ran down the hill like we always did. I hit the Culver Pass Tunnel in full stride. It felt good to feel the Colorado air in my lungs again. I was in the tunnel and the emotions overtook me. I sprinted as fast as I could and when  I came out of the tunnel I broke down. I fell to my knees as tears streamed down my face.  I yelled at no one in particular. I hit the ground with my fists.

I knew I would never run through that tunnel with my dad again.

I gathered myself together and started to run again. I looked out at the beauty God had made and remember my dad telling me to always stop and look at the beauty around you. Life will get busy but don’t forget what really matters in this life. I’m sorry dad for not coming home more often.  I’m sorry for not calling more. I’m sorry for….but then I remembered dad telling me that life goes on no matter what happens to you. Respond with kindness, react slowly, forgive always, and always, always be a man that keeps his word, a man of integrity and character.

I turn around and head back home. I run through the tunnel and hit the hill with a smile on my face. I am heading up the hill, feeling strong. I think I might just go all the way to Big Culver. A slight breeze blows to my right and I look over and I swear for just a second I see my dad running right alongside me. I’ll make it through this struggle It’ll be all right. Life goes on but a part of me will never be the same. A part of him will always be in me. I make it up to Little Culver and stop. Thankful for this town, thankful for my mom and thankful for my dad, all who made me who I am today. Sometimes it takes a loss of a loved one to remember that we are alive and that we will be okay.

I thought my dad would live forever and he will, a part of him will always be in me, in my children, in their children,  always. Image result for I thought dad would live forever

Song For Dad by Surrender The Crown –

Miss You All The Time by O.A.R.-

Fishing With My Dad by Bobby Bones-

What I Wouldn’t Give by We The Kings-

Chevy and Daddy by AJ Sanders-

Hold On To Memories by Disturbed-

While You Still Can by Brothers Osborne-

Time Machine by State Champs-

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I Thought He Would Live Forever ( Part 1)

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Little Culver, Colorado.  That’s where I am from. It’s a Mayberry type of town, one main street, two lights, the old school that was there before they built the new one in Big Culver, that’s now a bed and breakfast, a small cafe that my parents own and one gas station.  We are exactly a half mile from Big Culver, which is exactly one mile high from the rest of the world.   We are approximately one hour and twenty minutes from Denver.  At least we are now, but we weren’t always.  It used to take almost four hours until in 1970, the year I was born, Culver Pass Tunnel was made.  They blew up part of the mountain and made a tunnel that was a smidge over a quarter mile long.  By doing that, the trip to Denver became a lot less time-consuming.

We are on the west side of Culver Peak.  The first major peak as you enter the Rocky Mountains from the plains.  If you go east from Little Culver and go up the mountain to Big Culver, you will find the best world-class ski resort in Colorado. I believe that is why they made Culver Pass Tunnel. No one is going to drive four hours from Denver to get to it when they have so many other options. But now, book your reservations early because, during ski season, there will be no rooms available. If you go up the rest of the mountain east of Big Culver and cross over the peak, you would swear you could see Ohio.  My dad once told me when he and mom were missing me, they would go up there and pretend Ohio wasn’t so far away. Once you get down from Culver Peak, it is almost all flat lands as far as you can see.

I moved away when I was eighteen to go to college to go to The Ohio State University. I am now forty-eight years old and this will be my fifth time back in the last thirty years.  Life gets busy, school, job, wife, children, finances, etc.  I can make a million excuses but if I really wanted to go back, I could have found a way.

Why do I find a need to write all this down and tell you? I don’t know. I think I am trying to get my mind right, get my thoughts out. I’m on Southwest Airlines flight 447 from Columbus, Ohio, where I currently reside with my wife and four daughters, to Denver Colorado. I stare out the window, thirty-five thousand feet above the ground but my mind is a million miles from this world. 

Last night I got the call from my mom, dad had passed.

The only thing I could think to say was I thought he would live forever.

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In about five minutes, what I am writing now will be in the future as we cross the central time zone.  Another hour from that and the rest of what I write will be in the future as I keep losing time.  I wish life was like that and I could go back a few hours, a few days, a few months to see my dad one more time but time, and life, doesn’t work like that.

