I have really been struggling. My most recent Facebook status said, “When will I be able to think of something else? And when will have to become want to?” I shared my struggles with a friend who lost her dad last summer. She said, “Try to do something…that way you have something to show for your sadness.” Today, I cleaned out our storage closet and found a few treasures and have a clean closet!!!
My dad was born July 29, 1940 to Coy and Bessie Phillips. He grew up in Freedom and graduated from Freedom High School in 1959, but eventually his family moved to Alva.
In 1965, he married Mary Elizabeth Wilcox. In 1967, he cofounded Hamm and Phillips and after my birth in 1971, we moved to Ringwood, OK.
In Ringwood, we lived across the street from his office and often my mom would take us across the street to see him and ride in his truck. My dad loved the oil field, but also loved the farm…I have memories of taking meals to the wheat field and going to the farm to count cows. In the Third Grade, I transition from a country gal to a city girl, when he began Enid Mack Sales.
My dad worked long hours, but I always remember him taking time for his family. He cheered us on during our games, spent long hours at recitals and loved spending time with family.
No matter how busy he was, he would always make time to talk to me. Sometimes I would have to hunt him down at one of his favorite hangouts, but even surrounded by friends, he would make room for me.
Two things I always remember him doing were…helping me move and providing airport transportation. My first move was in 1989 into the dorm at OSU. We had a 3 car caravan and with the help of my brother and one of his friends, they unloaded the cars, climbed stairs dripping in sweat, while my mom and I unpacked and decorated my tiny new home. It seemed like only seconds had past and my room was finished, dad had bought my books and one last meal and they were gone. I spent the rest of the day in my room wondering what had just happened and trying to get the courage to call my dad to come back and take me home. Some how I managed to graduate making at least 10 more moves and he always helped…and paid my first months rent to “make sure I got started off on the right foot.”
My first real job was at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. I would fly home once a month and he was always the first face I would see as I got off the plane and the last one waving good-bye.
On Memorial Day of 1995, after a long, difficult battle with Multiple Myeloma, my mom died. It still hurts. I miss her. I long to pick up the phone and tell her about my day, about the fabulous grandkids she never got to meet, spoil or be proud of. She was such a wonderful mother, friend and wife.
In the beginning of my dad’s career, vacations were limited to occasional weekend getaways to the lake with friends or business trips that covered as many miles possible in one day with hotels that included a pool to justify the trip as a family vacation…and souvenirs were limited to the gift shop at the Mack Headquarters or a treat from the gas station. He eventually gained an appreciation for fun, relaxation and time away from work. He loved fishing, hunting and later riding motorcycles and going on Jeep adventures.
My dad’s idea of golfing compared to my idea of golfing!!!
A trip to Estes Park, Colorado the summer after my mom died in 1995.
Snow skiing the same year.
After my mom died, I moved to Fort Worth, Texas to pursue my Master’s of Divinity. During this time, my dad began dating Barbara Anguish and they were married in October 1998.
I do not remember my dad ever losing his temper or yelling…and I am positive he would have been justified in doing so!!! I had a tendency to really test parental authority.
I remember my dad forbidding me from doing something. I batted my eyes. I promised him I wouldn’t. I locked my keys in my car doing the very thing I promised I would not do. Called him. He came, put his arm around me and said, “I suggest you head for home.” That was it. Not another word.
However, after returning home from a mission trip to Bosnia, I was sharing my photos with him and came across this picture.
He shut the book, looked me in the eye and said, “You think this is fun, but you could have died!” and walked away. He never did ask to see the rest of the pictures!!! This was one of the few times I knew I had really disappointing my dad.
My favorite memory with my dad was when he walked me down the isle on my Wedding day. Next to being there for the birth of my two kids, I missed my mom most during my engagement and Wedding. My dad did his best to make the day special and I was so proud as we walked the isle together.
During my pregnancy with Gideon, my dad discovered that he too had Multiple Myeloma, the same rare cancer that had taken the life of my mom 6 years earlier. This was a devastating time for my family, but my dad was a fighter.
He went to see specialists in Arkansas, had 2 stem cell transplants and after 4 years his counts were back to normal. During this time, Keith and I were preparing to go to Russia. In February 2002, a week before we were scheduled to depart for Russia, my dad was in Arkansas and got an weird, antibiotic resistant infection. We were in the middle of a 6 week long training in Virginia and not allowed to leave the campus. A former pilot, with millions of frequent flier miles, found out about my dad’s poor health and made arrangements for my family to fly to Arkansas to spend a long weekend with my dad. We left my dad very sick, returned to finish up training and begin our new lives in Russia. I called everyday to see if he was doing better, but there was no improvement. As we were leaving for the airport, I got a call that his fever broke and he was going to be fine!!! I still cry every time I think of the situation, the blessing of getting to spend the weekend with him and that his fever broke on the very day we left for Russia. God is sooo good!!!
Every child longs to hear that their parents are proud of them. My dad was not the most open person with his feelings. Often he would share with one sibling how proud he was of the other, but I could not remember a time he had told me that he was proud of me.
In March of 2005, we returned from Russia for our first Stateside Assignment or furlough. My dad was feeling great and I was loving getting to see him on a regular basis. He would stop by to visit, have dinner or just to say HI. In April, Keith and I spoke about our time in Russia at Emmanuel in Enid. I had shared how difficult the last 3 years had been, the many lessons that I had learned and how God had really used that time to grow and change me. After we finished, my dad hugged me and said, “I am so proud of you. I now understand why you do what you do.” 10 days later, he had a stroke and lost most of his ability to speak. Again…God is sooo good and his timing is perfect!!!
The night before his stroke in April 2005.
May 4, 2005…Emme was 2 days old.
In April of 2008, we returned home once again for what we had thought would be a 4 month Stateside. Due to some potentially significant delays in Gideon’s development, we were encouraged to stay in the states and take a leave of absence from the mission field. As I look back on the past two years, I can rejoice. Gid is doing fabulous, learning quickly and making mostly As. And we were able to spend the last 2 years making wonderful memories with my dad. Again…God’s timing is perfect and He knows our needs better than we do.
My dad passed away on Monday, February 15th after a long battle with cancer.
Dad, I am proud to be your daughter. Thank you for all you have taught me, given me and endured because of me!!! I love and miss you!!!