MATTHEWS: Goodbye, Dad

The late Jack Matthews is shown in this photo from Stacey Matthews.

When you’re a child, you believe your parents will be around forever. But when you grow up you begin to understand that they won’t be. Once you learn that, you pray that God will push out their last days for as long as possible because the thought of being without them is absolutely unbearable. 

On June 11th, eight days before Father’s Day, He called my dad Jack Matthews home. 

Dad was 77 and had bravely battled kidney disease by way of dialysis for nearly 11 years. 

When he first started dialysis, he was able to drive himself to his treatments, which were three days a week. Over time, the disease and dialysis, and other health ailments took their toll on his body to the point that over the last year, we had to arrange wheelchair transport for him to and from his care center. 

My dad was always fiercely independent and even as he got older and his body was not as strong as it used to be, he never lost his independent streak. Though he’d lost most of his ability to see, had trouble feeling things with his hands, and couldn’t go many places anymore because of the difficulties he had walking, he never hesitated to tell you what was on his mind on any given day and on any given topic. 

Mom and I had customized the house as much as we could for dad, down to having handicap bars added in the bathroom and a having nice ramp installed at the front door. He and mom had a system of doing things to make things less stressful for him, especially on his dialysis treatment days when she had to help get him ready for the five or so hours he would be away. 

But my dad’s life was not always about his health issues. He was a blue-collar worker for decades, providing for his family by working for the railroad, and as a machine mechanic later on in life, and then as a tractor-trailer mechanic before he had to retire. 

He loved to make people laugh and never met a stranger. His family knew this, of course, but after his passing, we were comforted by the number of phone calls and visits from people who knew dad and who said it was always a delight to talk to him because they always learned something new. 

Some of them talked about how they enjoyed listening to my dad talk about the Lord. He loved sharing the gospel with other people and leading them to the Lord. 

What has provided peace of mind to mom and me since his passing is knowing he was a believer and is now in heaven, and can see, walk, run — all the things he could no longer do here. 

On Father’s Day, mom and I went out to one of dad’s favorite spots in Charlotte to begin a new tradition. After saying a special Dad’s Day prayer where I asked God to please let the Father’s Day balloon I was about to release fly so high into the sky that dad would be able to see it, I let go of the balloon and watched it go higher and higher. 

It went so high that at one point I lost sight of it. I thanked God for the answered prayer. 

Dad is in a better place, and we are comforted by that knowledge though like most people we selfishly would have liked to have had more time with him before he went to be with the Lord. 

Though this is goodbye, it is a goodbye for now, because when the Lord decides it’s mom’s time and my time to leave this Earth, we believe we’ll be reunited with dad on the other side. 

Love you, dad-o. 

Media analyst Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection