A hard letter to write


Dear Dad — 

I’m writing to you to explain again to you why I moved you into the Memory Care Center this week.

I know I had a very long conversation with you about it before I took you there, but you’re still pretty good at reading, and I thought writing it down might still help you as you read it and try to understand or just try to deal with it.

And if you never understand and never fully agree, that’s O.K., too. After we talked and talked, and you questioned and questioned, and I explained and explained, you said you didn’t agree, but that you would go. I thank you for that.

What I said to you in that conversation involved many different things. First of all, I said to you that I love you and will always do what is best for you, and that I would never do anything to hurt you or harm you or put you in any danger.

I will always do whatever is necessary to take care of you, to protect you, and to keep you safe. I told you that when I was a little boy you loved me and always did what was best for me, and that you never did anything to hurt me or harm me or put me in any danger.

You always did whatever was necessary to take care of me, to protect me, and to keep me safe. So, it’s my turn now to do that same thing for you.

That’s how it works. In fact, I told you that this is God’s plan. Of course, God intends the parents of children to care for their children in every way, taking loving responsibility to protect their children and see to their children’s needs.

And then God commands, as in The Ten Commandments, that children should honor their father and mother and turn it around and care for their parents as their parents reach an age and circumstances when the parents can no longer care fully for themselves. Again, that’s God’s plan.

I reminded you, Dad, that you are now 100 years old. What a blessed and long life God has given you, and we are all so thankful for that. You are so thankful for that. However, with the joys of reaching 100, also come the realities of the limitations and failings that go along with that.

I know you don’t remember, but I’ll tell you again with all the love in my heart. There have been many times when you have not been thinking with total accuracy.

There have been times when you thought you were a much younger man or even a boy and you were walking to town or down a country road. When you were thinking that way, you were actually walking in streets and in places that were dangerous for you. You could have been hit by a car or truck.

For your safety and for my peace of mind that I was responsibly protecting you to the full extent of my capability, I had to make sure you were in a place that could assure you and me and all of us that you could not put yourself in that danger anymore.

The previous place you lived provided a great experience for “assisted living,” but this new place is equipped to give you the additional care and protection you now need.

When we were talking about these things, you asked me, “What did I do wrong so that I have to move?” I kept saying then, and I keep saying now, you did not do anything wrong.

It is just the truth that a person 100 years old simply needs more care and protection than in younger years. And it’s that person’s children who have the loving responsibility to see to that care and protection.

Dad, you are such a strong Christian. You have lived your faith all your life. You have been such a great example of faith to all your family and to all around you.

You were a great Pastor, preaching the Gospel and caring for your congregations. You know that Jesus is your Savior and you say all the time, “Heaven is my home!” Even if your physical brain stops comprehending all of your faith, your soul will hold fast and you will be in heaven soon. I promise to take care of you, and make sure others take care of you, until that Glorious Day.

Thank you for everything you have been for me and done for me. I could not have had a more faithful, supportive, and encouraging dad. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Just keep remembering your favorite hymn:

“I’m but a stranger here, heaven is my home;

“Earth is a desert drear, heaven is my home;

“Danger and sorrow stand round me at every hand;

“Heaven is my fatherland, heaven is my home.

“What though the tempest rage, heaven is my home;

“Short is my pilgrimage, heaven is my home;

“And time’s wild wintry blast soon will be over-past

“I shall reach home at last, heaven is my home.

“Therefore I murmur not, heaven is my home;

“What e’re my earthly lot, heaven is my home;

“And I shall surely stand there at my Lord’s right hand

“Heaven is my fatherland, heaven is my home.”

I love you, Dad. I’ll come see you tomorrow.


(This is an actual letter I wrote to my Dad today.)

[Kollmeyer is Pastor Emeritus at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville. Follow Pastor Scott Ness and this great church at www.princeofpeacefayette.org. Kollmeyer is also Interim Pastor at Word of God Lutheran Church in Sharpsburg. Find his weekly video recorded sermons at www.woglutheran.org.]