By Pam Evans,
It was a gift I never thought I’d receive. The gift was peace, and I thank God for it every day. You see, my father, by his own choice, had been estranged from his children for 15 years. I never thought I’d see him again, and I feared I’d forever be stuck holding a big bag of painful emotions.
Then in January 2013 I received a message that my father probably would not live through the night. He’d faced many health issues, and over the years family members would update me.
When I would learn he was ill and in a hospital, I would travel there to pray. I would just sit in my car, pray, and then leave. On this particular night, I gathered up three of my grandchildren and told them we were going to have a prayer circle. We all got into the car, and I drove us to the hospital.
As I parked the car to pray, something felt different. I turned the car off, stepped outside, and said, “Come on, you’re going to meet your great-grandfather.”
We entered the hospital. I ushered the kids into a restroom to shine them up. Then we searched for the Intensive Care Unit.
We found it, but there was a locked double door. A sign said to push the button and wait for personnel. I just stood there, thoughts running through my mind. “What was I doing here? Would I be welcomed? Would I be turned away? What would I say?”
As I stood and contemplated my next move, one of the kids made it for me, pushing the button. A voice came over a speaker. “May I help you?”
“Uh-er-um yes, ma’am. I am here to see my father,” and I gave his name. The lock clicked, and the doors opened automatically. I could feel panic rise as we walked to the nurse’s station.
The nurse at the counter said, “Your father is in room number four, but I would warn you that he is non-responsive, on life support. He is intubated and ventilated, and with many other tubes and machines attached, it is kind of an overwhelming sight.”
We entered his hospital room. There was my father. Suddenly it didn’t feel so many years had separated us. Sitting at his bedside was a gentleman, holding his hand and praying. I did not recognize him. He walked to us, extended his hand, and said, “Hi, I’m Jeff, Bob’s friend.”
I said, “Hi, I’m Pam, his daughter, and these are his great-grandchildren.”
Jeff replied, “Welcome, can we pray?”
Whew, what a warm welcome and a relief! My father was non-responsive, but I still introduced the grandchildren. My 5-year-old grandson took his hand and said, “It will be OK, Papa.”
A nurse entered the room and asked if I realized my father would be seeing Jesus that night. I said I truly believed that is why I was there. God had brought this reunion together. Never before had I gotten out of my car and entered a hospital. Instead I would sadly think about my father leaving this life without reconciliation.
I phoned my husband to let him know where I was and asked if he would come to say his good-byes to my father and take the children home. I wanted to stay with my father and pray. For hours I held his hand, talking about all the years and about forgiveness.
I watched his vitals for about eight hours. They were up and down, and sometimes he didn’t have a blood pressure or a steady heartbeat. But by a little after 2:00 a.m., his vitals had been steady and his blood pressure normal for an hour. He seemed to be improving. Jeff and I were on each side of his bed holding one of his hands and praying.
I suggested to Jeff that because father’s condition was improving, we both go home and sleep a few hours. I would have to get the kids ready for school and would return at 9:00 a.m.
Jeff agreed. I let the nurse know of our plans, and we exchanged phone numbers. As I drove away I began getting lost in thought about spending that time with my father. What a blessing that was!
My cell phone rang at 2:15 a.m., and I fumbled through my handbag to find it. It was Jeff, calling from the hospital with the words, “Your father is gone.”
What? He had just seemed a little better!
In conversations with family members over the following days I learned my father had confided he was trying to find a path to reconciliation with his children. He had said that he just wanted to live long enough to see one of his children again.
Thank you, God, for allowing us the opportunity of spending the time we both so desperately wanted. Thank you for the words of forgiveness and for bringing us peace.