Love Without End, Amen

Dad and Me

When my sister and I each got married, in 1991 and 1994 respectively, our dad chose the same song for our Father-Daughter dances: George Strait’s “Love Without End, Amen.” It’s a song that he would often sing to us and it perfectly conveyed the bond that we shared with him.

Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love

A secret that my daddy said was just between us

He said, “Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then

It’s a love without end, amen.”

A few days before I got married, I remember Dad standing in front of our living room window, silently staring out at the yard. I stopped in my tracks, seeing him deep in thought, and something told me to take a picture of that moment in my mind. It hit me hard that this would be one of the last times that we would be together in a room like this, just a daddy and his little girl. He turned to look at me and I saw something in his eyes that made me realize he was feeling the same thing. I went to him, put my arms around him and sobbed into his shoulder for a very long time. I missed him so much already.

My dad died this month. It was sudden and unexpected and the loss is so deep and cavernous that it’s difficult to believe we will ever reach the bottom of it. The days since he passed, as my sister so eloquently puts it, have been filled with heartbreaking lows and breathtaking highs. There are many signs that he is close by, comforting us and still walking beside us in a very real way.

In our grief, the love of our close-knit family has been a continual source of strength. When we are all together, we feel Dad with us and it’s impossible not to remember that he was the one who first taught us love and is still teaching us about love from the Other Side. Only in this case, it is a lesson we aren’t quite ready to be taught – how love grows stronger even when one of us is physically absent from our day to day lives.

My mom recently found a letter I’d written to Dad in 1994. I guess he’d been saving it all these years. Part of it reads:

 “I can’t imagine what our family would have been like without you. Our home certainly wouldn’t have been filled with as much laughter and love without such a special man at the centre of it all.

I (have) a difficult time listening to women talking about their fathers in the past tense. I, too, can hardly imagine surviving without knowing you are so nearby. Even now, when we have to go our separate ways, like when I had to catch a bus to return to work after we met for lunch, I still feel a sense of loss. I guess that’s why I felt the need to call you later that same afternoon.

I wish, sometimes, that I would have stayed little forever and we could spend all the time together that we wanted to.”

It’s impossible to sum up what a wonderful father and grandfather we had in Dad. As my sister so aptly says, “We really won the parent lottery with Mom and Dad.” Dad was our hero, our mentor, our compass and our biggest fan. And, just when we thought the love he gave so freely couldn’t get much bigger or better, his enormous capacity to love grew exponentially when he became a grandpa.

So many memories and stories have flooded into and through us this month that it’s difficult to mention only one without adding in at least four or five more. Yet the one that has come up most frequently is a real example of the man our dad was.

After retiring from full-time work, Dad landed his dream job volunteering as a high school football coach. He loved to encourage young talent and nurture the love of the game in others. Every year at training camp, when he was given a group of offensive line or defensive line recruits to work with, he would ask them, “What’s my job?”

Naturally, they’d answer: “coach us” or “teach us how to play football” or “develop plays for us.”

But inevitably, he’d say: “No. My job is to love you. And do you know what your job is?”

Realizing how off-base they were with their initial responses, most players would keep quiet at this point.

“Your job is to love one another and to love yourself,” he’d tell them.

Love was the first thing he taught these young men and it was the main rule he insisted that they live and play by. Now imagine what it was like having this remarkable man as your father and you get an idea of the legacy of love he has left our family.

I miss you so much, Dad, but I love you even more. I am so grateful to have been born into a family that always told one another how much we loved and were loved in return.  Whenever I feel my heart starting to ache with sadness, you still put your arms around me and I am instantly surrounded by your love. And you remind me in your own way that it’s a love without end, amen.

13 thoughts on “Love Without End, Amen

  1. Beautiful, Barb. We will always be Daddy’s Little Girl” even though both of our Daddy’s are in heaven. Even after 17 years, I feel my Dad around me all of the time. My Mom too ❤️❤️❤️

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      1. When my son had his first daughter, he called and my husband said “That’s wonderful, something special about little girls.” Oops. We still laugh about it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, I am sobbing now because you are such a gifted writer and touched my soul. Thank you for sharing this. I love knowing what song you danced to with your dad on that, you know, “special” day. What a lovely sentiment. What more could a daughter ask for from her father?

