Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Long Goodbye

I apologize to my readers for my long absence from the blogosphere, but March was the worst and most emotionally draining month of my life thus far. With all of the personal difficulties and even tragedies that I have been through over the past few weeks, following the issues surrounding the Southern Baptist Convention has not been a high priority for me.

After almost a month of refusing to eat, my dad, Richard Augustus Sweatman, passed away around 7:15 Monday morning, March 26, at the age of 78. Dad was a private man, so I won't share in such a public forum a lot of details about what happened. Basically, after a couple of incidents where he fell or could not stand up on his own, he simply decided he was ready to go. Despite all of our efforts to get him to change his mind, he would not eat or let anyone take him to the hospital. Over the next couple of weeks Dad told us where his insurance policies and important papers were and that he loved us and was proud of us. While I am thankful that we had plenty of time to say everything we wanted and needed to say (especially since my wife and I live in another state and could visit him only on the weekends), it was difficult watching the strongest man I ever knew gradually waste away by his own choosing. My brother was finally able to get him to the hospital on March 18, but by then it was too late. That Friday he was taken from the hospital to a hospice center, where he peacefully died Monday.

In addition to losing my dad, I had the honor---and the responsibility---of leading his funeral service. In keeping with his wishes, we had a private graveside service with family and a few close friends. Leading that service was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I am glad that I did it. I don't believe that anyone outside of his family could have adequately described my dad. I shared about how Dad was his own man: a quiet man who led by example rather than by words; a private man who even as a young boy preferred to go fishing in the swamps of South Carolina by himself rather than hang around with other kids; a working man who did not retire from his job as a construction foreman at 65 but worked as long as his body let him; a strong man both physically (continuing to work about 2 or 3 hours after his lung collapsed) and especially in his will. I then gave a brief summation of the gospel and closed with the Apostle Paul's words from 1 Cor. 15 about the hope of the resurrection we have through Christ.

Please continue to pray for our family, especially my mom and my sister, who lived at home with Dad. While this has been hard on all of us, they were the ones who took care of him every day.

17 comments:

John Fariss said...

I feel for you, my brother. My own father's demise and death were different, but tragic all the same. It is sobering when the child has to become the parent; and although death may not end relationships, it changes them. As one who has had to say good-by to both parents (for a time at least), I will pray for you and wish you the best in these difficult moments.

GuyMuse said...

Sorry to hear about your loss, but your words are a great tribute to your dad and his life. Sounds like you were one of those "lucky kids" to have had him for a dad. Death has a way of putting into perspective those things that really matter in life. I try to remember that people and the souls of men are infinitely more important that all our SBC issues that seem to detract us to the point of forgetting that Christ didn't die on the cross to win a theological argument, He died to save us from our sins and give us life with Him for eternity.

Paul said...

Tim,

So sorry about your loss. May God hold you up with tender hands and encourage you in the hope of eternal life.

Paul Burleson said...

Tim,

Your honest, heartfelt words are a real tribute to a man that was his own person obviously. You have honored and respected that and nothing could be a greater act of love in my view.

Know that I will be praying for your family and please pass that fact along to them if you would.

Your Kingdom brother,

Paul B.

Bob Cleveland said...

Tim:

Your words honor your father. Expect a fulfilled promise, about that, from your Heavenly Father.

God's blessings be upon you, brother.

Kevin Bussey said...

Tim,

I'm sorry for your loss. I can't imagine what you are going through right now. I will be praying for you and your family.

R. L. Vaughn said...

May God bless and comfort you all.

Debbie said...

Tim: I am so sorry for your loss, it has to be the most difficult thing we have to go through, the loss of a parent. You are in my prayers Tim, sincerely. Thank you for writing this, I needed it for personal reasons today.

David Rogers said...

Tim,

From experience, I know it definitely is hard to lose your father. And your particular experience sounds especially tough.

I pray that during the days ahead you will experience the Father heart of your Heavenly Father, who knows you even better than your earhtly father ever did, in new ways as He wraps His arms of love around you and your family.

art rogers said...

Tim,

I am so sorry to hear about your Dad. I am praying for you. It seems that there must be much, much more going on as well. I'll be praying for all of it.

Art

Gary Snowden said...

Tim,

My heart goes out to you in the loss of your father. I'm glad that you were able to officiate his funeral and do so according to his wishes. May the Lord strengthen you and the family in these days by His matchless grace.

Les Puryear said...

Tim,

My heart weeps with you in the loss of your father. May God heap an extra measure of grace on you and your family.

Les

Alan Cross said...

Tim,

I join with the others in telling you how sorry I am for the loss of your father. I can only imagine how difficult that would be. You and your family are in my prayers. God bless you, Tim.

Tim Sweatman said...

I deeply appreciate all of your kind and encouraging comments. In some strange sort of way it hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would be. I attribute this primarily to the many prayers that have been lifted up on our behalf. And it's probable that the fact that we had a month to prepare for Dad's passing helped by spreading out our grieving over a longer period of time.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Tim,

I am sorry I haven't been by for a while. Thanks for sharing about your father's death. Hang in there---we all believe in you and love you.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Lee said...

It will be three years ago this August 31 that my father passed away. He enjoyed 83 years of relatively good health, and had two bypass surgeries that extended his life some 30 years after his first and only heart attack. The last year of his life, he suffered from the effects of kidney failure and cyliac disease, which eventually wore him down. His last visit to the doctor laid out for him a course of treatments which he declined in favor of being placed in hospice care. That was on a Friday. He must have felt able to let go at that point. I had a long phone conversation with him on Sunday afternoon, and on Monday evening he passed away peacefully.

I've only gradually realized that I will never get over it, and that I will only, in time, learn to live with it. So my prayers are with you and your family, and I pray that you, too, will learn to live with something that you will never really get used to, or get over. And there is much comfort in knowing that they are waiting over on the other shore.

Alycelee said...

Tim, I too have been out of the loop blogging. We were in a traffic accident and have been going to physical.
So, I'm sorry I'm just now responding and of course I too will be praying for you and your family.
How good it is to know that God's grace extends to the very depth of our pain. That-I'm certain of and know you too are experiencing.
Agape, Alyce