Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Legacy of Love

"The Lord is the stronghold of my life"
Ps 27:1

On Monday, August 18, my dad went home to be with the Lord.
"We are confident, I say, 
and would prefer to be away from the body 
at HOME 
with the Lord."
2 Cor 5:8

I got to spend his last weekend here with him. Tim kept the kids so I could go help care for him and spend time with him. It was such a blessing.  
The last few weeks were such a gift. I poured out my heart and my love on my dad. I got to tell him everything I have ever wanted to tell him. I praise God for that time. Friday night I let mom sleep and I stayed with him all night. He didn't talk much or open his eyes but he was so sweet. 
One of my greatest fears of losing him was never being able to hear him say, 
"I love you, darlin' ".
(No "g" on darlin)
That is how he said it my entire life.
That was one thing I was terrified of not hearing again.
So, I recorded him saying it on my phone and now I can listen to it whenever I want.
One of his last nights here, I prayed over him as usual. He shocked me when he started praying after I finished. 
Perfectly clear and as if the cancer was gone for a moment

I had already turned to walk away after I said amen when I heard him say.... 
"Be Free". 
I turned back around and said, "what dad?" and he continued praying his prayer...
"Be free to let your light so shine in our lives that we would reflect you to the we press on to live one more day."
I only got to write down part of it because I couldn't find anything to write on in their bedroom except a hospice bandage. I wrote down as much as I could so I would never forget. Every day in the end was a struggle for dad. All he wanted was for God to be glorified through his life. 
I wasn't going to write about any of this on my blog because it feels too sacred and holy to go anywhere except my heart. But I talked to mom about it and she definitely wanted me to write so that God could continue to work through my dad's life. I don't write on here so that people can be entertained or think we have the perfect life... because we don't.
I write so that the power of God through His Word and my testimony can go out into the world.
"And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb

and by their testimony.

And they did not love their lives so much
that they were afraid to die."

Rev 12:11
Watching my mom care for my dad was a beautiful thing. Mom is elegant and regal. She is graceful and reminds me of Princess Diana. She was holding dad's hand when he went HOME to be with the Lord. She stayed the course. Their whole marriage she was his helper. He LOVED my mom. He thought she was so beautiful. 

Monday morning, Tim left for work. I started doing school with the boys when he came back home and asked me to come in the other room. I thought he came back home to get his phone. He came back home to tell me my dad died.
I can't describe that feeling. It is pain beyond description. There aren't vocabulary words for hearing that your dad died. Tim held me as I wept. 
He canceled all of his patients for the week and we packed up to go home immediately.
I had to pack dresses to wear to my dad's funeral and burial services. My house was spinning around me as I stood in my closet wondering which black dress to wear. I didn't want to go to his funeral. I couldn't do this... without the Lord.
But I knew God would help me. When Rhett was born, God promised me peace like a river. It was time to start tapping into that promised river.
When we finally got to mom's house, we had to immediately start making arrangements for the services. Mom asked me to write his obituary. I said, "mom, I am not a real writer. I just write on my blog. I don't know how to write an obituary. I can't do anything that actually requires correct grammar!" I did my best and my sister helped finish it... 

Dr. Donald Wesley Kilday, 68, went to be with the Lord Monday, August 18, at his home after a long battle with cancer.

He was a resident of Kingsport, TN. He graduated from Sullivan High School in 1964. Don attended Bridgewater College and University of Tennessee, Memphis, where he earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Don was a pharmacist and an entrepreneur. He had been an executive and Board member with Crown Laboratories, Inc. since 2000, when he co-founded Crown Laboratories in Johnson City, Tn. Previously he worked in sales, marketing, and product development for Med-Derm and Herald Pharmaceutical. He began his career in 1971 when he owned and operated two pharmacies for 12 years.

Don will be remembered for his incredible love and kindness. He became a friend or a father figure to everyone he met. He loved his family and loved to play with his grandchildren. He loved UT football. He was a generous giver. He loved the Gideon ministry and getting God's Word into the world so that people could come to know his personal Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. One of the best experiences of Don’s life was his mission trip to Brazil where he helped build a Church. He thrived on helping people and had a compassionate heart for the hurting. He loved growing tomatoes in the tomato garden and watching the power and mystery of God's creation.

