The Teddy Bear Hugger is in Heaven

teddy bear
I lost my stepfather to squamous cell lung cancer on September 11, 2006.  It was crushing to my heart to see this once robust man of 76, die from the effects of cigarette smoking.
I recall as if it was yesterday the rage I felt when what we were led to believe was a very small operable tumor, was in fact the tumor the size of a grapefruit. We as those who loved George had thought that the scare of stage 1 lung cancer was all we would have to deal with. We confronted my stepfather, and said that he had to stop smoking. He was one of the blessed ones. He was being given an opportunity to stop smoking before it was too late.
Too late. Well, it turned out that it was too late. The palliative care oncologist even after dad had exhausting radiation treatments, told dad to put his affairs in order. He would be dead in three months.
Too late for hope. Too late to change the devastating and cruel course of his impending death.
I remember feeling so helpless as I saw my stepfather with a heart as wide as tomorrow die a little more each day. Each time I saw him he had lost more weight. I stayed strong for him and his son, Tim, Tim’s wife, Liz, and their children, Matthew, Kathryn, Victoria, Danielle and Kelly. Then, where no one would see but my wife, Karen, I would cry about all the tomorrows I would never have with my dad. Remember all the laughs we had together. Reflect upon all those so many times he would give me those huge teddy bear hugs. No one could give a hug quite like my dad. How I miss those hugs!
As his calcium levels rose the blessing was that he started to lose touch with reality. He went back to the days of his youth, a far happier time than this painful unchangeable death sentence.
The oncologist was bang on in saying dad had three months to live. That last day of sorrow and yet with the comforting assurance that dad’s pain was over, will forever be etched upon my memory.
Tears flow as I remember that last day with my dad. He was given morphine to lessen the pain. He began to drift into unconsciousness as respiration decreased.
In my last moments with this man who had taught me about being a man of integrity, knowing when to fight and when to strategically withdraw, and how to laugh, he held my hand.
Through the torrent of my tears, I said, “I love you, dad. I will miss you so much.”
Then, love’s embrace was over. Dad was dead.
In my faith concept, I know he is in Heaven, where there is no more sorrow, no more pain, only a supernal joy,
,
Kevin Osborne

5 responses to “The Teddy Bear Hugger is in Heaven

  1. Hi Kevin. The story of your step-father is especially pertinent for me as my mother died of cancer only 4 months ago. The increasingly thin and frail body she had month by month till she could do nothing for herself sounds like your own story. Thankfully she too was a Christian. Thanks for sharing that.

    • Hi Chris

      Know that you will be in my prayers as you grieve your mother’s loss. My stepfather actually became a Christian as he made that eleventh hour cry out to God to be saved. I led him in the sinner’s prayer. He held my hand as the final moments of his life ebbed away. My stepbrother, Tim, that would be my stepfather’s son, his wife,Liz, and my wife, Karen,all sang my stepfather into the Kingdom.

      Even as I write these thoughts tears come in my spirit. Yet, with them comes the comforting peace and assurance that I will meet by stepfather in Heaven when my work for my Lord here is done.

      Thanks, Chris, for sharing what must still be a painful memory. If you ever need a person with a listening ear I’m here for you.

      You mentioned on your Linkedin profile that you are training to be a minister. Where are you doing your training and in what denomination?

      Shalom,

      Kevin

    • My prayers go out to you for the loss of your stepfather. Yes, cancer is a cruel disease. It can strike at any age and rob you of your joy for living. My sister, Val, is a breast cancer survivor, but the chemo and radiation have severely damaged her immune system even years after her treatments. The sister that I once knew so full of life and a fighter in adversity will never be again. Cancer has stolen the Val I know and love away from me.

      Not all the cancer treatments were covered by the government. They would retort that they were being fiscally responsible. Those who make such callous decisions I say to them, “How would you explain to your spouse, son or daughter that the drugs they need for their very life won’t be funded?” So, if you are too poor to afford them your loved one dies.

      I find it impossible to be objective when it comes to my sister. I was trained as a journalist to look at stories with an impartial reasoning, to tell both sides. But my sister isn’t a story, nor is your stepfather. They are flesh and blood people with feelings. Feelings that are of no consequence to bean counters devoid of compassion, while the poor resign themselves to see their loved one die a little more each day, to see hope’s promise slip away a little more, the death of a thousand indignities to the mind, body and soul.

      My sister and brother-in-law lost their beautiful home in part because the cancer drugs were just too expensive. Val had exhausted all the clinical trials where chemo medications were covered.

      Her husband got so sick with coronary thrombosis that he almost died. Where was the understanding as they were looked upon with disdane by a welfare caseworker for asking for a few months of temporary help? Get a job. I don’t care that you’re ill, nor do I care about your wife either. What conditions spawn such heartless cruelty? The caseworker would defend and say she didn’t mean it. She was overworked and undervalued. She lashed out with judgment and ill thought comments.

      We are called as Christians to forgive, but we aren’t asked to turn a blind eye to the injustices we see and personally experience. When that caseworker meets her Lord and those who deny people the help they need to cover the cost for their medications how will they explain their actions to a God of justice? How will they seek to justify their actions? I’d really like to be a part of that conversation.

      My sympathies and prayers of support and comfort to you as you grieve the loss of your stepfather.

      Kevin

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