When I asked him what he was most afraid of when facing heart surgery, my husband said, "It's not death. If I die, I'll be in heaven. And if I live, I live."
He paused and gathered words to express deep emotion. "My biggest concern is for you and the kids. Mostly the kids, because I know what it's like to live without a dad at their age."
His dad died in 1992 at the age of 68. A sudden, massive heart attack. Paul was only 26--younger than our oldest son is now. Gone was Paul's earthly hero. No more conversations. No more watching the Orioles together. No more showing off his kids--and oh, how Dad loved his grandchildren. No parent left to lean on in hard times. No one to call when the plumbing acted up. No dinners to have together or restaurant tabs to fight over. No Christmases, Easters, or Thanksgivings with his dad at the table.
Paul didn't want his own children to experience adulthood without their father. That was more troubling to him, I believe, than leaving me a widow. We had the conversation a few years ago about remarriage if one of us should die. We've given each other our blessing to do that. We only had that conversation once. Once is enough.
One of the things that was most attractive to me about Paul when I met him, and first started getting to know him, was how fatherly he was. He wasn't looking for a girlfriend. He was looking for someone to create a family with. In fact, when he proposed to me, he asked, "Will you be my wife and the mother of my children?" (Unbeknownst to him, those were the exact words my father used to propose to my mother in 1961 !) In his heart, Paul was already desiring children. He is such a natural with babies, energetic with toddlers, creative with kids, wise with teens, and happily helpful to our adult children.
He didn't want death to deprive them of what he has missed terribly for almost 30 years. His prayer was to live to be there for his kids and to enjoy the fun of being a grandfather someday.