When My Pa Went to Heaven

My Pa went on to be with Jesus, and I try hard to remember everything. I scratch around for everything I can possibly recall about him, for days. I lay down at night, and search the memories, the colors, the moving pictures, the snapshots in my head, because if I can just remember all the things, then somehow I can hold on to him.

There I am again, about 10 or 11. It’s Thanksgiving Day and we live down a dusty dirt road. Family is coming over for lunch and my Pa is down at the culvert, trying to clear out the dam that the beavers built, that’s making the water flood over the road. My Mom tells me to take Dad coffee, in that plastic cup that we kept from Hardee’s. Or was it McDonald’s? Either way, I set out down the stretch of road, with a warm cup of coffee for my Pa, and I feel so grown up, going all by myself, for such a long way.

There’s Dad, with this special tool that he made–a long pole with a hook on the end so he can clear branches from underneath the bridge. I smile big and hand him coffee. He’s thankful. Playfully complains about the dumb dog that keeps grabbing the sticks that Dad throws on the other side of the ditch, thinking he’s just out there to play fetch.

There’s Dad at the station, where he works. His hands are grease-stained. He’s taking a smoke break and he’s got that sparkle in his eyes. I stop by to ask him a car question. He always fixes everything.


There’s Pa in his chair in the living room, up late watching some sci-fi movie. It’s 1:00 in the morning and I just woke up hungry, so I raid the fridge. We smile at each other in the early morning hours. My Dad was such a night owl. I don’t know how he ever managed on so little sleep.

Now, he’s out back with a hammer and some spare wood. He’s making a playhouse for me. A couch. Some chairs. A shelf for my plants. I think to myself that I hope I remember this day forever.


Dad’s mowing the front yard. Making trails in the tall grass. Me and my little brother following behind him on our bikes.


Now, he’s out in his shop playing some Neil Young tunes on his guitar. I pause and just listen. Hum along. I love the sound of his voice.

There’s Dad walking me down the aisle of my wedding day. I see him cry.


Now Dad is in his room in a Hospice hospital bed. I listen to him breathe. My big brother and sister and I all take turns spending the night. We don’t want Mom to be alone when he goes. I lay awake in the chair beside him in the darkness, thinking of all the times he checked the doors every night to make sure they were locked. All the times he made me feel safe.

I wonder if my laying here, makes him feel safe at all. Just to know he’s not alone.

When my Pa went on to heaven, my friend wrote,

“Just as out of the dark ground comes the blossom, so out of the night, a morning appears.”

And then another friend sent me this picture of daffodils pushing up out of the cold ground.

I think about how my Dad transitioned from his earthly life to his heavenly life. As from Night to the fullest light of Day. And even though it hurts to know that he’s gone from here, when Heaven opened the door for my Pa, I could feel the warmth of so much glory Light.


  1. by Jamie on March 6, 2018  4:01 pm Reply

    Beautiful, as a believer this is how I feel when I know someone is going "Home". Tears of missing, but tears of joy for them.

  2. by Faye Greenawalt on March 6, 2018  4:09 pm Reply

    Oh dear sweet Maggie. Such heartfelt words depicting how much you love your “Pa”. There will be so many wonderful reunions “when we all get to heaven”.

  3. by Kaiti on March 7, 2018  2:52 pm Reply

    Beautiful tribute.

  4. by Susan Weilbacher on March 8, 2018  8:09 am Reply

    Thank you so much, Maggie. I think your sharing of memories, thoughts, and your grief is somehow helping me still heal after losing my Dad many years ago. He's with your Pa in Heaven, that I know. Peace & Glory!

  5. by Kathy Bryan on March 9, 2018  12:43 am Reply

    Maggie, I hope you realize some day just how much your life, your words, and the way you simply, elegantly share your heart is the most supreme tribute to your Sweet, amazing parents. Still praying for all of you.

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