I was sitting through a mandatory meeting about changes in the math curriculum. I kept my eyes on the speaker enough to feign interest. Mostly I stared at my phone’s unresponsive face resting on my lap, mute and slightly mocking. When the speaker broke us into small groups, I offered the most minimum of input.
My dad was lying flat on his Florida bed. He no longer made the effort to relocate to the armchair two feet away where last month he had listened to audio books and taken calls. His walker with its yellow tennis ball feet sat abandoned next to the chair.
At age 95 following a series of strokes, Dad wanted to die and had expressed just that when I last saw him. I had patted his head as if he were a child. My strong father, pilot, sailor, dancer, golfer – now sunken and withdrawn. He had given up the fight.
So we were in a purgatory state, witnessing a slow slide into eternity. Dad was leaving us and there was nothing to be done.
I thought of Psalm 23.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I was driving home from the conference when the phone rang. Dad had passed away Mom reported.
My father had been fond of a particular aviation term for ideal flying conditions. The acronym CAVU (cav’ – oo) stands for “ceiling and visibility unlimited”. Their home had a CAVU flag above it and their kitchen drawers had boxes of pink napkins with CAVU embossed on them.
On that June day in 2004 when my father left this world, George Bush Sr. happened to be jumping out of a plane in honor of his 80th birthday. According to the NY Times, once safely on the ground, Mr. Bush exclaimed, “It’s a CAVU day!”
My mom, a faithful NY Times reader, just smiled through her tears. God was providing assurance that Dad was in heaven – where the ceiling and visibility is unlimited. Clear skies. The house of the Lord. Rod and staff. Eternity.
He would wait for us there. Dancing his heart out.