This is our first Easter without my Dad. Every time we pass one of these milestones, it brings a wave of emotion. I have lots of good memories of Easters with Dad. When I was living at home, we took spring vacations at Easter many years. Dad did a lot of traveling working for Ford and accumulated plenty of frequent flier miles and free hotel stays. We reaped the benefits of that during our annual family vacation.
On Easter 1984, Dad delivered our Sunday sermon in our hotel room in Anaheim, CA. I don't remember exactly what he said, but I do remember that the hotel room overlooked Disney Land, where we spent the rest of that day. That was our first really big family vacation. Mom, my brother and I flew out to Phoenix. Dad left the day before and drove straight through, 36 hours so we wouldn't have to rent a car. We toured the southwest - went down a natural water slide in Flagstaff, saw it snow in the desert, spent the night in Vegas, took an amazing boat ride in Utah, saw the Great White Throne, then ended up in California where we went to Disney Land, swam in the ocean and I threw up at the Olympic Stadium. Dad really knew how to plan a vacation!
Easter 1987 was just after we had been in Hawaii for an incredible 2 weeks. After enjoying the beauty there, visiting "Wacky-key Beach," and "seeing parts of Hawaii the average tourist doesn't see," we flew back early on Sunday morning and showed up jet lagged for the services at our home church. Not having slept at all the night before was not a valid excuse for skipping church in our family!
Several Easters after that we spent in Florida - usually Orlando or St. Pete Beach. I can't remember the name of the church we attended there, but I know we were regulars when we were in town. It didn't matter where we were on Easter (or any Sunday, really), worshiping God still took priority. I'm thankful for a Dad who taught us that the things of God are what matter most.
My recent memories of Easter with my Dad include Easter 2003. Mom, Dad, B and I were having Brunch together after church when we gave them the news that we were expecting our first baby. Then we ate a whole lot of really good food!
The next year we went back to that same place for Easter brunch. There was big news that year as well, but not of the happy sort. We grieved together and comforted each other and then ate a whole lot of really good food again.
By the time Easter 2005 rolled around, J was head over heels in love with Papa. We have some really sweet pictures of them together that day. We had brunch together again after church at that same place for the third and final year.
Easter 2005, before church At Brunch with Papa
Easter 2006 J's first Egg Hunt J and Papa watching the puppet show after the egg hunt
Last Easter turned out to be one month and 2 days before Dad died. It was our last big holiday together. I think it is a fitting one to be the final celebration, because it is the one that gives us the hope of being reunited again one day. Christ's resurrection conquered death for all who trust in Him. My Dad was one of those who did, and because of that, I know I'll see him again.
"But Christ has been raised to life! And He makes us certain that others will also be raised to life because of Christ. Adam brought death to all of us, and Christ will bring life to all of us. But we must each wait our turn. Christ was the first to be raised to life, and His people will be raised to life when He returns...These bodies will die, but the bodies that are raised will live forever...Our dead and decaying bodies will be changed into bodies that won't die or decay...Then the Scriptures will come true, 'Death has lost the battle! Where is it's victory? Where is it's sting?'...But thank God for letting our Lord Jesus Christ give us the victory!"
I Corinthians 15:20, 23, 42, 53-55 (CEV)