For two weeks I have started a blog post only to scrap it. I wanted to write something incredibly funny, and I had a few ideas in mind. Each time I started to write, though, I couldn’t stop thinking about November 2016. It was the worst November I can remember. The pain from my damaged tendons was at its peak. And my dear father-in-law was nearing the end of his life. Sharing a funny story just doesn’t seem right, so I decided to share an excerpt from my book, Hidden with Christ, about my father-in-law. Sometimes getting the pain out is the best way to move on from it.
C. Lloyd Radcliff was my father-in-law, but my first memories of him are as the “old ladies” Sunday School teacher at church. As a youngster, I was a little afraid of him. He was intimidating. Not a big, imposing figure, but he was someone who commanded respect.
I soon learned that he was a much softer man than I thought. My first realization came when I was at the Radcliff home for dinner. Every night, he came home at six p.m. He walked through the door and, before saying a word to anyone, beelined to his wife and gave her a kiss. Maybe he wasn’t so hard after all.
On the day I went to the police station to tell them my story, Doug’s mom watched our two-year-old son. I had told her what was going on, but I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it with Dad. I wasn’t sure how he would react. Men of his generation didn’t talk about such things. But that morning, he was there when I dropped off my son. He gave me a big hug and said, “I love you. I’m proud of you. Anything you need, I will be here for you.” I lost my own dad in 1998, and my father-in-law stepped up and became a father to me, fulfilling his promise.
It was such an honor for me to care for Mr. Radcliff in our home during the last six weeks of his life. As he grew weaker from metastatic lung cancer, we spent a lot of time together. Every morning I would wait at the side of his bed until he was ready to sit up. Then we did our “dance” where I pulled him to standing and rocked side to side, moving to the wheelchair. Every time I would thank him for the dance, and he would respond, “My pleasure.”
There were times during the day when I would check on him, and without fail, he was sitting in his recliner with his Bible opened on his knobby knees. He was a regimented man and always had his regular quiet time, using two different devotionals. But as his time on earth grew shorter, his time in God’s Word grew longer. He was prepared to meet his Savior and left us all quite a legacy.
It’s been 20 years since I lost my dad and 2 years since I lost my father-in-law. Sometimes it feels like yesterday, especially at this time of year. The pain is right there, swelling up, threatening to crash over me in a huge wave, knocking me off my feet. But God brings to mind the good memories of their love, and the waters of my heart become still again. He also reminds me that unlike my earthly fathers, nothing can separate me from his love or his presence. He is always right here with me, calming the storms of my life.
Psalm 107:28-30 (NIV)
28 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.