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My dad is, was a truck driver. Mostly he would drive from Denver to Kansas City and back. Sometimes he would go from Denver to Salt Lake City Utah.  Usually out and backs so he was home often. My mom is the best cook in the world. She owns the Little Culver Diner.  It seemed like almost everyone from Big Culver would come down the mountain to order my mom’s famous home-cooked meals.  On days when my dad was gone, I would help mom set up the diner in the mornings, she would make me a ham and cheese omelet and then I would catch the bus up to Big Culver to go to school. After school, the bus would take me back home and I would help mom out in the diner as well. I believe I am a fine cook myself but I do not compare to my mom. On days when my dad was home, he was an avid runner. He said it helped clear his mind and free his soul.

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I remember the first time he let me go down from Little Culver to the Culver Pass Tunnel. I was ten years old and my dad let me ride my bike with him. For a ten-year-old to look down a half mile road that was all downhill and curves, it was quite intimidating. I rode the brakes all the way down, I think I used all the rubber off the brakes that day. My dad was patient with me. We finally arrived at the pass and it was scary as well. Imagine a quarter mile tunnel that had very few lights. Parts of it, I could not see my dad ten feet in front of me.  He wanted me to ride in front so he could watch me but I was having no part of that. After we appeared on the other side of the tunnel, I was awestruck from the view.  Amazingly, the road was mostly flat but to either side of us, it looked like you could fall off the face of the earth. We would go anywhere from one and a half miles to three and a half miles before we would turn around and head back home. I had to walk my bike up the half mile back home.

One last view of the city below

As I grew and got older, I started to run with him. I ran on days when he wasn’t home so I could get stronger and faster and he wouldn’t have to slow down and wait on me. There were days when he wanted to run by himself and I was heartbroken.  I didn’t understand the need for him to be alone. Of course, now that I am older and a parent, I totally understand. Days when I run are the only time of the day I am alone with just me and my thoughts.  Running is my sanity.  Looking back,  I am actually surprised he let me go with him as much as he did. Being stuck in a truck all day, that was his time and he let me share that with him. That’s the kind of man he is, was. 

It’s hard to think of him in the past tense.

After all, I thought he would live forever.

To be continued….

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Dad by Tyler Wood –

Dad’s Old Number by Cole Swindell-

Hey Dad by Matt Stilwell –

Heaven Bound Balloons by Granger Smith-

Killing Me by Luke Sital-Singh-

Why God by Austin French-

Jealous Of The Angels by Katherine Jenkins-

If Only by Escape The Fate –

January 11th, 2017 by Mike Posner-

 

 

 

Your Rose Garden

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I watched you for what seemed like hours as you tended your rose garden. I never understood why you would want to have so many roses and why you would want to spend so much time out there. You would always say you loved the way the dirt smelled. You would spend countless summer days bent over the garden, sweat dripping from your brow, pulling the weeds and pruning the roses. You would come inside sweaty, dirty, and looking exhausted but you always had a smile on your face.

I don’t get it I would say. You would reply, what’s their to get. It’s my time to do what I love and it’s my time I spend all alone with God. You should hear the conversations we would have. I would always reply I don’t know if I want to and we would laugh.

Even in the dark cold days of winter you would get bundled up and go outside to walk the path through your garden. Talking to them, touching their dead branches. Of course, I didn’t get that either. Why on earth? You would always say that they aren’t dead. There is life inside of them. They are like a lot of people in this world. Walking dead but there is life in them. It’s up to us to bring that life out. Waiting patiently, for today they may appear dead but with tomorrow there is always hope.

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You are like that. You had a natural beauty that I was instantly attracted to but it was your inner beauty that would light up my heart. You could walk into a dark room and it would be like someone turned on the lights. It is the type of person you are.

Until one day you were taken from me. A teenager was texting and driving and ran into you. Neither of you survived. God needed his angel back and I had to pay the price. At your funeral the pastor recited your favorite bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Forget you God. If this is your plan then I don’t want any part of it. I looked out the back window and saw your rose garden. In my grief, I ran outside and I pulled and broke and cut every rose bush. I screamed and hollered your name. I screamed at God.

