As my dad’s health began to decline in 2008 and my mom became his main caregiver, I would often hear him say to her, “All I know is I love you.” And he sincerely did.
They were perfect characters you might find in a romance novel. Dad was tall, dark, and handsome while mom was petite, blonde, and a blue-eyed babe in my dad’s eyes. He was smitten.
Dad was a resilient man who worked for the Rural Electric Association (REA). He knew how to climb poles like nobody’s business, and his interpersonal skills were out of this world, which got him promoted to the main Public Relations man. Not bad for a guy with an 8th grade education.
His electrocution in 1974 took a lot out of him, but he persevered and lived way longer than all those St. Paul Ramsey Burn Unit doctors predicted he would. He survived 72 hundred volts passing through his body so I’d say he was a walking miracle.
Alzheimer’s and Macular Degeneration are the two opponents that took him down. This is when my mom showed her Wonder Woman strength in her ability to take care of him…for a while anyway. He declined quickly and ended up living in the nursing home. She visited him faithfully every single day. During the first few years, they would still dance the waltz and two step during the live music entertainment out there at the Good Samaritan Society. And through it all, you would hear him saying, “All I know is I love you.”
Mom’s health also began to decline. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, went through the Whipple procedure, and we did not think she was going to make it. I called her grandkids home to say goodbye. Well, her Wonder Woman powers showed up again and she lived 2 ½ more years after that.
I guess it’s not the greatest to be on the operating table for 8 hours when you are her age. Her memory began to fail after that surgery, and she was unable to regain it back. Sadly, she also ended up in the nursing home.
When my dad lost his ability to communicate with others and just sat in his wheel chair with his head hanging down chin to chest, I witnessed a role reversal…it was my mom who started whispering to my dad, “All I know is I love you.” And she sincerely did. She was still smitten.
As time passed and my mom’s mind was worsening, she thought my dad was her dad. In her mind, she was still a young lady and that old man in front of her had to be her dad. Mom would say things like, “I’ll be back later, daddy.” Or…“all I know is I love you, Daddy.” It broke my heart, and yet, it warmed my heart, too, because of her evident love for him.
On August 17, 2013 at 2:00 in the afternoon, I walked down to my mom’s room to get her so she could say good-bye to my dad because he was on his way home. She sat down in a chair next to his bed, and said “Hi Daddy” then began to sing him the song she had always sung…You Are My Sunshine.
About thirteen hours later on August 18, 2013 around 3:00 in the morning, with my forehead pressed softly against my dad’s cheek while I quietly sang “God Be with You ‘til We Meet Again,” this kind, gentle, handsome dad of mine took his last breath and peacefully went home to Jesus. I ever so gently slid my brow to his chest and through my tears I whispered, “All I know is I love you, Dad.”
Here I am, nine years later, and I still say that. Only now I say it to my Heavenly Father. When I am struggling with sadness or celebrating with joy, I lift up my voice to my Heavenly Father and whisper, “All I know is I love you, Lord.” And I sincerely do. I am smitten with my Savior who holds me tight in sadness and celebrates with me in joy and has a love for me bigger than I could ever imagine.
Let’s face it, life can be really hard sometimes. So, to find peace, I place my trust in the One who I know is always there for me (Hebrews 13:5). The One who I know is always faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3). The One who I know is my light in the darkness (John 9:5). The One who I know is MY Sunshine (Habakkuk 3:4).
And when it’s my turn to go home to Heaven, I imagine I’ll run to Jesus, jump in his arms, give him a huge squeeze and say, “All I know is I love you, Lord.” Next, I’ll run to my dad and my mom and my brother for a joyous reunion, then embrace them in a huge family bear hug and hear us all say in unison, “All I know is I love you!”
And, to all of you reading this, know you are loved! Thanks for being here.