Saying Goodbye for Now
My Dad, Floyd Flemming, passed away on Nov. 14. I was by his side. Just over 3 months ago I would have said he was the most healthy 88 year old man I knew. He was still very active walking, driving, fishing, and even not long ago playing a few rounds of golf. In mid September he a had a stroke, yet still drove himself to the hospital. After many tests the news came that he had a brain tumor and it was stage four cancer. Two months later he was gone. Although I know the realities of this fragile life it just seemed like he would always be there for me and our family.
Chawn had planned to be in the U.S. in September and when we received the news of Dad's serious health problems we immediately were thinking the same thing. She would change her plans and fly down to Florida to take care of him during this time. I can't tell you how much this has meant to me and my brother. She spent the two months serving him 24 hours a day. Over and over again my Dad shared how much it meant to him to have Chawn by his side during this difficult time. My brother Dean and I were there as much as we could be but it was Chawn that sacrificed all of her time to make my Dad's last days as comfortable as possible. Dad knew all about this since he cared for my Mom and Vonnie before their passing.
I have always known how great a man my Dad was but as the end came near we constantly heard from so many others that he had a positive impact on. Dad loved people. He had a real gift of making everyone he talked to feel like they were the most important person in the world to him. When I hear the term "servant leader" I believe my Dad could be used for the definition. He was a very capable leader but one of the most humble men I have ever known. What people saw in public was the same man we saw at home. As I grow older, I more and more realize (and sometimes don't like to admit) how much my parents have shaped the person I am today. In my case I couldnt have asked for a better role model. He was a committed husband, a loving father/grandfather, and most importantly a man of faith that made serving God his top priority. Needless to say, this had a profound impact on how he lived his daily life.
He was known for going every morning to Panera Bread restaurant for breakfast. Although he enjoyed his cup of hazelnut coffee and a bagel he primarily went to see all of his friends. These were people of all ages and different walks of life. My Dad didn't preach to them but he looked for every opportunity to share his faith in Christ around the breakfast table. His last trip out of the house was to Panera Bread one last time. His body was weak but he was so motivated to go. We transported him in a wheelchair and when we rolled him in, there were almost 20 people waiting to see him. He rose to the occasion and spent one hour sharing with all of them.
Although he didn't want to die yet, he accepted it as God's plan and lived his last days with such grace. He held his positive attitude right to the end. From the nurses to the hospice workers, they all commented on how different my Dad was than most of the others they care for. He always had a good word, a humorous gesture or a testimony about the God he served. My Dad certainly taught me so much about how to live but in his last days he taught how to die. Until my time comes I want to continue to be the servant leader my Dad so clearly demonstrated. I can hear him say "Love your family, love others, love God" Goodbye Dad, see you soon. SALT & LIGHT