a song in his head

My father was older than my mother and had been a diabetic for almost 50 years. We all assumed that my mother would outlive him, but her cancer changed all that. When my mother passed away my father was devastated. She had catered to his needs, and they did everything together. Simply put, he was lost without her.

However, he did his best to carry on. He became more outgoing and congenial. I consider that time I had with my dad after my mother was gone as a gift. I got to know him better, as did my husband and children, and we made some special memories together.

Then, a mere five months after Mama died, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. It astonished us all, and I think it frightened him terribly. He had seen my mother suffer and feared that for himself. Yet he bravely began radiation treatments and tried to make the best of things. But complications piled one on top of another. His glucose levels, which were always regulated well with medication, began to vary wildly. His mind would drift right before our eyes. Still, his optimism and hope remained.

One day when he was in the hospital he asked me if I could hear that sound. “I hear it all the time,” he told me. Of course I heard nothing. “Does it scare you?” I asked. ‘No, it is a sweet song,” he replied, “You hear music?” I continued. “Yes, I do,” he answered. The next day I asked him if he still heard it. “Off and on all night long,” he said. “I kept thinking it was someone’s TV or radio, but I think it is just in my head.”

His physical ailments troubled me greatly, but now I was more afraid of him losing his reasoning. The doctors had given him little time to live, and I wanted the days he had left to be filled with happy occasions and good times, not fearful moments and shadows of who he once was. I selfishly wanted my daddy to be daddy, not some stranger who heard noises and couldn’t remember who I was.

Soon after that, daddy left the hospital and went to a nursing facility. His first night there he fell and broke his hip. He was never the same after the surgery that followed and passed away two weeks later. Knowing he was reunited with my mother gave me encouragement in the midst of our loss.

And I knew he wasn’t afraid through his last days. I knew this because that day in the hospital he told me what song he was hearing in his head. Over and over. “It’s a church song,” he had told me. “And it makes me feel safe.”

I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear the Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

4 thoughts on “a song in his head

  1. Thank you for sharing this memory of your father. I cried as I read the last paragraph. Sending you a hug.

  2. Ramona says:

    I love this old hymn. It was sung at my father’s funeral over thirty years ago. You framed this story with such precious moments. Thanks for sharing a tender time with us.

  3. newtreemom says:

    Thank you for sharing these memories. A beautiful hymn for your father and for you. For him to feel safe at such a time was a gift. I pray the words continue to give you comfort, too.

    I will remember the story when I think of or hear that hymn, a favorite from a long time ago when a great-aunt played it over and over on old record player… it amazes me again and again how our lives intersect as we write our slices, and the stories we share give us so much encouragement to tuck away for a time we might need it.

  4. You are so lucky to have had your father share what he heard from his special listening post. Would that we could all be as open to listening – and hearing.

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