He was a loving husband to Lorene and an amazing father to his two girls who will miss him terribly. He loved his godly parents and his extended family.
If Don's life could be summed up in a verse, it would be this, "compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love." Ps 103:8
Although, we were nowhere near ready to say goodbye, the Lord called him home and we rejoice in the hope that our family will one day be together again.
He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Willie and Pearl Gaby, and his maternal grandparents, “Jack” Haskell and Eula Kilday.

Don is survived by his parents, Harold and Louise Kilday, Kingsport; the love of his life and childhood sweetheart, wife of 47 years Lorene Kilday, Kingsport; his daughter, Stacie and her husband Hanes Torbett, Johnson City; his daughter, Stephanie and her husband Tim Blackiston, Chattanooga; and his 10 grandchildren, Taylor Torbett, Hannah Torbett, Natalie “Allie” Torbett, Jack Torbett, Reece Blackiston, Evan Blackiston, Lake Blackiston, Hope Blackiston, Crew Blackiston, and Rhett Blackiston.
2 of my boys look just like my dad. 
This picture looks identical to Crew...

As my dad got older, he looks EXACTLY like Reece.
Right before dad died, he told Reece... "part of you will always be in me and part of me will always be in you."
It's true.
I am so thankful to have them as reminders of my father.
My dad was FUN.

Like the funnest dad EVER.
I remember when I was little and we would go through a tunnel. He would roll down the window and put his hands on the hood of the car and start banging like there was a wolf on the car. We would scream and laugh and it was the most fun ever. He would wait until my sister and I finally fell asleep to bring down the gifts from Santa. We never busted him no matter how hard we tried.
He taught me how to play ball. It still shocks people when they see me throw or hit a baseball.
My dad taught me that. I am sure he wanted a son but he never once mentioned it or made my sister and I feel like he missed out on anything. We were the joys of his life. He loved us and he demonstrated that love. He sent me texts like this one...

Love must demonstrate itself or it isn't true love. Just as God demonstrated His love by sending His Son to die in our place. God loved us so much that He had to do something.
My dad taught me to DEMONSTRATE love. He taught me how to feel. He taught me how to love.
He was kind and gentle. Traits that don't always come naturally to men. He didn't have to try. It was just his nature. He inherited it from my grandparents. It was WHO HE WAS.
He not only demonstrated his love to me, he demonstrated the character of God to me.

 I hated planning the funeral. Every part of this feels violating. I feel like I have lost so much innocence. I never want to see the "casket showcase" again. The funeral director asked us to pick one out. 
I HATED them all. 
So does the Lord. I am so thankful He didn't leave us stuck in this broken world. He conquered death and made a way for us to be saved from this world and live in fellowship with Him again.
My dad loved God. My dad loved me.
I loved when my nephew said, "Don made me happy and I made him happy."
He really did make us so happy.

He loved Tim like a son. Tim was truly blown away because he never had to impress my dad or strive for his love. There was no performance demanded. That was one of the things about my dad that struck many young men. For once they were just loved without effort.
I remember Tim saying how he could just relax around dad.
Tim knew he was loved.
The last thing Tim said to my dad was, 
"I promise to love and take care of your daughter."
Dad smiled and said, "I know you will".

This was a beautiful day not too long ago when my parents came to Hope's recital.
Dad loved children. Especially toddlers. He really loved Crew. He (like everyone else) was fascinated by his natural athleticism and hand/eye coordination.
They played air hockey together.
Dad would laugh and laugh with him.
So, now what? 
One of my greatest fears is a reality.
I kept telling Tim, "I just don't want to get buried WITH my dad".
I was so scared that the grief would swallow me.
 But, I will tell you with ALL AUTHORITY... 
It isn't.
Peace that passes understanding is real.
The only way I know to describe it is that it feels like an emotional freight train is headed right at me and I am tied to the tracks. And then Jesus Christ HIMSELF comes and sets me free. He takes the pain on Himself in order that I may go free. There is no other explanation. 
He is carrying my burden. 
Taking my heavy yoke and giving me the light one.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  
For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matt 11:28-30

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed GO FREE"
Is 58:6

God is so merciful and compassionate. He is sparing me from more grief than I can withstand.
My dad's parents are both still living.
They are deeply godly. If you have read my blog long, you know how I adore my grandfather.
If my grandfather couldn't remind me anymore of God, he has now lost his one and only son. I have watched his heart break in half. It is TERRIBLE. I watched him hug my dad in his final days and weep while saying "you are the joy of my life". It truly broke my heart thinking of God sending His Son to die in my place. I felt the pain of a father losing his son. It was indescribable grief.

