Today marks the eleventh anniversary of the death of my Dad. For those who do not know; for as long as I can remember my dad suffered from diabetes. Beginning in the summer before my freshman year of high school, 1991, his body began to rebel and started losing the war against the disease. Over the next several years he lost both legs below the knee, most of his fingers, was on dialysis, and was loosing his eyesight. Diabetes is a slow methodical assassin. It takes its victims out bit by bit. That is how it attacked my dad. We knew he would not be around forever, but when diabetes dealt her final blow it happened so quickly we were all stunned. The monster had been working on his veins, slowly turning them to stone. His heart was attacked and what would have been a moderately severe, but probably treatable heart attack was a death sentence. The rock hard veins and arteries around his heart could not be stinted lest they shatter. Within 24-hours he was gone.
I have been thinking about Dad a lot over the last several months. I have imagined what our debates would have been like during the election, and how, though he probably would not admit it due to the winner being a democrat, he would have been excited to see our nation move forward and elect an African-American. I imagine the look of joy and tears welling up in the corner of his eyes was we announce to the family that we were expecting our first child. I can see him greiving as we lament the loss of the same child. And I can imagine his encouragement as I begin seminary in the fall.
My Dad taught me a great many things during our brief 21 years together. Most important he taught me to to enjoy life. Love those around you. You hold them up when they are hurt, and let yourself be held by them. You may be going through hell, but no matter what, the sun also rises. There is tomorrow, and if there is not, make sure those around you are able to see the sun rise through the clouds of their grief. When we lost Zippy, I took these lessons to heart. In the dark days and months after the miscarriage I, every morning, look to the east and see the sun rise. I give thanks for the gift I was given, not only in the short time with Zippy, but for the life and lessons of George Allen Thornburgh.
Dad, the Orthodox say Memory Eternal when one passes to the next life. Know your Memory is Eteranally with me.
And now, something for you all to see to meet my dad!