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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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They Shall Be Comforted (Rerun)

Posted by admin in December 27th, 2010
Published in Uncategorized

On December 11, 2010, my Dad went to be with the Lord. His time of death is estimated at 6:35 AM (CST) on that Saturday morning, the exact moment that my and Daryl’s airplane was lifting off from the Palanga Airport in Lithuania heading back to the States to see him. He was 77 years old.

I am rerunning this blog post from February of this year in honor of my Dad. But with an important postscript: My Dad made things right with his family before he died. He found peace, love and forgiveness. My sister said his face changed, his spirit sweetened and his words of affirmation were like honey poured forth. He and my Mom experienced true healing in their marriage those final weeks of his life. His last day on earth he couldn’t take his eyes off of her and could only mouth the words, “I love you” to her. We thank God for Dad’s life, his healing and now his perfect renewal. Daryl said that when my Dad looked upon Heaven he said, “Finally, a city that’s built right!” Amen to that.

Mourning isn’t just about loss of life. We can also mourn the loss of a dream, the realization that a situation isn’t going to get any better. I realized lately that I’ve been in a state of mourning—grieving actually over something that simply isn’t going to happen.

We as human beings are pretty much who we will always be by the age of five. I’m basically who I was then—bigger, literate, with more experience, but I’m not that much different from when I was five years old. I still get very impatient waiting in line; I still like to get my own way and I still struggle to keep my finger out of my nose, my nose out of other people’s business and my hands to myself. Yup. Pretty much the same.

Also, I keep hoping and believing with the bright-eyed, unrealistic optimism of a five year old that things will get better in my relationship with my Dad. I have just recently come to see, now nearing 51 years of age, that things with my Dad aren’t gonna get better. I’ve had to die to the dream that my Dad is going to be joyful and loving and affectionate and full of affirmation. My Dad is aging, rapidly. Mini strokes have left him struggling to make connections and unable to care for himself. Sometimes when I visit him he’s clear as a bell. Others, not so much. This is the final chapter of my Dad’s life. He falls frequently so he’s in a wheelchair. He’s angry and frustrated and wants to go home and who can blame him? I see him fading, slipping away and along with him goes the too idealized, warm and fuzzy daddy/daughter relationship I’ve always longed for and yes, craved. This is simply out of the question. There’s no funeral for unfulfilled dreams. Just the harsh emptiness they leave behind when they’ve evaporated. Gone. Done. And then mourning begins.

So, what remains? Well, I have a Dad I can be very proud of. For the most part my Dad was a genius. Glimpses of that still break through on occasion. (He recently named every airplane, gave its year of manufacture and its purpose. Didn’t miss a one simply by looking at their photos). Every Boeing 700 series you get on my Dad designed the air conditioning systems and the emergency inflatable slide (something he designed for the Apollo spacecraft after the Apollo 1 tragedy in 1967). My Dad was a part of the design team for all the Air Force Ones up through Bill Clinton. He was once ranked the most sought after aeronautical engineer in the country in 1969. He could build anything and he did all things with great perfection. He did things with excellence. My Dad was hard working. In all his professional life I knew him to take only one vacation. It was not unusual for him to work 80 to100 hours each week.

I got an email a few years ago from a retired US Navy admiral in Florida wanting to know if I was related to Troy I. Hodges who served in the Korean War. “He was the best damn cartographer I’ve ever worked with!” He wanted to know if Dad was available for a project he was working on off the coast of Florida.

Dad was brilliant. He was tireless. He didn’t hug. He did punch me in the arm occasionally. He never said congratulations, good job or I’m proud of you. He did ask me to always try harder and to not bask in successes but move on to the next thing. He taught me how to tie a knot, ride a horse, wallpaper flawlessly, drive a stick shift, really wash a car, make the perfect sandwich, write left handed without smearing the page. Everything I learned from him I learned to do well. He didn’t tolerate slackers!

But I mourn a warm, fuzzy, cuddly, affectionate teddy bear of a Dad. I wish he and I could have been closer—bonded. I wish he could have been kinder, more affirming, but he did provide for me. He kept lovely roofs over my head and beautiful clothing on my back. He helped me buy my first car and took me on my first flight in a small airplane. (He was a licensed pilot). He also did something incredible—he always financially supported me year-after-year while I was on the foreign mission field. “Teri, you do what you believe God has spoken for you to do and I’ll take care of the rest.” And he did.

Did I get the Dad I always wanted? No. My Dad was distant and harsh and sometimes even violent. He had his own demons to battle. Even now as he sits in the wheelchair at the VA Center, weak and thin, he can still be very intimidating. His mind works more accurately than not. His piercing blue eyes still shine brightly. He still has his Paul Newman good looks and his stubborn personality. Same prejudices, same opinions, same strong will—after all, those are the very things that make him…well…him.

