In thinking of Father’s Day, I always think of my husband, Earl, and Heavenly Father together as He spared Earl’s life as a young child so we, his family, friends, and all his posterity could be together in the eternities.
Earl’s cousin, Harold Steves shared this story with me: When Earl was about four years old, he was visiting his Aunt Winnie Steves. Earl’s dad had a workhorse out in front of the house by the roadside. They have very big feet, Harold emphasized. Earl fell down on his back in front of the horse. The huge horse went to take a step and put it’s hoof down right on top of Earl’s chest. Sensing something was there, the horse didn’t put any weight on his hoof. Earl’s father seemed to appear from nowhere and quickly grabbed Earl out and away from certain death. With divine intervention, his life was saved, changing history.
Earl was called home and crossed the veil last year after living a life to its fullest measure even with Parkinson’s disease for 22 of his 75 years, safely anchored in the Lord’s plan of salvation.
Earl faced his life and succeeded
I always view Earl as a blessed man from the start and when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, we embraced it and its changes instead of choosing to become bitter. I view him as a miracle as he did not have tremors, freeing him to walk and do all the things he desired. It was an honor and privilege to be his wife and stand and face this together.
He loved, laughed, and enjoyed his family to no end. He was engaged in many things including ensuring that Philip, our son who passed away in his youth, was sealed to our family; adding countless names to our family history; becoming an author; working as a stake missionary; and building a house. He did renovations implementing his creative ideas. He even saved our family’s lives from a watery grave during a boating misadventure. Earl viewed challenges as opportunities and this carried him well through life. I never heard him murmur or complain, speak ill of anyone, and his decision making and advice always proved to be correct. When I erred and would apologize profusely, never did I hear about it again. He was a quiet, rock of a man who had an unwavering, unshakeable faith in God and lived his life accordingly.
Our son, Darren, and I had a four-day spiritual experience with my Earl when he made it known to us that he wanted to “go home” as he lifted his arm up, straight out and pointed his finger in intervals, straight ahead, three times. We knew without question Earl had been prepared and we were part of his journey. This was a miracle as he could not perform this function due to Parkinson’s. We had the honor and privilege of escorting Earl right to the veil where he was greeted and taken “home.” We have faith in the blessing that our bishop gave Earl that thousands of people would be there in heaven to greet him and to thank him. Earl also went ahead to prepare the way for me, and I need to fulfill my divine destiny here, whatever that is.
Many disabled, sick, and the elderly are often spoken of unkindly, and many are long forgotten as their bodies and minds fail them when they go into hospitals or institutions, but Earl’s journey shines a light to remind everyone that we are all in God’s plan of salvation and He is mindful of each and every person.
Our eternal perspective brings joy and peace
Our journey has not ended. Together we went against all earthly odds in shaping his divine destiny. We were a united front against the adversary and adversity, and we were left standing loving each other throughout almost 50 years of the most inviting and eventful marriage. Once even a stranger in a store and young workers saw that something between us and asked, “How do you two do that?” “How can I get that?”
This is the advice I would give, as expressed by President Russell M. Nelson: “My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation . . . and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening-or not happening-in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy” (Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign, November 2016).
Elder D. Todd Christofferson speaks beautifully of fathers: “Some men are single fathers, foster fathers, or stepfathers. Many of them strive mightily and do their very best in an often difficult role. We honor those who do all that can be done in love, patience, and self-sacrifice to meet individual and family needs. It should be noted that God Himself entrusted His Only Begotten Son to a foster father. Surely some of the credit goes to Joseph for the fact that as Jesus grew, He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (D. Todd Christofferson, “Fathers,” Ensign, May 2016).
God bless fathers everywhere.