I have a father in heaven
Posted: Thursday, June 17, 2010 3:03 pm
The Messenger, June 17, 2010
By members of Obion County Ministerial Association
The day was Sunday, May 28th. The year was 1972. The place, Philadelphia, Pa. The occasion, my father died in my arms as I was administering oxygen to him.
My father was a spiritually devout man. He had returned home from the early morning church service he regularly attended and where he served as an usher. It was 9 a.m. when my younger brother and I were awakened from sleep by our mother. She said, “Go to your father; he needs you.”
I was 19 at the time and my brother, 16. We looked at our father who was lying in bed, gasping for air. I immediately administered oxygen to him from the portable tank that sat by the bed for emergency use, since he had been in poor health for a number of years. I remember his gazing deeply into my eyes that were intensely fixed on his. I experienced an overwhelming sense of helplessness, coupled with a feeling of deep love and peace. Within minutes, my father stopped breathing, despite my efforts to administer life-giving oxygen. Fire rescue squads arrived at our home within minutes and revived my father from his death bed and took him to the local hospital, minutes away from where we lived. My mother and I accompanied my father to the hospital. He had stopped breathing several more times along the way. As my father’s body was carried into the emergency, I remember the doctor taking one look at my dad, whose skin coloring was not blue, and saying, “I think it’s too late to help this one.”
The doctor and nursing staff worked feverishly to revive my father. My mother and I looked on in shock as her husband and my father died.
Confused, bewildered and feeling like my heart had been ripped from my body, at the hour of my father’s death, I remembered, “I have a Father in heaven.”
I recalled it was my father who first taught me to pray the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father, Who art in heaven …”
I recalled it was my father who first taught me that divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood. It was my father who first taught me that God is Father of all. It was my father’s witness of faith and love that revealed to me that I (we) have a Father in heaven, God the Father of all.
In gratitude to God our Father in heaven, we give thanks for our fathers, who – with our mothers — cooperated in God’s plan of salvation to give life and love. May we show our fathers respect and love this Father’s Day. May we remember our fathers who have lost a child through death. May our fathers who have died rest in the joy of God’s kingdom forever. May we, their sons and daughters, honor them always with a spirit of profound love and respect because we have a Father in heaven, God the Father of all!
The Rev. Robert D. Ponticello
Pastor, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
1303 East Reelfoot Ave., Union City