I have been very emotional lately-- With our oldest being in Ecuador and worrying about her safety, Kenzie graduating from High School (YAY!!), TK getting ready to get his drivers license…
There are times in my life when I think about Keith, my late husband, more than others. I love Mark, and I love my family, but that doesn't mean my mind and heart don't take me back…through all of the big events that Keith has missed in his kids lives, and all of the little events that he has missed too. (I like to believe that he hasn't really missed them, but observed them from a distance!)
I pulled out an old journal recently and the entry seems appropriate to share today - Father's Day.
A little background before I start… at the time I wrote this, Keith was in the end stages of his life, and in and out of reality. He was barely aware of his surroundings, and there were very few times that he was alert at all. That's what made this morning such an amazing one, and the words that came from his mouth and heart the greatest blessing.
June 6, 2001
Keith awoke this morning looking so alert and "alive." After I got the girls off to school I went in to sit with him - in the midst of the unreal; we are in a half built cabin- raccoons are all over. He thinks they are under the bed and in the walls and wants to figure out how to get them out. The reality leaps out through the cracks of the cabin at me. He misses his Dad. He cries. He doesn't want the kids to use his death as an excuse for failure in their lives. He said that he was going to write a letter to them, telling them that. I told him he should do it right then and that I would help him. I went and got a pen and some paper and he began to speak what was in his heart - things he wanted to make sure his kids knew. With such clarity he spoke. I haven't heard him talk like that in so long.
(This is what he dictated to me word for word without stopping. I still have the sheets of notebook paper with the words scribbled as quickly as he spoke them…)
- Don't use not having a Dad as an excuse for failing - in fact, don't use anything as an excuse for failing.
- If anything use my death as a reason to succeed.
- I'm proud of you and always will be.
- I want your life to stand for something, but don't hold on too tightly to anything.
- Be a giver, not a taker. Be a lover, not a hater. Be a worker, not a watcher.
- Put God first and everything else will fall into place.
- Love your mother -- really love.
- Don't even think about the opposite sex until you are 21. (A little smile crossed his face when he said this...)
- God is there - especially when it seems like He isn't.
- Make the choices in your life based on scripture and advise from wise elders who have been through it.
- Always tell the truth. You'll never go wrong.
- Hold everything up against the light of Scripture to see if it is true and valid.
- Don't say you love someone until you really know what love means.
- Use the Bible as an instruction book for life.
- Take Uncle Dan with a grain of salt.
- When given the chance, always be a servant.
- Love your family-- they may be your last stronghold. When all else fails, your family will still be there.
- Live simply.
- Honor others, but don't copy them. Be your own person.
- Don't be afraid to make a mistake -- admit it, fix it if you can, and learn from it.
- Have lots of friends, but a few good ones.
- Be the kind of friend that you would want to have.
- Enjoy life while you can, the way you can, because you never know … (He told me to write dot -dot- dot)
- Be and do the best you can in life.
- Be willing to sacrifice for a friend… you are not the most important person in the world.
- Don't just say you love someone- show them through your actions and your choices.
(Back to my journal entry…)
Quickly we are back in the half built cabin. It does feel like we are in the middle of something unfinished - but what is it? Is it life or is it death?
This was one of the greatest, most moving moments of my life. I just couldn't keep it to myself any longer. I hope that you follow Keith's advice from above... Enjoy life while you can,
the way you can,
because you never know...
the way you can,
because you never know...
Keith Edward Houghton went to be with Jesus on June 28th, 2001. He left behind 4 kids, Jessie-13, Hannah-10, McKenzie-7, and Tanner-5 ... and the prayer that still lingers on my lips today, that they will all seek to know and walk with God.