A moment that will never be forgotten!
Today’s photo is a picture of me wheeling my Dad down the aisle for Chris and Michelle’s wedding (son and daughter-in-law) on June 8, 2019. Some know the story of how Dad fought to be at this wedding and has since passed on July 5, 2019. For us as a family, we felt extremely blessed to have Papaw Dave be a part of his grandson’s wedding. That being offered, it likely wasn’t until after the fact that we recognized God’s provision in ordering the venue nearly 9 months prior. I’ll hold those details for a bit later.
Back to the photo, if you look closely, you’ll see that it was a moment in the wedding where I totally lost it as I began to cry nearly uncontrollably. The emotions of the moment simply overwhelmed me. For the few weeks prior, the entire family prayed regularly that Dad would see his grandson’s wedding. At the age of 81, congestive heart failure was ultimately what took Dad’s life; however, his body was tired in many other ways. It’s all a bit of a blur; however, I remember the family being called to the ER the Sunday prior for which Chris Jr and I laid hands on and prayed for Dad. While we never know for certain in moments of God’s presence, I felt confident during our prayer that God reassured me Papa Dave would not miss this day.
Even with this, leading up to the final minutes prior to the wedding as I stood waiting the family’s arrival, I wasn’t sure until the car pulled up that Dad was going to make it. With the wedding scheduled to start and no one answering their cell phones, I began to doubt, feeling we’d come so closely; yet, he was going to miss this moment. Then, the call came, and the car began driving down the driveway approaching the barn. As the family pulled up alongside the barn, we immediately transferred Dad to the wheelchair, and I escorted him down the aisle. As we hit the runner, I became overwhelmed recognizing this was a moment that will never be forgotten!
Yes, the day is all about the Bride and Groom for which Dad would never want to take away. In fact, his being a distraction in the weeks prior to the wedding was something he expressed his concern to Chris Jr and others. As parents, we couldn’t have asked for a better wedding day as we officially welcomed Michelle and her family to unite with our family. Thus, let’s not allow the focus of this writing to take anything away from their magical moment. I know they feel that same about Papaw’s presence and would also attest to this tribute to him.
Shifting back to God’s provision, it wasn’t until after the wedding that many of us in the family saw God’s hand in identifying the venue nearly 9 months prior. Please allow me to explain a bit further. Back in July and August 2018 upon their engagement, Chris and Michelle went through the journey that many engaged couples go through which is the stress of identifying a venue. Researching; then wrestling with things like location, environment, and cost; followed by visits to multiple venues, things got pretty stressful for Chris and Michelle. The perfect spot just wasn’t coming in alignment. Finally, one day Lisa and I mentioned a barn in Greencastle, IN where we grew up that I’d just had a class reunion at the year prior. Shortly following, we were on our way to Greencastle with the bride and groom-to-be. Within minutes of being at the barn, Michelle said “why didn’t you guys mention this place earlier?” Yes, it was clear to all of us that this would be the place of their wedding.
Transitioning back to Papaw Dave and the day of the wedding, it’s important to note that this venue was only 7 minutes from my parents’ house. What we’ve come to realize is that if the wedding had been anywhere else, the family is convinced there would have been no way Dad could have made it. Yes, nearly 9 months prior, God knew about Papaw Dave’s condition and ordered things such that he could be present for the wedding. A wedding which God willing will be the union in marriage for which the legacy of the Arnold name is carried on for generations to come.
The intricacy of God’s planning and provisioning continued up to the minute of his passing on July 5, 2019 at 12:07a midnight. A story for another day; however, the brief version is that Papaw Dave lost his brother in 1952 due to a drunk driver hitting him while on a bicycle in front of their house. There are many details of Bobby’s passing that would burden my Dad throughout his life. The family always knew of Bobby’s passing; however, it wasn’t until days prior to Dad passing that we discovered Bobby’s birthdate. Yes, God knew Dad’s heart to go home to heaven on his brother’s birthday, July 5th where we anticipate they shared in a reunion beyond imagination.
Adding to this and connecting things a bit back to Chris Jr, it’s likely important to note that Chris Jr while at his apartment in Lexington, KY was prompted to pray for Papaw Dave and was praying for him at 12:07a as he passed. Later that morning, Chris reminded us of the meaning of 7, perfection and completeness. One of the reason Chris knew this is due to his personal time of suffering in the past and God’s sharing with him these times are now complete as he had his last shoulder surgery which was 7 years to the day of his first surgery. This particular surgery was performed in Room #7 on the 7th floor of the hospital. Dad’s passing at 00:07 hours on his brother’s birthday was perfect and complete.
So, while it may have seemed that I’ve gone a bit off on a tangent, I’m wondering if you all picked up on something earlier in the story as it relates to 7? Yes, friends, the number which God has used to encourage Chris Jr with the meaning of perfection and completeness is also the exact distance in time Dad traveled to get from our house to the wedding venue. Some see this as coincidence; I see this as a God who’s intimately involved in the details of our daily lives for those who love and obey Him.
In weeks to come, I’m sure I’ll share more stories as they relate to my Dad. In particular the memories we as a family have and were shared at his celebration of life. Some of these memories will likely fade away; however, the moment of walking him down the aisle and the details of God’s provisioning will never be forgotten.