Monday, November 2

remembering my Dad ~ Gerald Henry Thomas

As I sit and look outside this morning - 8 am and quite bright due to the time change - I realize it is a much different day than 12 years ago. I remember the morning. Having dropped Alvin off at the firehall, I proceeded very slowly across the streets of Winnipeg. It had begun to rain on Halloween, 1997... and rained all the day on the 31st and Nov. 1st - but the rain turned to freezing rain. While it had now stopped, it had left huge frozen ruts down middle of streets - which made it extremely treacherous to drive, let alone to figure out how to get out of the rutt in the middle, to allow another car to drive by. I hated the drive that morning - as I just hate icy streets.

After church - we went for something to eat, and then Josh went to the Epps to hang out with Matt. Ash and I went to the grocery store and headed over to Poppa and Kay's house. It was their 3 month anniversary. Needless to say, I did not know it would be the last day my dad would be alive on this side of heaven.

Our visit went well - and being that it was baptism at our church that night - I needed to get something ready for the pre-baptism supper we were having (as deacons) with our baptismal candidates. I was in the kitchen talking with dad and Kay and doing the veggies... when Dad whispered to Kay that he needed to go and sit in his chair in the other room.

Dad walked by, and it became very obvious something was wrong. The next time frame was a bit of a blurr.... I went to help dad, who was breathing very heavy and hard - he stopped walking, as Kay ran to get him a chair. His one arm was moving weirdly, and he began to hum.... it was strange. I asked him if he had pain, trouble breathing and he said yes. I told Ashley to call 411! Good thing my daughter knew it was 911 because in my excitement, I told her the number for directory assistance!!
I stood in the hall, with my arms around my father - with many thoughts going through my mind. You see, he had an episode like this before, while at church, and then Kay later took him to the hospital. When we went there - the doctors had told dad that things seemed to check out okay with him - it must have been because he was just getting over the flu. I had the sense that all this was again NOT flu related, but heart. Dad continued to hum, and then he went limp, his head went back. Me... I was trying to hold him in his chair while Ashley called and gave instructions to 911.

Not sure how long later - just minutes I think, Dad came "to" and wanted to just go and sit in his big chair. We got the wheelchair that had been mom's - and wheeled hiim over, and he got up and sat in his chair. He seemed much better, although his color was ashen. Within minutes the fire truck pulled up alongside, and the crew came in....

They took a reading - said things looked good, but that they were going to take Dad to the hospital. He was joking with them. He got up and went on the stretcher. He told me to wait till the bread machine was done, and then come. I did not think this would be the last time I saw him alive, talking and joking.

The rest - it seems like it happened in quick succession although it was over the course of the next two hours or so. I got there shortly, as did my sister Heather and her husband. We called the rest. Mary-Ann and Nelson had to come in from the beach - on those treacherous roads. We filled them in and told them to maybe wait until we found out how dad was. Little did we know that as they were wheeling Dad into the hospital emergency dept. that he had another episode .... which caused them to react quickly. The nurse came out - told us about that, and that Dad was (what they knew) in the beginning of a heart attack. She took Kay, Heather, Greg and I, into the "family room" to wait. We made another round of phonecalls - everyone was on their way. I called Alvin again. He was at work, and had already seen that the first responders had been to Dad's and taken him in. He would be coming too.
Within a short time - we heard something over the loud speaker - I think it was Code Red - and we knew it was for Dad. We knew something was so terribly wrong.
About half an hour later, the nurse came and told us that Dad - OUR Dad.... was gone. There was nothing they could do to stop the heart attack, it was massive. Dad - absent from the body and present with the Lord. All of a sudden - I became an orphan.

My dad was a BIG man in my life - my hero - the one who (along with my mom) took my name to the throne of grace day after day after day. My memories of my dad went back to childhood - he was the one who could put my long long hair into a beautiful pony tail, all together - neat and tidy. I still wonder how he did that with his big man hands...

My dad - I have letters from when he used to travel and I was little - he sent me a letters with stick people to represent what would happen i.e. a stick man hugging his little girl when he got home.

My dad - the one that I used to love being around - and the one that I just always wanted to take care of when I got older (until I fell in love with Alvin and decided mom could take care of Dad!! lol )

My dad - who encouraged me in my dream to open a daycare, which is now one of a few big centers in the city. He provided the admin. know-how... and well, the finances until we became non-profit and were able to secure grants.

My dad - who walked me down the aisle - put my hand in Alvin's and encouraged us as a couple to love and serve the Lord.

My dad - his name is my son's second name - and how much I see my dad in Josh. I also see much of my dad's personality in Ashley too.

My dad - he could tickle my back so that I could settle down and sleep - he could sing me "choo-chums" as I called it, as I sat on his knee - my dad could (in my eyes) "do anything - fix anything - make anything" (just like my husband!!)

My dad who saw an idea - and went for it!! He was an outside of the box thinker - selling the very first "autoboggans" (now called snowmobiles) in the country... my dad who fought in WWII, was maimed but continued to live like he had two good legs instead of one - nothing was going to keep him down. (just like the song) In the last years before Dad's passing - he had spent many times going into schools, talking about how war should never happen again - and encouraging young kids to live in peace. My dad who often had many jobs going at one time - who started a Bible camp because he felt God calling him to do that - who would talk to anyone about his love for Jesus Christ.

Now - don't get me wrong - my dad was very human - and not perfect!! He had a quick temper at times, and often had to say he was sorry for saying something off the cuff. But that is the thing - he knew how to say he was sorry - and was not "too manly" to do so. He also went the extra mile for us kids and our families. He was always there, and we knew that we could always count on him. Always.

I remember the last time Dad and I travelled into the city together. I was taking him in after he had dropped off his motorhome. It had been a long summer - my in-laws were staying with us as Alvin helped build their home just beside us. I was tired of making meals for hoards of people (or so it seemed) day in, day out on top of working in the city. I was just tired of that, and feeling down, especially that time, as it had been our anniversary but Alvin was so tied up in the housebuilding that there was nothing special for "us" on our anniversary. It just was a hard day... Dad sensed this and when he got into the car - he asked me "how you doing honey?" and the tears flowed....

I think that is what I miss about my mom and dad being gone - is that they were the ones that really had that parent sense when things were hard.

I miss my mom and dad both - so much. Today I think of my dad - and wish that 12 years ago - that his heart didn't stop. But it did. And so, today I will think of Dad and Mom with our little Jay, in heaven. Dad with TWO legs now - and perhaps he is singing choo-chums with Jay on his knee. Regardless - I think he is lovin' Heaven!! But I sure miss him.

Jesus - not sure if you do this or not - but can you just tell my Dad again, how much I love him, and miss him, but how glad I am that he is with Mom, and with Jay.
Thank you Lord for the blessing of my parents - who raised me in a godly home - and taught me all about you Lord! Thank you for the characteristics that they passed down in me - the things about them that make my personality! Thank you..... for my dad.

Gerald Henry Thomas - born September 8, 1921. Died November 2, 1997 after a life well lived. Age 76.

Posted by a daughter who loved him so much, and misses him even more!
Posted on Monday, November 2, 2009

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