A Son Never Forgets: 13 Lessons From My Last Conversation With Dad

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(Reposted from 2010, Age 24)
“In the fall of 2003, during football season of my senior year of high school, my dad began to notice a pain in his back. After going in for a scan that revealed a tumor, we discovered that the tumor was cancerous. This news came the day before Thanksgiving, 2003.

Three months later, on february 21, 2004, my eighteenth birthday, dad sat our family down to share the results of the chemotherapy treatment: ineffective–the cancer had gotten worse. Then he told us that apart from God healing him he would die in a few years. Death was imminent.

Those few years ended up being months. Three months later, on May 19, 2004, he died and went to be with Jesus. Two weeks later, I graduated from high school in tears.

There are many stories that can be told–which I intend to tell in time–covering the numerous experiences and lessons learned during and after this time. These 13 lessons (I ran to my computer and wrote them after talking) are everything I remember from my last conversations with my dad.

I went to him hating God, confused and distraught, franticly looking for answers. He was leaving too fast; I wasn’t ready. “What about my little brother and sister”, I thought. “What about money, what about college, what about mom?” When we talked, I asked him one overarching question, with a heart ready to fulfill whatever answer came back. It was a blank check for my life: “Dad, what do you want me to do with my life? Tell me what to do.”

He did not waver: “Please God, and you will please me.” There was, literally, not even a second of thinking before he responded. It was not what I was looking for, nor what I had expected. Nothing about making money, or playing collegiate sports, or fulfilling some ministry dream he had. Just follow God wherever he calls you, period.

I left that conversation wanting and angry; today I rejoice for this gift of freedom and the courage to lose my life in obedience to Christ. He alone, Jesus, is my deepest lasting possession.

My dad’s words are my treasure. It has taken me six years to understand what he said to me in those last days. I trust that I will learn more deeply what he meant as I continue to walk with Jesus, the same Lord and God my father followed. May you be as blessed by these words as I have, and may you know God in such a way–to live and die as a fragrant offering to Jesus.”

13 Lessons From Our Last Conversation

1 A godly man lives to give his life away
2 When Kaori or John (younger siblings) is angry or argues or anything (about what happened), they just want to know that they are special. Don’t argue. Hug them. Love them.
3 It is better to give than to receive. Far better. Learn this, live by it.
4 Deep questions, ask Uncle Harry and Pastor Gary. They know dad’s heart.
5 Love family. More important than all other questions. Just love.
6 I have given dad deep joy as a father just by being his son.
7 I am a man of God, dad told me so. I have his deepest blessing. My heart is his heart.
8 Please God, I will please dad.
9 Obedience is learned through suffering, don’t know why, but somehow it is.
10 Remember heaven.
11 Trust God, he will work things out. It is all about trust.
12 Dad found his peace in Romans. Things working out better. Study hard in Romans. It’s there.
13 I told dad I would make him proud; I will keep my promise.

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