Monday, August 13, 2012

A Tribute to My Father

by Steve Ray on August 13, 2012

Dad wearing my hat at his 90th Birthday

He was the best of men and fathers. I have no doubt of his destination. He is now with the angels and saints worshiping God in heaven. Being a Christian was his whole life. One cannot discuss my father without recalling that Jesus Christ was the heart of his life.

I remember as a boy he would buy two ice cream cones, walk out and sit on the sidewalk next to a poor man. He gave him the ice cream and said, “While you enjoy the ice cream, let me tell you about Jesus.” That was the heart of my father.

Me on the right with our cow, our pony and our goat and every present Dad

When Ford Motor Company wanted to promote him he would ask, “Would it mean working more hours and Saturdays?” They said, “Yes.” He then responded every time, “I am sorry I have to decline. I have three boys at home that need me more than Ford Motor Company does.”

Saturdays were always for us boys. Dad’s hobby and sport was the family. He worked, took us to church and the rest of his time was with the family.

Saturday in the pool: Dad, Mom and us three brothers

He bought us a pony, built a 15 foot swing set and tree fort, put up a pool, built a little barn, worked in our garden, watched the birds, took us for endless walks in the woods and more than anything else he read us books. Every evening he read us books and told us stories.

Pneumonia hit him two weeks ago today and antibiotics couldn’t whip it. He was too weak. We had three priests come in to pray for him and anoint him. I prayed along with them and said, “Lord, if he is deficient in anything, give it to him now through the hands and words of your priests and through his faith and the Catholic faith of his family.”

We love knowing of his love for Jesus and in the end, when he could only whisper, he pointed up and struggling to breath whispered, “I believe now more than ever.”

A few months ago viewing the grave plots where he will now be buried. He was ready.

Charles Robert Ray died peacefully at 4:20 AM in his own bed with my daughter Emily holding his hand and singing to him about Jesus and praying the Rosary. Janet and I were in an airplane heading home and arrived shortly after he died. But we had a blessed two hours with my mom and my kids and my siblings. We hugged and kissed him as his body grew stiff and cold. And then they zipped him into the vinyl bag and took him away.

He taught me how to live, and now – how to die. He will be missed. Thanks Dad for being a real father, for loving us, working hard without ever complaining, caring for us, being an example and leading us to Christ. He is adored by his grandkids and his great grandkids. I am who I am today because of my dad and mom.

In the dedication to my first book I wrote, “To my parents, Charles and Fran Ray, who raised me in a godly Evangelical home, who taught me to love the Lord, who spent untold hours praying for me, and who gave me a passion for truth and learning (see 2 Timothy 3:15).”

Thanks to everyone for your prayers. We have a special Facebook page in his honor.

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It is so Strange; My Dad is Gone

by Steve Ray on August 13, 2012

It is so strange, so final. My dad is no longer here. He went to be with the Lord at 4:20 AM while I was in a plane high over the heartland rushing home to say “Good-bye.” But my daughter Emily was there, holding his hand and praying aloud the Hail Mary while he peacefully slipped away.

Janet and arrived at his bedside with my mom, my kids and my siblings. We had two blessed hours as his emaciated body grew cold. He was there, but he was not there. We hugged him and thanked him for giving us life, for being an ever faithful father and for being an example of how to live and how to die.

Some of his last whispered words to me before he went into a long sleep a few days ago were, “I believe more now than ever” while pointing up.

I’m a bit numb. I am who I am because he was who he was. I have his first Bible and the card he signed in 1953 (a year before I was born) professing his trust in Jesus Christ. It was the center of his life every day from point on. He lived the Christian life in front of me every day.

Will the reality of my loved father gone ever be real? He was the best. He’ll be missed and remembered. “Lord Jesus, greet him for me as you receive him into your presence.”

Dad’s favorite verse from the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

A picture of Dad a few weeks ago. He died in his bed in this room where he loved to watch the birds on the window feeders.

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