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    updated 8.29.11

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Didn’t feel that one coming.

I’ve often mentioned my overall disdain for television. For a hundred reasons, we kind of checked out of TV land about ten years ago, and every time I peak back in, I find a reason to cringe. I’m only saying that to point out the unlikeliness of what’s happened.

I have been binge-watching the canceled CBS series Jericho during the twins’ late night feeding. By bing-watching, I mean four times a week or so, although I will admit to one or two nights of watching a two-fer. Don’t panic, it can’t last forever. They only produced two seasons of the show.

This is especially odd given that about a year ago I watched an episode from season two out of context and immediately pronounced it dumb. Don’t get me wrong – I still don’t think of it as great television. The acting can be bad, but the storyline is intriguing. Essentially, the US is victim of a mass nuclear attack. The plot follows the small, Kansas town of Jericho and how they deal with the aftermath.

All that to say that last night, I watched a scene that hit me far differently than I would have expected. In this particular episode, Johnston Greene, former mayor of the town and patriarch of the Greene family, is shot in a gunfight with a rival town and later dies on a friend’s kitchen table with his two grown sons at his side.

His boys, in their early 30’s, are stereotypical – the good, dull son who stayed in Jericho and the younger, exciting, slightly bad-boy who returned to redeem himself by knowing the ways of war. Together, these three pulled off one of the most touching death scenes I’ve ever watched. What surpised me, though, was not their emotions – it was my reaction.

My dad died when I was 28 years old. Knowing full well it was coming, I stood at the foot of his bed and watched the heart monitor flat line. I clearly remember telling Kelsey “I’m too young to not have a dad.” Thirteen years later, I still feel that. I miss him every day.

Under normal circumstances, upon seeing this scene, I’d relate to the sons…their emotions, their pain, their loss. Unexpectedly, last night, watching there on the couch with a daughter in arms, I found myself relating to the dying father.

In saying his goodbyes, he grabbed his younger son’s hand and whispered “I was too hard on you. I was…too hard on you, son.” His dying words – the most intentionally chosen of any man’s life – reflected a tenderness and very real pain.

It’s interesting that in this case, almost no one would say “I wish I would have been harder on you. I wish I would have punished you. I wish I would have whipped you into shape.”

“I was too hard on you.” That was his dying emotion…the sum of all feelings regarding his son.

I swallowed hard and relived a few scenes of my own in my head.

We’re all living out our death scene, in some respect. Admit it. We’re dying. Now or later, we’re dying. Why would we talk one way now and another later?

I looked at my boys differently this morning. I know what I want to say to them, and I don’t want to wait to say it. It”s far less harsh than it would be if I were going to live in this state forever.

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6 Responses

  1. This is a very emotional post that really has me thinking. But now knowing THAT is going to happen I think I’ll probably stop at episode #3.

  2. Great blog! As a physician, and working full-time in the ICU, I have had the opportunity to be with people on many occasions. I have never had one say, “I wish I would have done one more surgery,” or “I wish I would have had one more trial,” or “I wish I would have worked more overtime.” Actually it is quite the opposite, almost always very sad. Usually the remarks are just like the Jericho mayor (which was one of my wife’s favorite shows…hmmm), I wish I would have spent more time with the things that are important.

    Thanks for your service to the Kingdom. I enjoy getting your Twitter updates and reading your blog. My Dad died 15 years ago, one month before my first child, John, his namesake, was born. There isn’t a day that goes by where I think about him, wonder what he is doing in Heaven today, and hoping I am making him proud. I wrote on my blog a story one time about him. It is at: http://dkovaleski.wordpress.com/2008/05/03/dad/ if you would like to peruse (cool word!) it sometime.
    Your Brother in Christ
    David Kovaleski
    Church At The Gate

  3. I agree, good blog, and it does take you by surprise. I too worked as a nurse in ICU long enough to not take life for granted. But when a few years ago, I was ill with something they couldn’t readily identify, I came face to face with my own mortality. I felt SO bad that I began to secretly think I was dying, and quietly began making preparations. All I could think of was my kids-without a mother, and a husband who would have to raise them alone. Shakes up your priorities, doesn’t it? I agree with you about TV-it’s mostly trash!

  4. Good Post. As a Father of 4…maybe more, I can certainly place myself in the same position.

    I treasure each moment with them, as they are fleeting moments. The hyperactivity, the temper-tantrums, the laughing, crying…all that however, pales in comparison to the opportunity and blessing I have to train and direct these young hearts and minds in the ways of the Lord.

    Good post.

  5. Great perspective Randy. As a father with 2 daughters(ages 8 & 5 it reasonates with me.

    Jason Parks
    Ottawa

  6. Randy, it is funny how the Holy Spirit bring up areas of our heart that He wants to touch using the most unexpected circumstance. Don’t miss the healing opportunity He is offering.

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