I Am My Father’s Daughter…
In the physical world, I told you my dad had hopes & dreams for me & my music; he tied his dream to mine. In the spiritual realm, my Heavenly Father has great plans for my life as well. I would now walk the final ten months with my earthly father (after the death of my mother), & then he too would go home to be with the Lord.
I now pick up where I left off in my story with my father. There were a few differences that he & I did not share musically: the genre we sang, instruments played, where we sang, & actual songwriting. Yet his love for singing, performing, connecting with people & a general love of music coursed through my veins all the same.
My father played guitar & sang country-western music in his band Simply Country; he also enjoyed singing gospel songs from time to time. For the most part, he only performed at bars & nightclubs. He never learned to play any other instruments, nor did he write lyrics, or used recording studios to record any of his music. He never spoke about writing song lyrics; he simply enjoyed singing other artist’s songs, and he captivated the hearts of all who heard him. His only time in a recording studio was when he went to Nashville in the nineties & recorded Kern River & Just Call Me Lonesome.
Me, on the other hand, I sang mostly Contemporary Christian music and played no instruments beyond the few years of piano lessons in my early childhood. I created music through online studios (starting in 2015), & for the most part, sang only in church. There were a few other venues where I sang, but my life of singing never involved the bar scene. In the early nineties, I would find local recording studios & record some of the songs that I sang in church. That remained the extent of my professional music career until 2014.
Due to severe arthritis crippling his hands, he was no longer able to play the guitar. His band Simply Country would be a band of the past, but my father never forgot his performing days. My father loved to tell his grandsons about the good ole days of performing. His best friend & band partner Terry continued to recount to me all the places they would play, & how the people loved to hear my father sing, & how their lives were changed by hearing my father’s music. My dad left a legacy of music to thousands of people during the 25+years that he performed; he also left his legacy to me.
During his celebration of Life party, I used some of the pictures I had of my dad performing and made a music video to the song Leader of the Band by Dan Fogelberg. That is a song I will forever hold near and dear to my heart; that will always be my dad’s song. As I look back on my life and the passion I have always had for singing, I can see now that I wanted to be just like him in so many ways; he indeed was ‘the leader of the band.’
When the oldest grandsons got guitars of their own or started playing the keyboard, my dad’s whole face lit up. He would try to show them on the guitar, some of his former glory days, but arthritis having settled into his hands, he wasn’t able to play all that well. Yet he still had his voice!
Besides his incredible voice that indeed resembled Marty Robbins, my father was a magnificent yodler. I had not heard him for many years, & I was instantly transported back in time to my childhood when he would yodel for me; as I recall, he never would tell me no, when I asked him to yodel. After we gave him his celebration of life party, I begged him to yodel for all of us who attended the party. So, when the dedication part of his party was finished, he sang two songs for everyone. Yodeling was something he did exceptionally well, and in my mind, no one could beat him.
Dad still had COPD, from years of smoking, so he had to have his breathing treatments several times a day. After returning home from the nursing home, dad continued to smoke, so the COPD was always going to be an issue we had to address.
Although my parents were divorced more years than they were married, my father never stopped loving her, and his love remained even after her death. During those three months, when my mom was sick with cancer, she would not allow him to see her. She became skin and bones, had aged twenty years & most times was in quite a bit of pain. It broke his heart not to be able to say good-bye to her while she was still with us.
I tried to explain that we had to honor her request no matter how we felt inside, yet it was still very hard on my dad, due to the love he always carried for her. When I went to pay my final respects & collect her belongings from the nursing home, I allowed my dad to come & say his good-byes to her. She was already gone, & he needed to tell her good-bye, & to have that closure with her. I owed him that much, & the love he carried for her. It was bittersweet, but he needed to be able to say good-bye to her.
With mom gone, I couldn’t stop living; I continued to write & create songs, & I had my daddy back home now. I had to take care of him, my three sons (as well as a step-son), & now my older sister. My sister lived with our mom most of her life, and now we had to move her in with our family. It was very hard on everyone. My sister went from just being her & my mom living a quiet & peaceful life together, to living with a large extended family. Even for me, at times, it can be difficult, as not all are believers in Jesus Christ. Yet, God has taught me (& continues to teach me) to love people where they are & to keep sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Several months after my mom died, his breathing began to get worse again; it was now time to get him back on hospice. Yet, he was still doing very well, & we were so thankful that God allowed us more time with our dad. So we called and went through VITAS Hospice, and they got him right back on care. God was taking care of my dad, as not quite a week after getting him on VITAS, he had a severe relapse. This relapse happened approx eight months after my mom passed away.
I could not get him to wake up, & when he finally did, it was like being back at the beginning stages at the nursing home all over again. He was bedridden, weak, & would hardly eat anything. The day before, he was up, walking around, being his usual self, then we couldn’t get him to wake up. So, we called VITAS, & they had nurses come round the clock for the next 48 hours until the crisis was past. I thank God for VITAS!
To say I was a nervous wreck, was an understatement! Not knowing if he was now going to die too, I tried to start preparing myself for the worst. I had just gone through all of this with my mom and knew some of what I needed to look for, so the shock of it wasn’t as hard; I still wasn’t ready to let my dad go yet. In my mind, it was too soon after losing my mom. Slowly we got him back on his feet, eating & walking as if the episode never happened. We played it off to having caught a flu bug.
About two weeks later, he was down again, making this episode number two. Once again, VITAS came out & gave him round the clock care, and I couldn’t have made it through had it not been for the incredible hospice team that we had. By now, the stress was starting to wear on me. I was praying for his recovery, but I wasn’t living in denial as I had with my mom, as I had just gone through this when I lost her. He had had two episodes within a few short weeks & was on oxygen full time now. I was starting to prepare myself that I could be losing dad very soon.
