This is the next story about pivotal moments on my own journey to becoming a Spiritual Pro. These stories will appear later this year in a book I am writing called Pivotal Moments.
Ministering to my Dad
It was August 12th 2005, a Friday, one week before my Dad died.
I was doing my evening shift sitting with Dad in his room at the hospice in Weybridge in Surrey. He’d been quite peaceful, and actually enjoying the love and attention he’d been getting from all the staff and his visitors at the hospice.
With my mum, Pam, and dad, Harold, having Christmas lunch at the National Trust Tea Rooms at Runnymede, a few months before he died.
Dad had been admitted to the hospice two weeks earlier because of progressive kidney failure, and we knew he was unlikely to return home. When he arrived, the nurse has said to Mum, my sister and I, “This is where you get to be family again, and let us do the caring.”
I had been to visit Dad every day since he had been admitted. This evening, he was only semi-conscious, and we didn’t have much to say, so as I sat and wrote on my laptop while he dozed.
Then Dad seemed to wake a bit and unusually he was agitated and seemed upset and a bit scared. I asked him what was wrong, and he said he was feeling a little afraid and didn’t know what was going to happen to him.
For most of his adult life, Dad had been a lay Methodist minister and preacher alongside his 49-year career in insurance. Many of my childhood memories are of him collecting ideas for sermons, preparing and delivering sermons. So I had always considered him the minister in the family. He had always been to me the one who was closer to God. I had no great pull to the Methodist faith, my spirituality was much more eclectic, and not specifically Christian. Indeed, I had been quite judgmental of organised religion.
Yet in that moment, I felt inspired to say to him, “Shall we pray together?”
“That’s a good idea,” he said.
“Shall I lead us?” I asked. “Oh, yes please,” he responded.
I wasn’t really sure what to say, and waited for inspiration. Then it came.
“Why don’t you put your future in the hands of God? Imagine Jesus looking after you and being there to meet you, making things safe and peaceful for you. Ask that he take away your fear for you.” I said.
“That’s lovely,” Dad responded.
After a few moments of sitting together in silence, he settled down again and seemed much more peaceful.
“That was nice,” he said.
He drifted off to sleep and I went home, to return the next morning.
The day next Dad was lucid and fun, alert and present, he laughed and was tremendous company. Family came to visit and Dad was at his best.
Sadly, the day after that he lapsed into unconsciousness and died five days later.
Needless to say, that Friday though was one was one of my most intimate moments with my father, a precious time and love and closeness, and one in which I took the loving and spiritual lead. I ministered to my father, the minister. The differences in beliefs melted by the love between us. It was like he passed the baton to me, I was able to pick up the mantle of minister in my own way. And praying together seemed to give him a spiritual and energetic boost to have one more lucid, conscious and precious day before he died at the age of 85.
He took his last breath at 4.00pm on the Friday 19th August, with Mum and I holding his hands and stroking his head and telling him that we loved him and he could go now if it was time. And it was his time. To be with him as he transitioned from this life, knowing how loved he was and surrounded by love, was a moment I will always deeply treasure.
Within minutes of him dying, one of the hospice nurses came into the room to comfort us. “He was such a lovely man,” she said, with tears in her eyes. That was my Dad – people who only got to meet him a few times and they loved him. He exuded a love of life, great humour and immense gratitude. He touched people and allowed them to touch him. He expressed his love openly and frequently.
The idea of being a Spiritual Pro wouldn’t be in my consciousness for another nine years, but that final week of my Dad’s life was a real initiation into new chapter of my own lived spirituality.