The Faith of my Father

This is father’s day and my birthday………June 21, 2009

It was four years ago tomorrow we got the news “Our Father has Terminal Lung Cancer’. The Doctor said…”We will ‘call it’ stage 3B”…….and he only had a few months to live….like about three.

I can’t express to you how devastating this news was for us….all of us. First of all, we were terribly confused. If anyone could NOT get cancer it would have been our father…….he never smoked….he ate right….he exercised and did all the things right for a body you are suppose to do.

When we heard this news……for me…..it was like being slammed in the face with a bat. I stood there in the dark…….. stunned…… not knowing what was coming next. I felt like I was caught in head lights …… unable to move when the trucks came to plow over me ……and over…..and over…….. and over again.

That night, my father took each one of us alone …….He promised he would fight this thing and he loved us and we each meant the world to him…….and he didn’t know what he would have done without us in his life. He thanked us for giving him courage and he told us what he admired most about us. He told us all how special we are to him and again how much he loves us……….it all came so naturally for him: Streight from his heart. Hearing these words and just knowing how he feels about us is such an incredible gift, for all of us…..a gift that can never be bought. He made us all feel like we where the one that he loved the most……just like he always has.

Have you ever known anyone who makes you feel like you are their favorite person, ever? My father has this wonderful gift of sharing his time…….and making anyone around him feel like he is there for them. I don’t even think he knows he has this gift……….but, we know…….and so do the people that are drawn to him.

He is special.

So, on this father’s day and my birthday……..I can’t tell you how very special it is to share this day with him. and I am SO Thankful God has given us four more years……..and all I ((WE)) will ask of Him is 400 more.

There is nothing wrong with that.
As I think about my father, I have to go back to when I was a little girl…….I thought he could jump over tall buildings with a single bound. I thought he was the strongest, most handsome man ever. I thought he really was superman, and my mother never discouraged the fantasy.

There are so many warm thoughts and memories I cherish of him dancing, singing, playing and just taking time with me that I couldn’t possibly put them all down. But, the one memory that stands out the most in my mind ((today)) is the one that I think will tell you what kind of man my father is….the INTERGRITY he possesses. To me this story shows his true character ……

I was about 16. I had a speeding ticket I had to go to traffic court for and he went along with me…… to help me fight the fine. As we waited in the court room there was a young man standing in front of the judge who was in trouble for something pretty minor…… I can’t even remember what it was now. The young man was visibly shaking…… the judge asked him some questions and then charged him a fine that he could not pay. The judge then gave this young guy jail time because he had NO money………

When my father heard this, he jumped up from his seat…. and said, “What? You’re sending this young kid to jail because he is down on his luck?” The judge asked, “Who are you?” And then she asked the kid, “Do you know this man?” He said, “No”….

My father was told to sit down. He told the court he would not……..he said he couldn’t sit there and listen to the judge send this young man to jail for something so minor and asked how much he owed the court. He also asked if the fine was paid would the young man be free to go. ((I can’t remember the price of the fine now, but, I remember the shaking kid….. I know he was all alone…….and I know he couldn’t believe what he was hearing….)) I remember my father approaching the judge and asking if he could stand with this young man and represent him…..the kid told my father he could not repay him and my father said he didn’t want the money back. I remember my father saying, “I don’t care about the money….I have it and I want to pay your fine. I just don’t see this happening.” He told this kid he wanted him to get into school and make something out of himself and give “it” back to someone else….. when he could.

Now that I think of it……..he was paying it forward…….. way before it was popular.

I remember getting in the car after it was all over and my dad looked at me with this look of “oooohhhh”…..and then he said that he was worried about having enough cash for my fine after paying the young man’s. But, he did…..and I remember thinking “ You’re wonderful. Of course you had enough. I never doubted him for a minute. ” That day…..as I had many times…… I had a sense of real pride that he was my father. I knew he could move mountains, jump over tall buildings and save strangers…..anywhere, anytime, any place.

Now that I am older and things have changed (like him having cancer now) I still find myself in awe over the things he has accomplished…… over the things that he has done…… over the time he gives to each one of us, even when he is sick and does not feel like it, he still gives to us.

