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Dad With Cancer Tells Kids: “You Are My Best Investments”

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 17, 2024 3:05 am

Dad With Cancer Tells Kids: “You Are My Best Investments”

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 17, 2024 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, storyteller Shiloh Carozza remembers her father in a moving portrait of his love, steadfastness, and faith.

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Start your journey now at The good and the beautiful bring home a love of learning. And we continue with our American stories. And today we're going to hear from Shiloh Carozza, whom I got to know while teaching at Hillsdale College. A couple of years ago, I was there doing a two-week seminar on storytelling.

I've been doing it ever since. And I submitted that every student there had a story, and I was seeking them out, personal, something about their town, their family, whatever. And Shiloh was a bit reluctant to talk, and she looked a little out of it. And I was told she was such a good student, and I was a little worried. And so after the class, I asked her if she wouldn't mind staying. I asked her if everything was okay, and if she wanted to opt out, that was fine too. And she told me that she had just learned that her father was dying.

We talked for a bit, and then I said, well, maybe you'd want to write about that. Well, since then, her dad passed, and here it is. We all know growing up that for most of us, there will come a day when we have to say goodbye to our parents. But nothing can prepare you for the day your father is rushed to the hospital because it looks like he's having a stroke. And nothing can prepare you for the phone call from your mother telling you it's not a stroke, it's a brain tumor. Nothing could have prepared me for the two weeks I spent alone in the house while my dad underwent the first of several surgeries, or for the next two years that we saw him gradually lose his speech and grow quiet as the cancer took over his brain.

There are some memories from those last two years I would rather forget. The words I failed to say when he most needed to hear them. The process of watching the strongest man I knew grow weak and dependent. The moments in which I found myself doing things for him that he did for me when I was little. The sound of the funeral home staff wheeling the body out of the house at 3.30 one night. The feeling of emptiness that came after the funeral ended and everyone went home.

And we were once again left with a quiet house and an empty chair. Maybe someday I'll be glad for those memories, but not now. But thankfully, dad left my family with plenty of good memories from the 19 years I knew him, the 22 years my brother knew him, and the 31 years my mom shared with him. When I look back at all the memories I have, it's hard to pin down one characteristic that explains him or sums up who he was. He was the dad who took us everywhere with him, who would teach us more on a car ride than all our schoolbooks combined. He was the dad who put up with the mosquitoes on our family camping trips because number one, he knew the rest of us liked the outdoors, and number two, he knew there would be s'mores. He was the dad who always paused the movie in the middle of the best scene to analyze the plot out loud with us. He was the dad who consistently quizzed us to see if we remembered who wrote his favorite hymn and canopy before belting it out in church.

And in case you were wondering, it was written by Charles Wesley. He was the dad who stayed up into the early hours of the morning with us, talking about anything we wanted, and still managing to teach us something in the process. He was also the dad who sat us down one day and told us that his time was limited, that the tumor the doctors found would give him two years, possibly less. Dad never cried, unless either someone had died, or unless he found himself overwhelmed by the weight of some profound truth. He was crying when he looked my brother and me in the eyes and told us, you are my best investment. I don't think I grasped what that meant until the funeral when hundreds of people from all walks of life approached me and told me how dad had impacted them.

In fact, I still don't fully grasp what that means. It's like all my life dad was planting seeds in me, and some are still in the process of breaking through the soil, but some of them have blossomed, and I recognize them now as pieces of him. My need to talk using my hands, my intuitive drive to find patterns in the world around me and make sense of details, my tendency to overanalyze just about everything. I could go on naming personality traits ad infinitum, but that isn't the most important thing dad gave me. The most important thing he gave me was the very thing that made me get out of bed the next morning after he died. There is nothing like waking up the next morning and knowing that the world you will wake up to for the rest of your life is one without your father. And that morning, along with many others, the only thing that could make me open my eyes was the knowledge that no matter what had happened, or was still happening, or would happen, God had it all under control.

And that was what dad taught me. But it still hurts. There are plenty of memories that crop up again and again no matter how much I try to think only of the positive.

Because of my dad's forgiveness and faith in Christ, I know where he is now. But that can be hard to remember when the last image burned in your mind is of a body. Death may not be the end, but death is ugly. And for the time, it feels so permanent. For the first year after his death, I realized I kept expecting dad to come back, to hear him pick up on the other end of the phone, to walk downstairs and see him at his desk in the basement.

In some ways, I don't think this will ever go away. I might not expect to find him around the corner, but I keep looking for him, waiting for some kind of reunion. I don't think that's a bad thing, but I won't find that reunion here. Ecclesiastes tells us God has set eternity in our hearts, and I think that ache, that tug that grief causes, is there to remind us that we won't find what we're looking for on this side. What we're ultimately looking for isn't just a reunion with people we've lost. In Psalm 73, the writer prays to God, whom have I in heaven but You?

And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. The best thing about my dad was that he didn't leave me just longing to have him back.

I do want him back, but he helped me see what I really want is so much more. He gave me a picture of God's love as father and maker and friend and however much I want to be with Dad. Being with God someday will be that much better. Several months after his diagnosis, Dad gave a talk at a local church to share his journey with them and challenge them to think about their own lives and how they thought about eternity. To quote him, he ended by telling them this. First Corinthians chapter 2 verse 9 says, No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can conceive what God has prepared for those who love Him.

Do you know what the Apostle Paul is saying? He's saying, You can't see it. You can't hear it. You can't even imagine it.

But God has something even better where He is. Dad, you are now a part of that other side. It still hurts. And I still miss you.

And that isn't going to change. But on the best days, I catch myself thinking how I can't wait to tell you about everything that's happened here since you left. And on the worst days, even then, you're only a few more fathers days away. And you've been listening to Shiloh, Caroza, and what beautiful words. My goodness, there's not a dad listening who wouldn't hope for such eloquence, such beauty from a daughter and such strength and courage.

By the way, what a way to be described. Dad taught us more in a car ride than all the schoolbooks combined. He was the dad who stayed up into the early hours talking to us about anything we wanted.

He's the dad who told us his time was limited. You are my best investments. And our kids are, no matter what the culture's telling you, no matter what anybody's telling you.

Our kids, our children are our best investments. Shiloh Caroza, Hillsdale College's finest, a place where they teach all the beautiful things in life, all the things that matter in life. And my goodness, it's evidenced here in a beautiful piece of writing. Shiloh Caroza's story on our American stories.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-17 04:49:00 / 2024-04-17 04:54:18 / 5

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