IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE ARE MANY ROOMS OF JOY
When I got here last night, he was already sleeping.
Mom told me to go see him in their room.
He was sleeping quietly.
As I stood there, by his bed, thousands of memories filled my mind.
He, a young adult, making me feel the most blessed son in the world.
He, intense; a businessman; a learned, clever attorney.
He, bankrupt, broke, betrayed, bitter, shocked by reality.
He, coming to know Him, and becoming like a child of the kingdom.
He, a pastor, because he was a pastor.
He, a lover of human beings; enraptured by the Gospel as never before or after I ever saw.
He, on his knees because of me, for years…
He, teaching me to read the Word, fast, face demons, and believe in grace.
He as a man of sorrows (and he has endured so many!); in his soul, in his body, in the shocks from always loving and never giving up.
He, getting old.
He, going blind.
He, almost dying… but eventually always living.
He, broken, but never weak.
He, always on the go, building things, and, above all, always listening to people and helping everyone.
He, not honored as the grateful honor would expect it from many who shared his bread, but today treat him as if he was no longer himself.
He, however, always tranquil. Always patient. Always seeing the best in each person. Always covering over sins with mercy.
He, never judging; having a dread of committing a blasphemy against someone’s soul.
He, caught up to paradise.
Last, I remembered what he said when he learned he would be operated on today:
“Son, your Dad has three choices: Undergo the surgery, not survive, and go to be with the Lord. Or undergo the surgery, survive at first, but die of the complications, and go to be with the Lord. Or, son, your Dad can go through all of it very well, get healthier, and live for some more time here until he goes to be with the Lord. These three choices lead me to the same ending: Be with the Lord. Aren’t all my prognoses great?”
I came to my room in Dad and Mom’s home and cried over many other good, significant memories.
I woke up early. Dad had told me to be up at about 6 a.m. He did not want to be late for the surgery.
A week ago I tried to persuade him not to submit himself to a fourfold surgery: having the prostate removed, having the urinary bladder (deformed by the enlargement of the prostate) operated on, having the right kidney operated on (an unidentified cyst) and having the basis of the left kidney cut off as it is compromised by something probably cancerous. I was also concerned about the “survival” of his brain after so many surgeries he has gone through in his life—and now, one more, when he is almost 83.
“My son! When you were here two months ago, did you find me well and strong?”
“Yes, Dad. You were in great shape!”
“All right, that’s how I still am: great, strong and unworried. Could I be any better to be operated on? Don’t be concerned, my son!”
This morning I repeated what I had done many other times: I prepared him for the surgery. He was confident and in a good mood all the time. He posed playfully as I took pictures of him. He saw tears on my sisters Suely’s and Ana’s faces and said: “Cheer up! Trust! It’s all right!”
Doctors and nurses are always touched and usually cry when he leaves the hospital—he comforts a person here, another there; prays for another; advices another; and he goes on salting everything. This makes all the medical staff miss him.
“It’s going to take about six hours”, the anesthetist told us.
It took one hour and a half only.
Soon the doctor walked out of the operating room to show us everything he had removed from Dad, including the enlarged prostate, leaving my sisters Suely and Ana on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
“Do you promise not to faint?”, he asked them.
“We do!”, they replied with one voice, frightened.
“Oh, God, whatever can it be?”, they conjectured.
“Here is his prostate and the other things. Beautiful, isn’t it? It was wonderful!”
Only then they were reassured.
“The blood loss was very little and he is very well”, Dr. Marcel said.
One hour later, already “sewed up”, Dad left the operating room.
“You can talk to him”, the anesthetist told me.
“Dad! Everything came out right! It was fast. You look great, Dad!”, I said, holding his hand.
I bent down to his ear and told him to hold on, because the doctors would give him something to quench his thirst as soon as possible, reminding him that that was how the post-operative condition was.
“Your Dad is aware, son. I’m fully conscious. I can even quote Romans!”, he said, as we were waiting for the elevator to take him to the ICU.
The doctors and the nurses were puzzled. My sisters and I laughed at that. Ah! We have seen amazing things from him. He is surprise itself all the time.
“I know, Dad, I know. But don’t talk now or air will enter and you’ll be with gasses”, I said, doing my duty.
“Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes”—the words came out of his half-closed, dried, thirsty mouth; lips sticking together; however open enough for him to state what signals the most intrinsic conscience in him: the Gospel.
Now, in the evening, I took Mom to see him at the ICU. She was most kind to him, and uttered her undying admiration, joy and delight that she takes in him.
“My old man of God, you are brave; you are full of courage; I’m proud of you.”
He smiled most gently. Then she said, “Let us pray, my old man; let us thank the Lord.”
And she began praying.
Worried about him, I was watching it all with my eyes open. Suddenly I started to hear those “Amen’s!”, “Alleluias!” and that heartfelt “Oh Lord, that’s true!”
Mom stopped, but he kept on glorifying the Lord.
“Dad”, I said, “glorify just in your mind, or you’ll be full of air!”
He agreed and stopped.
Now, as I write, a prayer meeting is going on in the garage of their house. Since 1971, this meeting was never called off here. With deaths and births; in deep joy or sorrow; when I was exalted and when I was humiliated; when my sisters were all right or not so well; with grandsons alive or dying—this prayer meeting has never ceased here for a single day.
Yes! Even the week they buried my brother Luis, 19, killed in a car accident on November 2, 1976. Not even that week the prayer meeting here was silent in heaven.
We, his children and grandchildren, and my mother, a brave woman who has been his wife for over 54 years, thank the Lord for keeping him with us for longer for our sake (not his), and only in order that he will still see some things that his heart desires as answers to his prayers.
I also want to thank everyone who has prayed for him, in Manaus, in Brazil, and all over the world.
With each passing day, this little man is increasingly gigantic to me. He fills me of joy in God, and shows me, day by day, what to live in Christ is like, what to love truly is like, and what to experience the peace that surpasses knowledge is like.
God’s glory is resting on him. Death and life lost importance. He shows everyone who watches his simple life that, as a matter of fact, they are in front of a man who feeds on God’s Grace and is satisfied in His likeness every day.
The greatest human blessing I ever received in this world was to be born of him, and learn from him the ways of man and the ways of God.
In Him, grateful and grateful,
From the original “NA CASA DE MEU PAI HÁ MUITAS MORADAS DE ALEGRIA”
Translated by F. R. Castelo Branco | August 2007