This is an article written by Father Michael Birdsong. It was posted on http://www.midsouthdiocese.org/ as well as sent out by email. This article is posted by request of the author who is a regular contributor on this blog. JZ Holloway
For sometime now I have wanted to just sit myself down and think of how faithful the Father is to perform his promises especially in the lives my biological father and myself. We would, as you could say, did not have the greatest relationship; nor did he with his own father. In my early youth I could not understand how someone could not attempt to see their child. Yet now I can understand that he was feeling guilty for his own failures in life.
In my youth I heard many times that “God is faithful” and had prophesies spoken over me that, one day, I would lead my biological father to the Lord. So, as I entered the ministry, I thought that I had “arrived” and the time had come to “win him to the Lord.” So, I set out for North Carolina to do just that – only to return home to Alabama with my tail between my legs wondering if, indeed, he would ever accept the Lord. I wondered if my dad would ever do what I wanted him to do– that is, just love me.
Then, sometime ago, the Father spoke to me, as well my step-father, to just be the love of Christ to him and to release him to the Father. During that time, I became more aware of what the Father had already blessed me with: a loving husband for my mother and a step-father for me that loved me like I was his own. In fact, I began to love him more and more each day but my step-dad never let me forget that one day I would see the salvation of my biological father and would reconcile with him. I did not know how or when.
After my marriage and two children, I began to wonder again and say to myself, “My father has two grand children and has only seen them three times in fourteen years. Why?” But it was not for me to wonder why. “God is faithful,” I reminded myself.
Two years ago, my father became ill and was in and out of the hospital. For most of that time he basically became helpless. Birmingham. I knew by this that the situation was critical. The next morning my son and I set out for the trip. On the way I would think about the promise that the Father had given me and that the promise was not going to happen. I imagined that I would have to fight all the memories of what I called “wasted time.”. I was a mess. It was at that time my son put his hand on mine and said, “Daddy the Lord told me that your Dad will not make it through the night, but he also said it would be OK.” Needless to say, I had to repent. March the 9, 2008 ,I received a call from my uncle that Dad was in grave condition and had been transported from Huntsville, AL to
I arrived at the ICU after visiting hours, but wearing clerics. The head nurse asked if I needed to see someone. “I need to see Michael Birdsong.” She asked who I was and I replied, “Michael Birdsong Jr.” Her face went pale and she began to say to me that I may not like what I was about to see. She shared that he had two heart attacks that morning and was on a respirator. When I arrived at the room, my son with me, it was just as I expected.
The Lord just said, “Be a son.” I took his hand and said, “Daddy I’m here.” As much as one can smile with a tube in their throat, his smile was there and he became conscious. The nurse asked, “What did you do?” I told her that I just said, “Daddy I’m here.” She began to explain how he had been unconscious all day. For the next three hours my son and I were with him, just being sons. After I was gently told it was time to go, I stood and was able to hear him whisper for the first time in many years, “I love you.” Afterwards he grasped my purple stole three times as I was trying to leave. Finally, I asked, “Are you trying to tell me that you repent of all your sins?” He nodded his head and tried to speak the word, “Yes.” I was able to pray for him, bless him, and give him the absolution of the Father. That night at , Dad went to be with the Lord.
While it is always a sad time to lose someone, it was one of the best of my life as I got to see and learn many things:
- My son was able to see me honor my father.
- My own relationship with my son was strengthened during this time.
- I learned to be, “a son.”
It became a revelation to me that sometimes we as priests and deacons try so hard to be “all to all” that we forget to be sons to our . had ordained this time for me to be with my Dad. My father responded when I, with a loving and true heart, said, “Daddy I’m here.” Let us all learn to be a son.
Father Mike Birdsong is a Priest-in-Residence at The Cathedral of St. Michael and All Angels, Thomaston, GA