My father has a faith that is untouchable:

He carries his cross and never complains.
He goes to the cancer center to visit his team of doctors and calls them coach.
He does what is asked of him and more.
He carries on.
He has fulfilled his promises to his family 10 – fold and still he carries on and moves forward.

THANK GOD!

Now, four years later, our father is still planning his next move. He is planning to build apartments. He is planning on the fall planting of the muscadines. He is planning to go to Europe for his 60th wedding anniversary in four more years. He is planning on meeting his 2nd great grandchild in November.

No one knows what their future holds. No one knows what will happen to the people they love or themselves. No one knows what tomorrow will bring……..but, I think we should all hold on to the FAITH my father has in his tomorrows.

It seems to me, my father’s faith is carrying us all through this journey we are on.

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A Diamond in the Ruff "O"

Ruff-O came to my mom and dad’s house around Halloween last year. She just appeared out of NO where………

Margaret and Reiner said; “Absolutely Not… She is a bad dog and we don’t think she would be good for anything. She should not stay……… at all!”

They where very worried she would hurt one of the children…………Ruffo was worried about being hurt too.


My dad decided right away he like her………He started feeding her cooked ground beef, eggs and milk….He decided she should have a chance. He talked to her……… and they came to an agreement……”If she was good to him and his grand children ~ He would be good to her.”

He asked me to take her to the vet and let him give her a “once over”……….if everything checked out okay…….My dad wanted her to stay.

Dr. Verdin confirmed what some of us already knew………..she was a very sweet dog. He said she will make a wonderful pet…..His advice ~ “If you are good to her, she will be good to you…..” He told me he thought she was an abandoned pup and was just looking for a good home. …….He told me as a pit bull she would set ground rules for the other dogs in the area and then she should settle down…..He told me how the Pit Bull has a very unfair reputation…….they are the gentlest of dogs “IF” people just give them a chance and treat them well.

……….She had her home………….

AND

My father had his first dog ever………that was just his and not one of his kids.

…… Elizabeth named her…………..”Ruffo

Things where a “little” ((okay)) VERY rocky in the beginning……..like with the neighbors…….she would chase the cat, beat up the dogs next door, chase the bike riders that rode past the house, chase walkers, runners and anything she saw that came with in 1000 feet of her new home……….There where many problems! The neighbors next to Margaret’s kept yelling at Reiner, her and their children telling them; “If they didn’t make “her” father do something about that dog they would call the police, call the pound , sue them, and maybe even shoot her.”………The talk for months was how she must go……”She is NO! good………”
………..But, still she stayed…………..some of us liked her and figured she would settle down…….

Then the accident happened………… Some how, Ruffo got locked into the garage and could not get out for more then half a day……..my father searched for her that Friday night and most of the morning Saturday……he couldn’t find her any where and thought she had decided not to stay……… He called her………she didn’t come…..He search and called…..still she did not come……

When he opened the door to the garage, she was so excited about getting out and seeing him she knocked him clear into the air off his feet causing him to hit the ground hard breaking his hip……….((Which is a funny story that I will tell you all about one day.))

Ruffo felt terrible about all of this and really does not like to talk about it much………She stayed with her new master licking his face until she was scolded by him as he laid on the ground and shooed her away……..

Bill III was going to avenge his grandfather just as Rhet Butler did in Gone with the Wind when his daughter fell from her beloved pony and was killed.

Luckily for all of us this was just a fleeting thought of passion and he was quickly discouraged.

It has been almost 9 months now that Ruffo has been part of our family and we all marvel at the way she is with each one of the children.

We marvel at the way she is with our parents and how much she loves my father. If she has her choice between hanging out with the kids or being with her master she always sits with him first.

She loves her new family and these days fits in just fine. She does not chase the dogs away anymore but stands furm that “this” is her home. For the most part, she leaves the cat alone. She does not give the people on the street a second thought ……..She gets very excited when we come over “to see her”…..She plays with the children wonderfully and always gently…….She is afraid of thunder storms and runs into the house for protection. She always seems to have a smile on her face and seems very happy with her life. She listens best to”her’ new mom ……….When I am leaving she tries to get into my car and loves to go for a ride…..She always shows us how to get down the drive way. She pouts when she is scolded but will come out for forgiveness.. …..and a dogie cookie

She knows she is safe…..and has become quite the little jewel ~ A diamond in the Ruff – O”

((and she is quite the drum set to boot.))

