Happy Birthday, Dad
My father's birthday is today. He died 19 years ago, in 1986, at 51 years of age, of a massive cardiac arrest. But if he had lived, he would have been 70 today.
My father was a Presbyterian minister, and spent his life preaching, teaching and being of service to others. But he suffered a great deal of heartache in his short life, personally and professionally.
Following the drowning accident - on a family outing in 1966 - that claimed my younger sister's life, my father sank into periodic bouts of deep depression. He castigated himself emotionally for having been unable to save his daughter, and withdrew from his other kids, perhaps in an attempt to shield himself from the possibility of another such catastrophic loss. For the rest of his days, he was a walking bundle of pain.
There was another event that exacerbated his condition: for the last 10 years of his life, he suffered under accusations of professional misconduct made against him by a former colleague in whom he'd once had great trust. Although an investigation by the ecclesiastical authorities showed my father blameless of all charges, and eventually exonerated him, the 10 years it took for the matter to be resolved were extremely hard on him. He was formally pronounced clear of all charges just weeks before he died, but the stress of all those years of living under a cloud of suspicion had taken its toll.
I sometimes wonder if he had lived to see the children of his children - my two daughters and their four cousins, and ones perhaps yet to come - whether he might have experienced some healing in his old age, some of what the old hymn speaks of as the Balm In Gilead. On the other hand, if Heaven is as he taught me, he already has his healing.