Out of breath, cut, scratched, and bleeding from the thorns, I dropped to my knees and let my tears water the lifeless dirt.

Summer turned to winter and, like the days , my heart grew darker and colder. I didn’t know how to live without you. I didn’t want to live without you. God should’ve taken me with you. My pain was too much to bear.

I looked out the window and saw the bare garden. I finally understood what you meant. Even if they appeared dead, at least they were still there. Now there was nothing but bare dirt. I grieved more as I recalled that day I destroyed what you loved.

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As seasons go, winter turned to spring. We had an early spring this year. I looked out the window and could not believe my eyes. Somehow in the very back of the garden, barely visible from where I stood, a rose bush had survived and now had two roses blooming.

I ran outside as fast as I could. I had to touch them to see if they were real. As I did, I could swear I caught a faint scent of you. Then in the spring breeze I could swear I heard your laughter. I immediately dropped to my knees and grabbed a handful of dirt. It smelled so full of life.

In that moment, I felt my heart start to beat again.

I went out and bought as many rose bushes as I could find. There had to be at least a hundred of them and I was going to fix what I destroyed. I was going to fix your rose garden.

I labored for hours that first day. I went to bed exhausted, sore and smelling like dirt but I would wake up refreshed, ready to start again. I realized I could not do it on my own.

I looked at my phone, hesitant to dial their number. I dialed anyway. I called the teenagers parents and they came over to help. I think all of us healed a little bit that day.

I watched every day as your garden came back to life. I spent hours out there talking to you. I slowly learned to talk to God again.

Summer rolled around and I was still in the garden. Sweat rolling off every inch of my body but it was okay. I stood up to take a break and I swear I felt your hand touch mine. I closed my eyes remembering what your touch felt like. I looked down at my hand but yours was not there. I started to lift it up when a beautiful butterfly landed in my palm. Then a sliver of light fell right on it, giving it its own spotlight. I smiled, then the butterfly fluttered toward my face and touched my cheek, as if giving me a kiss. Then it flew to a nearby rose and I did something I hadn’t done in a long time.

I said your name out loud. Kim?

Then a summer breeze picked up and I swear I heard it carry your laughter. Tears fell down my face but I smiled.

In your rose garden I found life again. I found you again. I found God again.

I miss you every minute of every day but it was right there and then that I knew I would never be alone.

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Maybe Today

 

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There was a time

When I would hit my knees and pray

 

Thanking God you were mine

But that was before He took you away

 

I was upset, no, I was angry

Eyes sewn shut

 

No light could get in

I never thought to look up

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Running in circles

Can’t catch my breath

 

Don’t want to live

I would prefer death

I am out of tears

I scream and shout

 

I don’t want to grab the hand

I can see reaching out

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It never occurred to me

That I was on the wrong side

 

Until through a single crack

Appeared a slither of light

 

A feeling I can’t explain

A weight lifted off my chest

 

I could suddenly breathe again

A time to heal, a time to rest

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All the hurt and pain diminished

Understanding the tears I cried

 

Then a voice, I understand your pain

For my own son died

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Spinning by Disciple- 

Pull The Plug by I Prevail- 

On My Way  by Hayden Panettiere- 

Keep Your Eyes on Me by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill – 

The Wound Is Where The Light Gets In by Jason Gray – 

Four Years Ago

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Four years of school seems to take so long

But I blinked and four years have gone

Seems like just the other night

The last time I held you tight

Seems like just yesterday

In my rear-view, you waved

I can hear the drums you played for me

You could play them all, George Strait to Bon Jovi

I get my work ethic from you

A piece of you in everything I do

If you could, ask God to give me a break

You know from fishing I don’t do well having to wait

Tell our loved ones hello

And that we miss them so

I had to laugh the other day

When I remembered something you would say

Funny how things like that pop in your brain

Life goes on but it’s not the same

Tomorrow I will watch the sun rise at dawn

Can’t believe it’s been four years since you’ve been gone

dad

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My Old Man by Zac Brown Band – 

Not All Heroes Wear Capes by Owl City – 

The Other Side by Colton Dixon –  

You Should Be Here by Cole Swindell – 

From Where You Are by Lifehouse – 

The Last Leaf

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painting by John Edwards

 

I watched her clinging to life. The last leaf on the tree.  I didn’t know if I should feel sad for her or if I should admire her.

