The Most Important Lesson I Learned from My Dying Father

An Important Daily Choice

2002-07-09 11.30.04

My Dad was dying with a terminal illness. My wife had been diagnosed with third-stage ovarian cancer. I felt stretched trying to take care of my wife and spend time with my Dad, who was in his final days on earth.

We only lived three hours away, but it was still hard to manage leaving Pam alone to go and visit my father. I wanted to be with both of them, but couldn’t be in both places at once.

One day when I went to see my Dad, I sat next to him and we talked. I said, “Dad, I’m really sorry I can’t visit you as often as I want.” I started to cry. He grabbed my hand and looked at me. Then he said something to me that I will never forget which I hold onto even today. He said, “Rick, it’s okay. Your wife is your priority. Pam is who you need to spend time with. She needs you more than I do. We’ve had a good life together. And we will see each other again.” He smiled at me and I cried again.

My father gave me permission that day, or should I say, he allowed me to let go of him so I might focus on my wife.

Both Dad and Pam died – 18 months apart. But the lesson from my dad continues to help me make important decisions each day. Choosing my wife first – including my new wife, Erica.

My Dad always chose his wife, my mom, first. I hope that – after choosing God – my wife will always be my next priority.

Thanks, Dad, for the reminder.

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