40 Things You Feel 40 Days After Your Dad Dies



My dad, David Watkins, in October 1991, overlooking a bumper cotton crop. Accept for the day he accepted Christ as his Savior, this may have been his finest day.

Every single word in the Bible has meaning. Significant meaning. The words are there at the whisper, the love, and sometimes even the anger of God.

I’ve always been fascinated at the significance of the numbers, and how God uses them in the bible to represent certain things. The number 40 is of particular interest to me. It signifies a period of “testing,” or challenge … and, the fulfillment of a promise.

This is the way you feel 40 days after your dad is gone:

  1. In the quietest of moments, when there are no distractions, you shake your head in wonderment. And that’s all you can do … shake your head and wonder.
  2. You savor the moments you went fishing and hunting together.
  3. If you’re an only child, particularly the only son of an only son, you realize that to some extent now, you’re the head of the family, and you’re scared.
  4. You take on a welcome new responsibility for your mom.
  5. By the grace of God, you forget the arguments, and you remember the tender moments of transparency.
  6. You wonder what he’s doing in Heaven at this very moment.
  7. You wonder if he knows you miss him.
  8. You picture him praising the Lord with his hands raised, happy beyond measure.
  9. You imagine him covered in Light.
  10. …and you can only shake your head in wonderment…
  11. You regret not having been a better son.
  12. You have a new understanding for the burdens he carried as the head of the family.
  13. You have a new comprehension for his failures.
  14. You hear a song on the radio that carries the theme of Jesus’ love, and you cry.
  15. You put up bird houses that await the migration of the purple martins, just as he did for years and you wish he could sit on the back patio with you …waiting.
  16. You wear his clothes, just because you can.
  17. You walk into a room where he spent his days, and you can still smell him.
  18. You wear his dog tag from his days in the National Guard, and you never take it off.
  19. You try to have forgiveness for those who in his final days denied him the request of Baptism because of the doctrinal beliefs in immersion, and you struggle with that almost every day.
  20. …and you shake your head in wonderment, because that’s all you can do.
  21. You start a vegetable garden in your back yard as a tribute to him.
  22. …and in that garden you plant cotton seeds from his last harvest and you plan to replant those seeds every year on May 1.
  23. You wear his collection of caps.
  24. You remember your roots with newfound pride.
  25. You wish he could sit with you and watch the Final Four in a few weeks.
  26. You wish you could just sit with him on the back porch and drink a cold beer.
  27. You pursue lost dreams with vigor and determination because you realize life is short and but a vapor.
  28. You regret the mistakes you, yourself have made as a father.
  29. You determine to be a better man and live a life just like he did in the last month of his life, with grace, humility, forgiveness and love, and you re-realize that it’s not important how you start out in life, what matters is how you finish.
  30. …and you shake your head in wonderment, because that’s all you can do.
  31. You write, because that’s the gift God gave you, and you do it as a tribute to him and Him.
  32. You determine as best you can to avoid distractions and focus on what’s important.
  33. In your heart, you search the world over for another father figure.
  34. You set new priorities.
  35. You realize that despite the kind words and genuine goodness of those around you, nobody knows how you feel, and sometimes you are just lonely.
  36. You hope he knows how much you loved him, even if you were a rebellious jerk so many times.
  37. You still hear his voice from the basketball court sidelines 35 years ago yelling “shoot the ball!”
  38. You just sit and stay quiet.
  39. You weep still.
  40. … and you shake your head in wonderment … because that’s all you can do.