It’s time for the last (but not least) post in my “Family Tribute” series. In the vein of its being almost Mother’s Day, feel free to review Mom’s tribute too!
My dad is an exceptional manager. December 2016 may well have been the ultimate challenge in his management career. Dad was the one who sprang into action and snagged those plane tickets I referenced in Mom’s post. In fact, he snagged them so quickly that he and Mom boarded the plane only a couple of hours after the initial phone call. Riverside found Dad by Ivan’s side as they untangled a baffling web of doctors and lawyers. Dad’s tenure in resort management followed by 20 years of pastoral experience (think TONS of hospital visitations!), provided the ideal skill set for organizing such a logistical nightmare. Speaking of pastoral duties, that’s the other December puzzle Dad had to solve. Even if you’re not a regular church-goer, it’s easy to guess that Christmas is the year’s focal point for every church. There are extra children’s programs. There are extra community outreaches. There’ s the traditional Christmas Eve service. On top of all this, our church offers an early Christmas Morning service (although not all churches do that). My Dad only began caring for Hillside (his and now our church) in Summer 2016, so December 2016 was his first chance to tackle their particular Christmas agenda. And suddenly we needed him 24/7 in Riverside, about 400 miles south of where all the Hillside action was happening. Not ideal.
Since I was unconscious for a while and then woke up with the mental capacity of a toddler, I didn’t analyze how he managed so much multitasking. I know now that he was with us almost all the time at the hospital (so NOT in San Jose), and that he stuck with Ivan through thick and thin when it came to legal and medical affairs. Apparently there were some flights and drives to San Jose so Hillside remained functional, but I don’t really remember times when he was gone. I do remember a lot of phone calls. Most of those probably involved leading Hillside in absentia. While it’s only natural that both those parties regretted an untimely separation during the busiest time of the year, the amount of love and encouragement Dad received to place family above all else – that kind of church support seems almost supernatural.
(Here’s where I offer a GIANT shout out to the incredible Hillside congregation. In case you’re wondering, none of them had ever met me at the time of the accident.)
Unfortunately, a church can be without its pastor for only so long. Dad transitioned back to San Jose while I was still in the rehab hospital, but stayed connected with all my “firsts” through FaceTime, phone calls, and WhatsApp. He made as many personal visits to Riverside as possible. FYI, it’s no small feat to leave a congregation mid-week PLUS prepare a sermon on the go. Poor Dad also lived by himself for five months. Pardon my repetition, but I have no idea how any husband and wife could be apart for so long under that level of stress. Like Mom, he never complained. (Side note – he did develop an uncanny emotional connection with their black cat during that time. We received several cat + Dad selfies that he should be VERY thankful we deleted). Moving on from the bizarre cat relationship though, Dad’s devotion to caring for us meant one final flight to Riverside in May. He flew down specifically to drive our moving truck to San Jose. I cannot begin to imagine how stressful – and stuffy – driving an old truck up the State of California at the beginning of a hot summer must have been. I felt bad enough that Ivan dealt with all my TBI problems alone for 7 hours, but at least we had fun music and reliable air conditioning.
Our transition to San Jose returned Dad’s physical presence to both his ministry at Hillside and his relationship with us. From hanging pictures in our new apartment, to taking me on Friday coffee dates, to making it to every ER trip (as well as my Stanford and Redwood City hospital stays), Dad makes all the difference. I can guess that his undivided attention makes all the difference for our Hillside family, too. From me, Ivan, Mom, and Hillside – any deal with Dad is the best deal ever!