Should I feel sad for her? I mean, she is the last leaf. All the other leaves are gone. Her husband, her kids, her close friends, her distant relatives. All of them were gone. Why was she still clinging to life?  Why would she want to hang on?

It was then that I thought I should admire her.  She was strong. She had more to say. Yes, she longed to be with her friends and family but she wasn’t done with this life yet.

She gave me hope.  She gave me a reason to continue. The cold winds blew, she held on.  The rains came, she held on. The snow came, she held on. I knew if she could do it that I could do it too. There wasn’t anything that could take me down. I had a story to tell. I had a reason to hold on.

Every day I looked at that leaf. I wondered how she could do it. Some days were worse than others.  At least that’s how I felt. I swear that she smiled at me. Even in the worst conditions I felt like she was smiling. I wondered what she was up to. I wondered what did she know that I didn’t know.  Where did she find her joy?

Winter faded to spring. The warmer weather brought the green buds to life. The leaf held on. The new leaves overtook the tree.  I had to look hard to find her but she was still there.

Then one day she was gone. I saw her on the ground.  I imagined she stayed long enough to teach the new leaves what she knew. I could see her looking around with a smile on her face. I could see her saying it’s okay. I could see her saying it is now my time and then letting go of the branch.

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I had to pick her up and take her home. I put her in my scrapbook along with the picture of my grandma. She reminded me a lot of my grandma.  Tenacious, stubborn, lived longer than most of the people she knew, and she passed down her words of wisdom. She passed down her Bible, with all her underlined and highlighted passages. Words that spoke to her.

I know it may be silly, since she was just a leaf, but she taught me a lot. She helped me to remember a lot. She helped me to be thankful for what I have. She taught me to cling to life.  It is precious.

I am thankful for that leaf. I am thankful for my grandmas and grandpas. I am thankful for my parents. I am thankful for my teachers. I am thankful for all the military. I am thankful for all those that have come before me, that have paved the way for me.  The ones who gave me words of wisdom and taught me lessons. The ones that encouraged me, that gave me life, that gave my dreams life. To all of you I say thank you.

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If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it.

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In The Time That You Gave Me by Bradley Walker feat Joey Feek – 

My Last Breath Here (Joey’s Song) by JK Nick Nichols – 

Tears Of Joy by Phil Wickham – 

See You There by Joey Feek – 

To Say Goodbye by Joey & Rory – 

Live On by Olivia Newton John – 

After You’re Gone by Iris Dement – 

Love, Me by Collin Raye – 

Sing Me To Heaven by Bradley Walker – 

The Last Leaf by Blackmore’s Night – 

Last Leaf by Tom Waits – 

Last Leaf by Ok Go – 

Last Leaf On The Tree poem spoken by Dr. James Dobson – 

 

A Daughter’s Gift

 

Part three of three poems I wrote many moons ago. If you missed part one or part two here they are :  A Mother’s Gift     A Father’s Gift

A Daughter’s Gift

I am too small to  speak

And I am still oh so weak

I don’t understand what you are saying

I will try to figure It out while I am playing

Don’t know what it is, but I’m missing something

From what you say daddy, she’s in Heaven with wings

I know I cry and I pout

But daddy, I am just trying to figure out

How someone could be taken away

Without me hearing one word she would say

I can hear the care and love in your voice

Even when I am making all this noise

You don’t know this but I hear you cry

When you think you are alone, I hear you ask why

Just promise me you will love me no matter what

And I’ll try to remember things I already forgot

If I remember right, mommy left so I could live

I won’t let you or her down , that’s the gift I give

You Should Be Here by Cole Swindell – 

Heaven’s Garden by Kieran Brennan and  Paul Kealy – 

If You Could See Me Now by The Script – 

Best Seat In The House by Locash Cowboys –  

I Still Miss You by Hawk Nelson – 

I Miss You by NllU – 

Go On Without Me by Brett Eldredge – 

With Hope by Steven Curtis Chapman –