How Precious Are You, Really?

My dad had emergency surgery 40 days ago. He is still really sick. Sometimes the doctors tell us he is dying, sometimes they tell us he will pull through. My sisters are really great at doing medical research on the internet and telling the hospital staff how they should be doing their jobs. Actually, sometimes my sisters come up with pretty impressive stuff, like music that stimulates the brain, aromatherapy, a megaphone to talk to him when he’s not very alert, and now they are researching hyperbaric oxygen chambers.

Me? I feel useless compared to them. My contribution so far has been a plastic cone to keep the water off Dad’s face when we wash his hair.

We are desperate to save him.

These 40 days (and counting) are brimming with memorable moments, some good, some not so good, but all worthy of being cherished in our grieving, hopeful hearts.

I’m going to tell you about one of them.

It was the morning of Dad’s emergency surgery. Doctors had said my dad would die without surgery, then warned that his weak heart probably wouldn’t make it through the operation. The odds were definitely against us as we gathered at the hospital, one wife, three daughters, sons-in-love, friends, and grandchildren galore.

At one point, I heard my mother say to one of the doctors: “I know he has dementia, but we still have a life together,” and she described for him their daily routines, the errands they run together, their ongoing fun and laughter.

Over the next few hours we watched the clock. Paced. Cried. And, of course, prayed. Each of us. Out loud. We thanked God for this hilarious, quirky, outgoing, God-loving, family-loving, people-loving man of integrity and strength we have been blessed to call husband, father, grandfather, and friend.

In her prayers, my mom also begged God to please give us more time with him… just a little more time!

One of the doctors emerged from the operating room sooner than we expected with bittersweet news: “He made it through the surgery, now we just have to wait and see if he pulls through.”

Everybody hugged through tears of hope and relief.

That afternoon, my 21-year old daughter, Kacie, and I were hanging out in the waiting room with family and friends as we all took turns sitting with Dad a spell.

As do all the grandkids, Kacie adores her “Momie” (that’s Armenian for grandmother) and “Poppy” (that’s Kentucky-country-boy-speak for grandpa).

Kacie looked thoughtful, and when she finally spoke it was like someone putting into words something she’d been pondering for awhile.

“You know, Mom, it seems like society tells us we have to do or be certain things to have worth. We have to be productive, or beautiful, or powerful, or whatever. If you’re old and failing, you don’t have value. If you’re in the womb and helpless, you don’t have value. If you are disabled and different, you don’t have value. These are the messages of the world.”

She took a deep breath. “Poppy is 84. He can’t always hear. He can’t always remember things. He used to run their businesses, but now Momie has to handle everything. By the world’s standards, he can’t domuch. By the world’s standards, what is the value of his life? And yet Momie’s prayer…”

Her eyes filled with tears.

“Momie begged God for ‘just a little more time…’ Why? Because Poppy’s life is precious. He doesn’t have to be productive. He doesn’t have to be or do anything. His life has worth, just as he is.

“And as she was praying it hit me hard. That’s how God sees us. Momie sees and loves Poppy the way God sees and loves us.”

I’ve thought about her words a lot.

You may not be 84. You may not be hard-of-hearing, or forgetful. You may not be teetering between life and death. But you and my dad have a lot in common. Actually, we all do.

Maybe you’re not as productive, powerful, rich, or beautiful as you think the world says you should be. You may not feel valued by society, your community, or even your own family.

But none of that changes how precious you really are, not even one little bit.

Right now my dad isn’t exactly the epitome of all that the world holds in high esteem. At this moment, he’s not funny or cool or busy or strong or articulate. He’s not charismatic. He’s not self-reliant. (Heck, he can’t even feed himself right now!)

Oh sure, as an entrepreneur, family-man, and leader in his community, he’s been and done all these things and more. But not right now.

But you know what he still is?

Desperately, unabashedly, and wildly loved.

Regardless of your circumstances, regardless of how the world sees you, regardless of how disregarded you may feel by a society obsessed with all the wrong things, you are precious and wildly loved, too.

The way my mom looks at my dad? Cherishes his presence? Yearns for his companionship?

It’s a sacred glimpse of how God looks at you, cherishes you, yearns for you.

As far as Dad goes, I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I might tease my sisters about the aromatherapy, brain music, megaphone, and hyperbaric chamber, but I can’t deny for a moment what those things are really all about.

They are love letters, delivered daily to a silent, helpless man, and the message is loud and clear:

You are cherished.

6 thoughts on “How Precious Are You, Really?

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  1. Hey Karen, My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family at this time. My Dad went to heaven 8 years ago and my Mom had the same reaction and care of him that your Mom does for you Dad.

    Great article and observations on both your part and your daughter’s part. I know writing is hard to make a living off of, but you really have a gift there and a ministry.

    Hope all is well with you and your hubby! jdn

    Jonathan David Neal-Composer ScoreSmith Productions, Inc. 945 E. Whittier Blvd. La Habra, CA 90631 USA 714-658-7344 Blog: Twitter:


  2. Karen,, I have read almost if not every book u have written,, your sis Michelle and I used to work together,, this piece touched me so much.. thank u

    1. Oh Mary! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You’ll be glad to know that last week Dad took a turn for the better and seems to be improving. We are still praying but are so encouraged!

  3. Karen, this is a beautifully, well written ( of course, lest we forget, your forte!) tribute to your entire family, and also for all other people, in assuring them of God’s unconditional love for them, us, you, etc.! I love you all…it is like no days have passed….the kind of family love that never goes away! the closeness your mother and I grew up having was a phenomenal bond that will never leave. Aloha for now….Cheryl

    1. Hi Cheryl! Growing up, oh how I LOVED seeing all the photos and hearing all the stories of the many escapades that you and Mom enjoyed! You’ll be glad to hear that Dad is doing SO much better (Thank you, Jesus!), and that last week we saw a real turnaround. I love you and am so glad to hear from you hear! I love seeing your photos on Facebook, too. Big hug!

  4. Hello from Corbin, Kentucky! What a beautiful picture of God’s love for us. We will be praying for your dad and mom.

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