In the early morning hours of March 17th, I was very restless, not being able to sleep. Why? I don’t know for sure. All I know is I couldn’t get back to sleep. After hours of praying mostly for sleep to return, I felt compelled to get up, go outside in the dark, pray and wait for the sunrise. The sunrise was glorious!
It was later that day when I realized the date, March 17th, the anniversary of when my daddy had passed into glory in 1990. My dad, Vulus Raymond Dowell Jr. (V.R. as he was called by my mom or Bud as he was called by friends) died on this significant date after a battle with colon cancer. It is interesting to me how restless I had been in the early morning hours on this anniversary and how I had felt compelled to see the sunrise.
My dad, like me, loved to be outside enjoying nature. He valued God’s creation whether it was noticing the intricacies of a wildflower, fern or microbe. I recall my Aunt June, dad’s only sibling, sharing how dad as a child loved exploring the wilderness areas near their home town, Liberty, Kentucky.
As an adult, my dad continued to have a passion for exploration. He became a pioneer in the field of microbiology earning his PhD in this new field from the University of Cincinnati. To do so, he had to sacrifice a lot as he worked to earn his way through school while also supporting a family.
Dad was also willing to make a difficult choice to follow his passion when he chose to move our family from Clifton, our beloved community of 8 years, to a “foreign land” Atlanta, Georgia to conduct research at the Centers for Disease Control. I know this had to have been a difficult decision for him because my mom, my sister, Linda, and I were not happy at the time to be moving. (Polly was too little to voice an opinion, but she may recall our cries.) Later, I think my mom, sisters and I acknowledged dad had made the right choice.
For several years towards the end of his life, dad served as the director of the Anaerobic Bacteriology Department at the Centers for Disease Control. After long years of study and devotion to a purposeful career, God gave my dad the opportunity to write textbooks and to travel to many countries in the world teaching others about his findings.
Daddy was a person who loved to share what he was learning. I remember there was a time when he taught Sunday school. I sometimes wish I had been in his class. I would have liked to have heard what he taught his students. Did he ever talk about his childhood discoveries or teach them about his awe of God’s creation?
Daddy went to heaven at the age of 62, my current age. There are so many questions I wish I had asked my dad when he was alive. Being the oldest of his four daughters, I was blessed to have been a part of his life longer than my sisters. Yet, for a good portion of my life, I was consumed by my own experiences going to college, graduate school, teaching, being a wife and mother away from home in Kentucky and Tennessee.
I don’t think I realized the magnitude of my dad’s accomplishments until after he was gone. That’s often the way it is, isn’t it? We, in our humanity, often don’t realize the treasures we have in our parents or show them the full honor they deserve until it’s too late to do so here on earth. I am thankful, though, my daddy knew I loved him. But more importantly my dad knew God loved him.
I have come to truly believe my dad accomplished, in his sixty-two years, what he was called to do here on earth. Heavenly father was pleased with dad for persevering in the work he was called to do, following through on the passions he had been given.
There is a mystery as to why beloved Christian family members and friends are sometimes taken home at times which seem too early. But I do trust the promises shared in God’s Word to you and me. There is good news! One day we will experience a great reunion in heaven. I look forward with hope, anticipating time I will spend with my dad as he shares with me the amazing discoveries God has revealed to him. I look forward someday to exploring the new heaven and the new earth with all my loved ones and don’t want anyone to miss out.
What an amazing time it will be living in fullness of life in the radiance of God’s glory, praising and thanking Him with joyful hearts!
On March 17th after enduring a restless night of little sleep and then being led to see the sunrise, I remember feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays. I, however, experienced even greater warmth in my heart as I penned the words of the poem I have posted along with this article.
Today I want to dedicate this poem to my dad. I also give God the glory for giving me a dad who loved me well and taught me to appreciate God in His creation, nature and people.
Reflection: If you are struggling with doubts or fears about tomorrow, try reading God’s love letter to you. By spending time reading Romans 8, I pray you, like me, will discover glorious Hope.
In the Old Testament, David, who had spent many a night as a boy and man looking at God’s creation and depending upon God along His life’s journey shared these words:
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to
You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You
Forever. (Psalm 30: 11-12, NKJV)
Prayer: Father in Heaven, you have a destiny for each one reading this article. I pray they may see You and know You more deeply. May we trust You to guide us through our life’s journey.