My grandmother has what I call "happy dementia". It has just developed over the last couple of years.
She is hilariously funny.

She is happy all the time. She has lost her short-term memory but gained unspeakable JOY.
When my grandfather asked me to take her to the casket, it was one of the most devastating things I had ever been asked to do. I didn't hesitate for one second. I took her sweet little hand and we walked together to the casket.

Now was time for my grandmother to see the most painful thing of her life.
I watched her look at my father.
I watched the terror and pain enter her eyes.
And then, y'all, I watched the Lord Jesus Christ HIMSELF... 

"He suffered the things we should have suffered. 
He took on Himself the pain that should have been ours."
Is 53:4

"Now may our Lord JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope,  comfort you and strengthen you.."
2 Thess 2:16,17

I miss my dad. 
But I know that he can't come to me but I will go to him!
What a hope!
There is work here for me to complete. A LOT of work. :)
After that is done, I will go be with my dad and others who have gone ahead.
My refuge these days is my home.
My children bring me such joy.
My Church is also a refuge.

It isn't easy for me to be so broken in front of people. It feels very vulnerable but I am learning where to run. There was a sweet guy who sat beside me at Church Sunday. He had a learning disability. When it was time to greet one another, he shook my hand and said, "Do you want a hug?". I said, "I'm sorry. What did you say?". He was so precious and repeated his question... "Do you want a hug?". Talk about vulnerability! 
I said, "YES!!! I DO!!"
And it dawned on me that maybe I was the one with the learning disability. God offers comfort through His people. After the service, I see my dear friend Mary Anna from across the sanctuary. She is waving her hands and starts sprinting toward me. She was weeping and hugging me and saying, "I am so sorry about your daddy". It was one of the most sincerely loving things that has ever happened to me.

"Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them."

Rom 12:9

Now, we fight for my mom. She is also in a battle. I don't want to lose her too. We need her here. She will begin more treatment in September. We are definitely in a Red Sea-type situation. But, God is giving me the faith for it. I am so thankful that faith comes from HIM and not from me. I am not equipped for this type of trial. Yet, God in His compassion is giving me all I need for each day.


I will end with what I shared at my dad's funeral. 
Thankful that I am being sheltered

What an honor to speak as we celebrate my dad's life.
I don't think I ever realized how special my dad was because he was all I knew. 

I thought all dads slept on the kitchen floor with the dog when the dog was sick. 
I thought all dads showered their daughters with gifts. 
I thought all dads were gentle and approachable. 
I thought all dads were FUN and brought powdered doughnuts along...just in case
I thought all dads taught their daughters how to play ball. 
I thought all dads grew roses and picked the prettiest one for his wife. 
I thought all dads were forgiving. 
I thought all dads played ball on the floor with his grandchildren. 
I thought all dads loved God and their family. 
I thought all dads called their daughters just to talk
I thought all dads were gracious and compassionate, slow to get angry and rich in love.

What I came to realize later is that my dad wasn't NORMAL. He isn't like most dads. One of the words that came to my mind about my dad was that he is "tender-hearted". 
So I looked up the word in the Bible and read the definition. It means that you can feel things deeply... in your gut.
 Dad felt things deeply. He loved my mother deeply. He loved me and my sister deeply. He loved his grandchildren DEEPLY. In the last few days of his life, he was in so much pain but when I would walk in with one of the children, his face would immediately turn into a huge smile. 
The love he had for them was stronger than the pain of the cancer. 
"Tender-hearted" seems like it would be a weakness for a man but it was my dads greatest strength. My dad was able to feel things most men can't.
During his last days with cancer, he drove to Chattanooga to watch his grandson pitch in a championship baseball game. He was wheeled to the sidelines to watch Hannah play soccer. The grandchildren were in bed with him and he told them each how much he loved them.
When I was with my dad in ICU, right after he woke up with an incubator and unable to talk. He had to write on a pad of paper to communicate. He wrote a couple things I will never forget. You can see it up on the screen. He wrote.... "where did Mimi go? and TO LIVE IS CHRIST". 
He realized that life boiled down pretty simply.

