Growing up, Dad would be ready to go to church first on Sundays. While he drove us to church every service, Mom would put her lipstick on using the visor mirror. She would also pull out mints and offer us one. The drives were calm. Dad took gentle care of his vehicles from the engine to the interior. Music was usually playing. I can't remember music not playing in the car or the house.
A year ago today, God orchestrated that I would be the one in the passenger's seat, putting my lipstick on, and looking for a mint on my Dad's last Sunday drives to church. My Mom had fallen in a store, sustaining a shoulder injury the week before which was why I was there visiting them.
On Sunday morning, we attended the church where two of my daughters serve. That afternoon, we enjoyed an "oustanding" (as my Dad would say) lunch at my daughter's house and had wonderful fellowship with family friends. My Dad loved conversations (talking and listening), especially over good food. My childhood memories include having so many people over from visiting missionaries, singing groups, college groups, teachers, youth group activities, etc... My parents had friends from church that they had so much fun with that are still friends today.
This Sunday a year ago, we snapped a couple pictures as we've come to do regularly on visits, living far away. Dad made jokes about me wanting pictures, but he never complained about having them later. In his later years with health decline, he spent many hours looking through pictures of his family he so loved. This particular afternoon, he really made us laugh, and our friend captured that!
That Sunday evening, Dad and I attended my parent's church, where my brother and his family serve. On the drive, Dad spotted these older cars and wanted me to get a picture.
The three youngest grandchildren sat with us, and brought us smiles. Without trying to distract anyone, I took a few pictures. It was always sweet to see him at church with the little ones whenever I'd visit. They brought him much joy. It did not cross my mind once that this could be the last church service he would attend before Heaven. If I could've known, I probably couldn't have gone.
Why God let me take that last Sunday drive with my Dad, I do not know. Maybe, it was just because He loves me, and He knew I'd need this reminder for the rest of my earthly Sundays.
Today, as I drove my son to church, we got behind a car that was in no rush which reminded me of my Dad's driving to church. The canopy of trees seemed a brighter green, and the potholes were easier to dodge at the slower speed. It seems Dad's "Sunday driving" style allowed for a look at God's creation, time to enjoy it, and discernment to make the ride a bit easier. Life will always have potholes, but some can be avoided, putting less wear and tear on the vehicle and making the ride smoother for the passengers.
That Sunday night after church, Dad took me to a barbecue place because Mom had requested some stew from there. As Dad was about to take a bite, I told Dad to smile. I'm so glad I have that picture memory.
My last Sunday drive with my Dad - only God knew the timing. One day, I will take my last Sunday drive on the earth, and will forever be with my Heavenly Father and my Dad.
No potholes on the Streets of Gold,
No broken down vehicles to complicate
No speed limits or defensive driving
No more long miles to separate.
No more stop signs or red lights,
No more anxiety - which road to take?
No more rude, road-raged drivers,
After the last Sunday drive I make.
Heavenly Love will carry me Home
Away from this earth reeking with sin.
By the blood of Jesus on the Cross,
Death is overcome. Life will win.