    What a perfect picture; you are both staring right into each other’s eyes. I wish I had such a picture with my dad. We were great polka partners, but in that type of dance one’s eyes had to be on our surroundings!

    I know because of what you have shared that your father’s favourite movies were the Star Wars series and one of his favourite quotes was from Lama Surya Das, about how to achieve life happiness (because your mom shared that on FB).

    My husband’s father died when my husband was only 16. It happened suddenly in church. He was MC of the Christmas program and had a heart attack. Sadly, he was buried on Christmas Eve day, which is still not a favourite holiday of Bruce’s now. He would have loved to have known what his father’s favourite song, movie or piece of writing might have been. But he was never given that opportunity.

    On October 1st 2013, I was in the Steinbach hospital because my 89-year-old mother-in-law was given hours to live. It was my birthday and my mom’s 75th birthday. When she called me that day, she didn’t wish me a happy birthday like she always did; instead, the first thing she said was “It is lung cancer.” She’d finally found a doctor that would listen to her after being sick and having lost her voice for the entire summer. The doctors were not giving her any concrete diagnosis.

    October 29th marks the 4-year anniversary of the day my dad and I drove Mom to Seven Oaks Hospital. It was the last day she was ever outside in the fresh air. I watched her suffer for 9 weeks. She waited until December 27th to pass and I know because she didn’t want to “ruin our Christmas.”

    This past weekend, we celebrated Thanksgiving with my 93-year-old mother-in-law. I know it sounds selfish, but I wish my mom was here too. When you lose a loved one like a parent, I don’t know which way is “easier”: quickly but in such a shocking way… or slowly and painfully, the way I watched my mom pass.

    What I know for sure (thanks, Oprah!) is that when you lose a LOVING FOUNDATION OF YOUR LIFE it hurts so much. Sometimes it is so scary to truly go there. But, I have felt my mom with me, especially in May when she came to me and actually saved my life. When you believe you are always able to connect it does get a little easier.

    With sympathy, respect, and love,
    Bev

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    1. Bev, thank you for sharing that; I’m sure that was difficult but it means so much to me and I genuinely feel the heartbreak within you. So many times over the years, I was afraid to “truly go there” in thinking about losing my mom or dad. In addition to the letter I posted here that dared to imagine such a terrible time, Dad had written me a 3-page letter in 1997 that talked about when he would die someday and I immediately put it away in a drawer, not wanting to think about it. Two days after he died, he gently prodded me with a reminder of that 20-year old letter. I read it and what a gift it was to us all, ending with “I will die a happy man with love in my heart for all my children.” It’s truly a love without end, amen.

      We have to face many firsts, including the holidays, but somehow, we’ll manage as a family even though we know things will never be the same. Bev, thank you for being here for us, especially for Mom. I look forward to giving you a big hug in person in a couple of weeks. xo

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      1. You did win the lottery with regards to your parents.
        I can not believe the gifts your father gave you and others…
        GOOD reminder….i think i
        need to start writing some letters. If THE FORCE is with me… like that little pun?… my kids and grandkids won’t open it for another 20 years or 30 years. That would be my great wish. Another wish of mine would be to dance at my grandchildrens’ weddings… Especially my granddaughter Bailey. Your parents took that opportunity and that was such a joyous celebration for them. Got to stop need more Kleenex. I look forward to meeting you too Barb XXX

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      2. I think it would be a beautiful idea to write letters for your kids and grandkids. What a Christmas gift to them – sharing how much they were loved and brought to your life.

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  3. Ok…..i
    How do i edit this piece?. I dictated it I was crying and some half of words are mixed up. So maybe either edited or just remove it after you have read it okay. I don’t need the whole world to know what a blubbering idiot I can be.😉

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    1. HI Bev: No worries, I thought it was beautiful but edited it a bit as you requested. If you are still not happy with it, I can take it down – but it means so much to me to have you share from the heart. This too, was a gift. Thank you again.

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  4. The only frame of reference I have for your Dad is from a looooong time ago, but the emotions I associate with him are peace, comfort and laughter. When I came to your home, both of your parents made me feel welcome and special. It is gut-wrenching to lose someone so special, but the love never stops, it just changes. You still have the wisdom and humour he gifted you with and he will always be a comforting presence in your life.
    XO XO XO

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