But here’s what I have, this is his legacy to me: God has used my Dad in my life. God has actually spoken through him. Which is a curious thing. My Dad drank, too much at times. He smoked and still sneaks a cig every chance he gets. He cursed like, well like the sailor he truly was. (He was a member of the elite Navy SEALS during the Korean War). But once when I was preparing to move to Moscow something amazing happened. War broke out in the capital city in August 1991. I was holding a ticket in my hand to fly out on August 26th. I was packed. I had a teaching contract. I was ready to go. But the news coverage of this upheaval in the USSR looked ghastly. There were tanks on the streets. The Russian White House was burning. Gorbachev was out. Yeltsin was in. The city was in total chaos and I was scheduled to be there in four days. I was in my room rethinking my suitcase when my Dad came in. He burst through the door and was shouting, “I forbid you to go to Moscow! It’s too dangerous. It’s a battle field there. It’s not necessary for you to take such a risk. You’re not going!”

I didn’t know what to say. I believed with my whole heart I was to go to Moscow. I also believed that as a single woman (I was 31) my Dad was the authority over me. (Too much Bill Gothard? Maybe.) I always tried to obey him or at least comply. I stood there in my room that day conflicted, dumbfounded. So I said, “Okay Dad. I won’t go. But one day you and I will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ. He’s going to ask me, ‘Teri, why didn’t you go to Moscow?’ and I’ll answer, ‘Because Lord, You said I should honor my father. And I did. He told me not to go.’

“What will you say Dad? ‘Cause if you’re gonna make a big decision like this, you’d better be prayed up and know for certain God’s will for my life.”

He started to say something. Then he stopped. And he left the room.

Four hours later my Dad came back in my room. His face was covered with tears. (Quite unusual. I didn’t remember seeing my Dad cry before). He struggled a little to speak. Then he said words I will never forget, “Teri I’ve been praying and I’d rather you die in the center of God’s will than to live safely outside it. You can go to Moscow. I give you my blessing.” And I went.

When I was a little girl my Dad had a supernatural experience with God. He was on the way home from work and God spoke to him. Very clearly God told my Dad to commit our entire family to missions. (My parents never told us this story when we were kids. I heard it from my Mom the day before I left for Moscow). He got home and told my Mom what had happened. That very day God had also spoken the same word to her. The very next Sunday, my parents and we three daughters walked the aisle of our small country Bible Baptist church and my Dad dedicated us as a family to the foreign mission field. Cindy was nine. Denise was eight and I was five. That was Sunday. By Wednesday night Denise had died as a result of inoculations.

My Dad never mentioned it again. It was never talked about and something inside him was forever changed.

So I mourn. I mourn the loss of ever having a warm, cuddly, papa bear of a Dad. I mourn the affirmation and praise only a Dad can give his daughter. I long for the closeness and the comfort only daddies can give to their little girls. But we who follow Christ are not like those without hope. My hope and joy-filled expectation is centered on this one truth: my Dad and I will have a perfect, blessed and wonderful relationship in Heaven! He’ll be whole and new and healed from all of his hurts and frustrations. He’ll be free to love and to receive love. He’ll be shiny, bright and he’ll be everything God intended him to be in the first place. And so will I. So, there it is. And in the meantime I have a Heavenly Father who has promised to meet my every need and lovingly allows me to call Him Abba. Daddy. Peace

5 users Responded In This Post

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462. reny said,
December 28th, 2010 at 8:04 am

Teri,
Thank you for re-posting this, including the update. I was very impacted by the original post and find it just as touching and valuable today. I am sorry for the pain that accompanies this season for you and your family. But rejoicing with you for the hope you now have and for the inspiration you choose to provide to others through your sharing. May God protect and bless you, Daryl, your family, and your ministry, abundantly in this new year.

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463. margaret said,
December 28th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

you are a wonderful daughter!

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464. prgjohnson said,
December 30th, 2010 at 2:29 am

Teri, thanks for sharing your thoughts about your Dad again, as well as the joy of the reconciliation that happened.

I have been hurting for you regarding leaving Lithuania and understand that grief to an extent. To add to that the loss of your dad must indeed be hard. You are in my prayers.

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465. BrianLine said,
January 18th, 2011 at 8:48 am

I just listened to your PERSPECTIVES Lesson 3 – Your Kingdom Come Teri McCarthy Session 1.
God is working in my heart as I seek and grow – He is developing in me a new perspective on God’s working in the worldwide christian movement.
You have been a blessing to me and my wife.
I prayed for you just now. I asked God fill your heart and mind with the comfort and knowledge from the Holy Spirit that you belong to Him and He has a crown loaded with jewels that He will give you – so that you can cast it at His feet in worship. You belong to Him.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Brian

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467. admin said,
February 10th, 2011 at 7:02 am

Dear Brian: Thanks for your kind words and encouragement. I pray too for you and your wife as you seek to know and do God’s will. Please keep me posted on what happens next. In His Peace, Teri

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