Where’s the Chocolate??

It has taken me a long time to accept ~ I have to run to get back into shape……….because let’s face it……the way the economy is going for “us” ((the nation as a whole)) it will be a long time before I can play Karate again.

The acceptance of just liking to run has been hard for me………..actually I hate running. I would much rather go to a really hard and long sparing class………….I remember many Saturday mornings walking of the mat bleeding, hurt and in pain….and someone would say Wow! That was a great class…….. Everyone would nod their heads in agreement and say “YAY!!”

I have been trying to run for quite a long time now……maybe 2 1/2 years …… and my resistance to running has taken it’s toil on me. However, I have decided…… I have to like it………..almost as much as I like chocolate.

Okay……. Not that much.

But, I love to have Ice Cream for dinner.

AND

If I am going to have Ice Cream for dinner, I have to exercise. Right now that exercise has to be running.

So, I have been trying……….I have been drinking my water and eating right……..Well, most of the time. I am trying to take care of myself for many reasons………..The biggest is my father, who has cancer and has survived much longer then the doctors ever imagined he would……….One of the things he contributes his survival to is exercise……….He has always and still does exercise even on his sick days.

AND

CANCER STINKS!! IT REALLY DOES!

Over the past three years, I have struggled with these big issues; I am not as physically fit as I was BFME……..that is……BeFore Mary Elizabeth. It has taken me a long time to accept………I have a long way to go from pre-baby……..to post-baby…………even though she will be 3 next month.

And SO, I have struggled!

I think I am getting there. I think I have convinced myself……….It is okay to be where I am and I am learning to like “the” running and not pout about it “all” so much.

So here I am…………With my “I love exercise Finnell Grin”

………We have a secret……..”We” the Finnell’s and the Advent’s are far from being athletes…..all we do is……”TRY“. We pick a sport we like or in my case right now……. can tolerate and learn to like it. Then, we give it our all. We are not fast…………We persevere…….We work through the humiliation of always being last. We work through the pain of what ever it is that hurts and we just ‘do it’. We put our hearts into it and get the job done.

And

We do it with a Grin……….My sister and I have named it “That Finnell Grin”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So anyway, I have been getting up really early……..I mean really early and getting out there. The sun comes up at six. I have my shoes on. I am ready to go with my phone and my daughter’s I-pod………… I am excited about seeing how long the miles will take me and what my plan of action is for the day…………..I am trying to increase my mileage and cut down on my time.

It is fun right??????

That was until Monday morning……….I was going by my neighbors house……..I should tell you, he has JUST started running again after 1o, 12 maybe he said 15 years…….. I forget………..the most important thing here………. IS………… HE! SMOKES!! He smokes!…………..He just started running and he smokes……..

Okay ya……..Good for him, right?? ~ Maybe he will cut down on his smoking and all that great stuff. He will be healthy AND we all have to start some where. RIGHT??

It was about 7:00 am……..and I had been running for about an hour. He sees me and says, “Why don’t you run with me to the top of the hill?…….It is only a mile. I am just trying to run a mile.”
Being the nice, caring, encouraging person that I am ~ I said, “Okay” I have 10 more minutes……..I can do that.

He says, “Let’s go!”

He takes off……………..He “smokes” me…………..He “smokes” me!! I am way behind……..huffing and puffing and starting to cough like the smoker HE IS……….my asthma is starting to kick in……….. I can’t breath……….I can’t stop coughing.

I can only say………THANK GOD! My phone rang and it was a customer……..I had to stop to answer my cell phone……..out of breath……….I got to tell this guy……….”I am running and that is why I am sooooo out of breath and please forgive me………could you please call my husbands phone and he will be able to help you.” …………..

I didn’t tell this guy………I was losing badly to my neighbor who just started running like 2 days ago and by the way he smokes………….

BUT! there is good news “he” can run a 9………..I said a 9 minute mile…………and he smokes………and he just started running again…….He has gone from doing nothing……..NOTHING!! to running a 10 minute mile….now down to a 9…….and he beat me…… bad!!

Stupid Rick!!

Where’s the chocolate???

Oh! The good news…………..Today ………He has shaved 12 seconds of his time…………..Stupid Rick!