All Part of God’s Plan
For the past ten months, since the pandemic started I have sat in prayer every morning praying for my family and friends to all stay healthy and free of this virus. When we reached the month of November, I was so grateful that my family had remained healthy so we all could meet for my nephew’s wedding in Phoenix. My parents, all 8 siblings and families met together in Phoenix. The sunset was beautiful that evening with the desert as a majestic background. We took that opportunity to take a family photo of all eight siblings and our parents. Little did I know, at the time, the significance of that photo and how it would become a treasure for us all.
In late December, well after our time together, my mom tested positive for Covid and then my father also became sick with it. My brother, a doctor in Phoenix, traveled to Nevada to bring my parents back to his house so that he could care for them. As my mother recovered, my father became worse. About a week later, my dad was admitted to the hospital. Our lives became a roller coaster of emotions during the time my father was in the hospital. Thinking he was getting better but realizing there was not much improvement. I spoke to my dad everyday and he never complained. He was always concerned about us and our well-beings, which was so true to his character. As I look back to that time, which seems so long ago, but really was just a few weeks ago, I will cherish those memories of those phone conversations.
As my father’s lungs kept worsening, the need for oxygen increased. He was moved to a new room on a different floor where he received a higher amount of oxygen. Each day my dad’s only wish was to come home. He just wanted to be with my mom and see his family again. Another example of his character and the priorities he placed so dear to his heart. On January 22, the prognosis we had been dreading came true. My dad’s condition was not getting better and his time with us was limited. My dad’s wishes of coming home were fulfilled. My brother arranged for hospice and they transported my dad to my brother’s home on the night of January 23. All his children and most of his grandchildren traveled from near and far to gather together to greet my dad when he came home.
There were times when I prayed and I would get so angry at God because my prayers to keep everyone healthy and virus free were not answered. It was difficult to remain faithful when my Dad was not getting better but I was reminded of the words that Dr. Tony Evans said shortly after the passing of his niece. ” I have seen God work so many times in my life that I know he is there and listening to me.” So even when it doesn’t seem like He is there and listening, He has shown his faithfulness enough times in my life that I know He is. I prayed for my Dad’s suffering to end and for God’s will to be done. But I really dreaded saying that prayer because I knew His will to end my Dad’s suffering may not have the same outcome that I wanted. But what happened in Dad’s last days showed us a faithful God who works according to the plan He has set in our lives.
From the moment my dad came home, there was beauty in every moment. I know that seems hard to believe considering the circumstances but it is so true. God’s plan for my father’s life was on display and the blessings to us all were abundant. When my dad arrived at my brother’s that night, we all surrounded him and he looked on us all with a big smile. He just kept saying with awe on his face, ” Amazing!”. He was truly overjoyed to be home and he was humbled that we all were there for him. He addressed everyone by name and asked for those who were not there. He did not forget any one of his children, grandchildren or great grandchildren.
On Sunday we had a wonderful day with Dad. Each member of the family had the opportunity to talk to him and tell him how much they loved him and the impact he made on their lives. He was coherent and he could reply back. The exchange between Dad and each child or grandchild was a precious moment for everyone. God gave my dad that gift and He provided us all with a lasting memory and gift to help us cope with the imminent loss of our patriarch. It was such a beautiful day. We played our parent’s wedding song, “Memories are made of this” by Dean Martin. He was so happy to hear that song- a smile radiated from his face the whole time. It was absolutely beautiful. We also played other hymns and worship songs like Amazing Grace- my Dad’s favorite. We sang together as a family, held hands surrounding Dad and prayed over him.
Dad asked for the priest from the local Catholic church to come and adminster his Last Rites. When he asked for that, I knew time was not on our side but what a blessing it was for my Dad. Father David came and we allowed him and my mom to be with Dad. We listened from the other room and prayed with them. Dad took Communion and in his normal fashion, spoke to Father David and asked him about his life. As always, he was more concerned about others than himself. When Father David left, he told Dad he would pray for him and Dad replied back that he would pray for Father also. My dad managed to touch every person he met ,even in those final weeks of his life, from Father David to the health care workers at the hospital. Everyone at the hospital loved him and said what a kind man he was. My nephew’s wife shared what one of her friends stated,” If he turned one person to Jesus in his time there then it was all worth it.” It is so true and I can guarantee that Dad managed to do that. His strong faith was a constant light that penetrated through the darkness and I know it helped many people throughout his lifetime to find Jesus.
Sunday was the most beautiful day- from Dad’s laughter and jokes to his endearing words to Mom and his contentment to be with each child and grandchild his wishes were fulfilled. He was able to see and talk to each of us and we were able to have the opportunity to do the same. He so eloquently made us laugh and let us know how proud he was of us. He asked for his favorite white Yankee socks that said ” You are looking at the World’s Biggest Yankee Fan”. He wanted to enjoy some Chocolate custard ( ice cream)- his favorite. We were given the opportunity to give him all of his last wishes. What a blessing for us all. There is no way that I can think of all those things and not know that God was present in every moment. This was all a part of his grand plan. It is so comforting to me to know that Dad’s life ended in such a beautiful and wondrous way.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, ” He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from the beginning to end.”
God’s plan for Dad’s life was made before he was even born. As Dad walked through life, God revealed things in His own timing. We do not see what the results are from His plan ahead of time. We just need to walk by faith and Dad did that so gracefully. He trusted and prayed for blessings to be bestowed upon others. Dad was a father who prayed for his family every night and I truly believe that the blessings we have in our lives are a result of those prayers of goodness.
God’s plan for Dad’s life led him to Mom and an almost 65 year marriage that was a true love story. His plan created eight wonderful children who learned from Dad’s lessons and wisdom. God’s plan led Dad on a strong faith journey that turned many people to Christ. His plan designed a life where he led by example and taught his children and grandchildren to do the same. God’s plan made sure that Dad had a doctor for a son, nurses for a wife and two daughters, a physician’s assistant for a son in-law who would all care for him in the last weeks and days of his life. His plan allowed those loved ones to get Covid before Dad so they could bring him to Phoenix and care for him without the risk of getting sick themselves. God’s plan brought all his children and grandchildren together so they could be with him on his last days. His plan brought a daughter in- law into his life who selflessly opened up her home to him and the whole family during this difficult time. God’s plan allowed Dad to come home from the hospital and live his final days surrounded by family. His plan allowed his wife to lay beside him and have those final loving moments together. God’s plan brought his family together in a final prayer before we saw him leave for the last time. God made everything beautiful in its time. Dad’s life was beautiful. We all can learn a thing or two about his faith, kindness, compassion, honesty and humility.
In my sadness and sorrow, I can’t help but feel joy for God giving my family such a wonderful father. We were truly blessed with a man who walked selflessly and humbly through life. I will miss him for the rest of the days I have here on Earth but I also will be forever grateful for the time I had with him and for the Angel that we have gained. I know he will continue to watch over us and teach us.
One of the greatest gifts that my Dad left us with is the love for family. Family was his first priority. We have always been a close knit family but this past week together has brought us even closer together. That is definitely what he would want. So we will continue his legacy by loving on one another and being there for each other.
So going back to that picture taken in November with the majestic sunset in the Arizona desert – another part of God’s plan. He knew that it would become a meaningful treasure to us. A time we will cherish as we continue this life with our Dad looking over us.
Dedicated to James Anthony Levins – June 11, 1932- January 26, 2021
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