Finding My Answers on Father’s Day
By Janet Morris Grimes –
I often wonder how it went, that last week of his life.
The accident was on a Tuesday morning just outside of Memphis, TN. Daddy was in the passenger seat, taking his seatbelt off for a moment to reach for some books in the back seat. The brakes failed. Going through the windshield, he hit his head on a tractor-trailer parked on the side of the road.
Mom tells me he never woke up. His head shaved and swollen; his broken jaw was wired shut, making him unrecognizable.
My grandmother once shared that she knew they were in trouble when they moved the family to a private waiting room the following day. Her ‘mother instinct’ kicked in before the doctors delivered the news.
November 15, 1967
Cause of death: Severe Cerebral Contusion.
After piecing this together for the past 43 years, I know this part of the story well.
But it leaves a million unanswered questions.
What did he do for his 27th birthday, just a couple of weeks earlier?
What did he preach about for his sermon that last Sunday morning?
What did he say to Mom as he left that morning, and who called to let her know?
As a young girl, I hated the fact that I had no memories of my Daddy. The truth is that to this day, I would still give anything to have known him, to remember his voice, his touch, and the look in his eyes.
But I realized something through the years of this process known as grief; maybe, by having no memories of my own, God was somehow protecting me from the pain.
Because I was a baby, I never received the phone call that changed everything, nor did I suffer through a painful funeral, visit the crash sight, or see my Daddy so broken that he was unrecognizable.
Having no memories might just be a blessing. Because of this, I was free to be an innocent child. A child, who, for as long as I can remember, had only one goal; the goal of getting to heaven.
This week, especially, I have no choice but to think of Daddy in a way that rips my heart open.
It’s what stops me in my tracks the second I hear of someone else’s loss. It’s what draws me to all the other mommies and babies who lose their daddies. It holds me accountable and allows me to treasure the life and family that I’ve been given.
And for all of my unanswered questions, I believe I finally found an answer to my greatest one; the question that kept me awake at night for most of my life.
Dear God, Why couldn’t Daddy have lived?
The answer is on right in front of me, hand-written on his death certificate.
“Severe Cerebral Contusion.”
I fully believe now that God rescued my Daddy on that early Wednesday morning back in 1967.
He saved him by bringing him home, because that was the only way to completely heal him.
By doing this, God protected him from the pain, just like He did for me.
And now I understand what healing is all about.
PRAYER – Dear God, Be with the fatherless on this Father’s Day. Hold them close, and be their Father, just as You have done for me. Heal any broken relationships, and mend the hearts of those who are hurting. Thank you for Fathers, and for choosing us to be your children.
“A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in his holy temple” (Psalm 68:5 NIV).