Helping care for my dad in the final days of his life was one of my greatest joys. He grew so close to the Lord in the last days of his life. One night as I was in the room alone praying for him as he slept. Usually he would just keep sleeping after I prayed. This time was different. As I turned to walk away, he said... "Be free..." I said, "what dad?" I didn't realize he was praying. He said, 
"Be free to let your light so shine before men ...... as we press on to live one more day". I was scrambling around the room frantically looking for something to write his prayer down on because I never wanted to forget it. I knew it was holy. I knew it was sacred. I felt the presence of God in the room.
The greatest thing about dad wasn't his ability to sail through life without problems or temptations. The greatest thing about dad was that love defined his life. He taught us all how to love. He made the world more fun. He never condemned people. He just loved them where they were. He loved me when I was a wayward teenager who thought she knew everything. Just like Jesus did. He saw the best in people. Just like Jesus does. 

He taught me that the love of God can conquer whatever has conquered you. 
That the Lord is stronger than any stronghold in your life. That God is a loving Father that invites us into relationship with Him. A Father who LAVISHES His love on us when we don't deserve it.
As I watched my dad suffer, it reminded me of the pain of childbirth. He had so much pain in his stomach. It felt like watching someone in labor and then it hit me... 
I am watching birth. 
From our viewpoint it is death but 2 Cor 5:4 says our bodies will be SWALLOWED UP BY LIFE. Because my father had trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, his body was not dying but being swallowed up by life
Dad's inner man was being set free.

When I went out to dad's tomato garden because it makes me feel close to him, I started weeping. Then I saw new tomatoes on the vine. What he planted before he died is STILL GROWING. And not only in the tomato garden but everywhere. He invested so much love into the grandchildren and that is an eternal investment that will continue to bear fruit. The last sentence he said to my mom was "I love you so much". That investment will continue to bear fruit for generations.
Tim and I have been so challenged by my dad's life. Because 1 Cor 13 says that at the end of it all, love is what lasts. Dad invested so much love into us and it will continue to grow even now that he has been swallowed up by life.
Dad now knows in full what we know in part.
My dad was capable of this type of love because he was made in the image of God. 

The Bible says God IS LOVE and that God didn't just love us... He SO loved us. Loved us enough that He sent His One and Only Son to die for us. We aren't capable of fabricating love. It has to flow into our lives from God. And there is only one way to be reconciled to God and that is through His Son Jesus Christ. I urge you if you are separated from God to come back to Him. 
"Be reconciled to God."
2 Cor 5:20
His love is stronger than your sin... than your pain... than your addiction. Run to your Father. He desires for you to come. He is gentle and kind... slow to anger... and abounding in love.

I am going to miss my dad desperately until I see him again in heaven. I am so thankful that he taught me how to love and how to feel.
But, that isn't how the verse he wrote ends.
I know that if dad wrote a note now it would say...
"to die is GAIN".

My dad's funeral service could not have been more beautiful. Stacie and I spoke along with grandchildren and many others about how much dad had impacted their lives. I shook hands with HUNDREDS of people who loved my dad. I held it together until about the 10th grown man told me that my dad was their "best friend".
That was who my dad was... a best friend to so many.
A dad to so many.
He personified love.
I am so grateful to be his daughter.

I can't wait to see him again. He will be free of his broken "earth suit" and in his new glorious "heaven suit".
 He was a huge cheerleader to me in ministry.
I know dad continues to cheer me on in the great cloud of witnesses.

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Heb 12:1,2

Like my dad taught me,
"I press on...
toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Phil 3:14

Be Blessed~


Anonymous said...

Praying for you. We're back in Chattanooga. Please let me know if I can help out in any way. Vic

Mom to 3 said...

Thank you so much Stephanie for sharing about your Dad. I am also blessed with a wonderful encouraging Dad, and your post reminds me that I need to thank him more often. May God wrap you and your family in His comfort and love.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this out. Your mom is right. It is such a blessing to read about a godly man who left a powerful legacy. May you and your family be comforted with the Holy Spirit. Erin Lynn

Ashley@The Vanilla Tulip said...

Steph, you have been on my mind and in my prayers…. I just can't even begin to fathom the pain you are feeling. Praying the Lord's peace over you tonight…praying for restful sleep…praying for complete healing for your mama…praying that SHE has a restful nights sleep. You are loved and wish I could just give you a big hug. Praying for you my sweet sister in Christ

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing about your father's life here and his home-going to his new life! It was heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time!!
As I read your posts, I am always loving the music you have attached. Where is your music from?
Thank you for your honesty and open-ness. Your father has left a living and growing legacy through his life and through you!

Kim said...

So beautifully written....rawness with truth! Life is so messy. Praising God with you that your Dad's fight on earth is over and he is in the presence of the Lord. You are so blessed to have such a Godly example. May you continue to feel Gods love around you and your family.