September 16, 2014; 7:15 pm

Nathan: Mom, can I call Poppa? I want to tell him how we discovered I am allergic to dirt.

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It sounds crazy, but Nathan was speaking the truth. Earlier that day he had gone through some extensive allergy testing. One of the things the allergist reported was that my almost thirteen year old son was allergic to nearly all grasses and weeds. “Just to be safe, he should probably stay out of the dirt as well,” she said, winking at me and my son.

Now I looked up from my seat in the rocker, where I sat feeding the last bottle of the day to our new foster baby. I smiled at Nathan. “Yes, you can give him a call. I’m sure Poppa would love to hear all about your allergy testing. But here … use my cell phone instead of the house phone to make the call.”

Minutes later, I heard Nathan giggling into the phone as he relayed the funny results of his allergy tests to his grandfather.

It wasn’t long before Nathan came walking out, my cell phone in hand. “Mama, Poppa says he wants to talk to you now.”

I took the phone and said, “Hi, Dad! What’s going on with you tonight?”

“Not much. Just talking to you on the phone.” His reply was something of a familiar routine Dad and I went through at the beginning of our near daily phone calls. It might seem like nothing more than a silly little tradition, but there was something comforting to me about our habitual custom.

I smiled. “Same here, Dad. Same here.”

“Look, Paige … I told Nathan I wanted to talk to you mainly because I wanted to go ahead and wish you a happy birthday tonight. I know your birthday isn’t until tomorrow, but I think I might be too busy to call you then. I figured you wouldn’t mind me saying it a day early.”

I laughed. “Not at all! Just spreads the birthday celebration out a little longer. Besides, it always better to be early with birthday wishes instead of late because you forgot.”

Now it was my dad’s turn to laugh. “No, I didn’t forget. I remember all about the day you were born. Now, remind me … how long has that been? Forty-two years?”

“Alright, Dad,” I huffed, pretending to be put out with him. “I don’t see any need for us to establish exactly how many years ago I was born. Let’s just say I turned another year older and leave it at that.”

“Okay,” he agreed, the teasing tone still there. “Just as long as you know that you probably won’t get another birthday phone call from me. I’ll be thinking about you tomorrow though. By the way, I assume y’all are still coming up for your grandfather’s birthday celebration this weekend. He’s turning 91 and you are turning … oh, wait,  I forgot. We aren’t talking about how old you are.”

“Yes, we are still coming. But I’m sure I will talk to you before then.”

“Probably so,” Dad replied. “Just not tomorrow. I’ll be too busy.”

“Okay,” I replied. “You’ve convinced me. I won’t expect you to call tomorrow. But I’ll touch base with you before Friday. Love you, Dad.”

“I love you, too, Paige. Good night.”

As I hung up the phone, I had no idea that would be the last conversation I would have with my father.

At 7:15 am the following morning, I received another phone call. This time it was my brother, who was not calling to wish me a happy birthday, but rather to let me know that our father had quietly passed away in his sleep.

My father was right when he suggested he wouldn’t be able to call and wish me a happy birthday.  He was, in fact, too busy.

He was busy meeting Jesus face-to-face. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve done a lot of grieving these past six months. Some days I think all the tears have been cried, only to find out the very next day there buckets more still to fall from my eyes.

But as deep as my sorrow goes, there is an unexpected peace I’ve discovered here in this shadowy valley of grief. I have learned the words of the psalmist are true.

Jesus is near to the broken-hearted. ~Psalm 34:18

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BaptistGirlConfessionThis post is part of the 2015 A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. If you are visiting due to that, thanks so much for popping in to read today’s post. I hope you will leave me a comment so that I can return the visit to your blog. I love to connect with other bloggers and readers. If you are a regular reader, I hope you’ll stick with me during April when I blog about the stories of my faith.

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22 thoughts on “Birthday: A Final Conversation

    1. It was not nearly as difficult as I was anticipating it might be. Perhaps I have relived that entire conversation so many times in the past 6 months that it just flowed out naturally. Every time I share it, I get goosebumps all over my arms and tear up … and yet, this one conversation remains one of my most treasured. I’m sure it will always be that way.

    1. I was afraid I might not be able to tell it at all … but I figured if God put it on my heart, then He would give me the right words for sharing this cherished conversation. Looking back, it really is a gift from God to me and I’m so thankful for that last conversation with my Dad.

    1. So many people can relate and I don’t know that we ever get over the grief … it just sort of subsides and eases a little as times passes. But I don’t think the ache for our loved ones never really goes away.

    1. Amazingly enough, I still have one living grandparent. At the time my dad died six months ago, I had two grandparents living. My father’s father died just about a month ago. I’m so blessed to have known and loved all of my grandparents, and I completely understand all about missing the ones who have already gone on to be with the Lord. Thanks for visiting my blog. 🙂

  1. ❤ Paige , not only do I admire your writing and faith…but your strength ! For him to make sure to talk with you and tell you Happy Birthday before hand shows the love he had for you and that you on his heart and problem the last thought he had , Love you my friend

  2. The Sunday before my mom passed away, she had to be in a wheelchair and carried up to the church auditorium. Going home she said, I will NEVER do that again. She passed away the following Sunday morning 4;30 am, early enough so we had time to attend church, her son (my brother) could still preach that morning, and she would not join us in body.
    What a blessing for your father to call and talk to your son and you on his last day. An awesome memory to cherish for both of you.

    1. It is a blessing to cherish. I love that your brother was able to preach the day your mother passed away. What a gift for you all! Hard to lose a parent, but a joy to know they are with the Lord.

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