By episode number three, I could see that a pattern was forming. In-between episodes one & two, he would be fine the day before, then BOOM, we could not wake him up, & he’d be bedridden. He would then slowly recover. These episodes would happen about 2-3 weeks in-between one another. I didn’t know by episode three how many more he would have before it would be THE EPISODE that would take his life.
There was one particular hospice nurse that was on call during one of his episodes, where I KNEW God sent her to me, as she was a firm believer in Jesus Christ. I had always been the one to minister to others like my sister, my sons & through my YouTube channel ministry. Now I found I desperately needed someone to minister to me. She was that person I could open up too. She sat & listened to me & prayed with me. I also shared some of mine & dad’s music with her.
The last six weeks of his life were the hardest on me. I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown, but God held me up. Not knowing when the episodes would occur, & for how long they would last, I felt I needed to put dad back in a nursing home. Dad only wanted to be at home, and this broke my heart, as I thought I was losing control. Yet, God’s timing is always perfect, as my mother had told me.
One thing my dad loved to do when he was able to be up and out of bed, was to sit at my desk & watch his favorite YouTube videos. I would find all his beloved country-western songs, and I created a playlist just for him. Because he also enjoyed my music, I would include several of my songs in his playlist. He would listen to this for hours. During episode number three, when he was able to get out of bed, he sat & was enjoying his playlist. It was also Easter Sunday and I reminded him of what day it was. That one particular hospice nurse (who helped me) was the one who was on call, which came to see my dad for the 2nd time. I will never forget the love & kindness she showed not only him, as her patient, but to my entire family.
Two days later, on April 3, 2018, dad would go home to be with the Lord. That morning, he was barely lucid. He was talking a little bit, but I don’t think he was aware of what was going on. He didn’t appear to be in any pain. I was able to give him his morphine for his breathing, & when I went back to check on him about 30 minutes later, he was gone. All he wanted was to be at home with his family; God held me up to be able to give that to him.
Ten months after God took my mother home, He took my dad home as well. I am so thankful to God that He allowed me 13 more months with my daddy from the time he came home from the nursing home, to when God called him home to his eternal home. He is now united with his only son, who died so many years ago.
With dad’s passing, I knew I had to keep living & that life must go on. I was reminded that even though my earthly father is gone (I will see him again), I am still a daughter to my Eternal Father in Heaven. He still has more work for me to do.
Three days later, I would start on my recently completed album, The Return of the King. I went to a new studio, met a brand new producer, & recorded the 1st song from this new album. This producer was also part of a heavy metal Christian band called Sovereign Cross. When I heard one particular song by his band, I knew that was the song that was to be played at my dad’s memorial. The song is based on Revelation four, & being before the throne of Jesus Christ, worshipping Him.
I could see both my dad & mom now standing there, worshiping God. Gary B Sullivan was the producer I met that day after my father passed away. His previous album with the song Holy Lord is what I fell in love with & I knew it had to be the one played at my dad’s ceremony.
So, I asked Gary’s permission to play Holy Lord at dad’s memorial. I would have been content with just playing their original version for the service. Yet Gary offered to let me do a rendition of his band’s song & to allow my version to be on my new album. I was speechless but gladly accepted the invitation. I would later also record their song Jesus Fill Us, which is also on The Return of the King.
Another six months would pass, and I would meet Danny Childress (lead singer of the Christian heavy metal band DAN), who helped me complete both versions of The Wolf and the Lamb. Danny was essential in helping me complete this album and specifically wrote the song The Return of the King for the album. His collaborative work can be seen in almost every other song that appears on The Return of the King. Even though the album is now finished, Danny and I continue to work together. I would not be here today, were it not for the love and support of both Danny and Gary. My heartfelt love, appreciation, and gratitude will always go out to these 2 brothers in the Lord.
Eventually, two years after mom’s death, & a year after our father’s death, my sister was able to move into an apartment & now lives with a roommate. These life changes have not been easy for any of us, but God as our loving Heavenly Father, did what had to be done, to get us to continue to grow in our faith and walk with Him.
As I reflect on who my dad was and the legacy he left me, I can say without a doubt; he left me so much more than just his music. Yes, the last few weeks of his life were very hard on me emotionally, but that can never outweigh the spiritual lessons he taught me. What will forever remain imprinted upon my heart was how, at every meal, he always bowed his head in prayer to his Heavenly Father. Sometimes as I walk by our kitchen table, I can almost see him sitting there, with his hands folded in prayer, thanking God for whatever meal he was about to eat.
He also lived by very simple faith. He didn’t always understand the weightier things of doctrine, and there were many times he asked me or my sister questions relating to the bible and the Christian faith. Yet, he loved the Lord Jesus Christ, and put simple faith in the fact that Jesus died for all his sins. He knew that he didn’t have to have all the answers to see that he was eternally secure in his salvation.
My father’s simple faith humbles me; it taught me as a Christian, that I don’t always have to have all the answers to walk by the same kind of simple faith. I also miss the unique way he would give me hugs. I could hear and feel his deep love for me as he wrapped his arms around me and squeezed me tightly. He would have such love in his voice, and his eyes would light up when I would reach out to hug him. It’s almost like in his eyes; I have forever remained his little girl.
My story is far from over, but the one thing I can do in memory of my father’s dream, that became mine, is to SING! I still don’t know where all God is taking me on this musical journey; I just know I am to follow wherever He leads.
I want to share Holy Lord with you, that was played at my father’s memorial. This song is on my newly released album, The Return of the King.
I hope after reading my stories of pain & how many of my songs came from that time of grief, you too will see your loved ones standing before the throne saying, Holy Lord!
There are no comments yet, add one below.