Here's the rest of Mary's story in her own profound words:
"Although we knew he was dying, it was very important to me that he never be left alone, so I stayed with him day and night with relief given by family members. Having the time alone with him, I was able to reflect on my life and all the lessons he had taught me. All of a sudden, it became very clear that he had been preparing me all my life for this moment -- and that he knew I would be able to accept it when the time came.
"Now, as I sit by his bedside waiting for him to pass, I reflect back on all those years that he helped me grow to be the woman I am today. He instilled in me hard work, integrity, passion to do the things you love and the will to embrace those around you with a caring attitude.
"And now, as I am ready to 'let him go,' I still find myself asking him, 'Daddy, why do you have to die this way?' And then I realize it all comes back to me full circle as I am comforted by hearing him say, 'That's just nature.'
"Little did I know he was teaching me then how to prepare for the true-life experiences I would be dealing with today. I have accepted the fact that God gives you the gift of life on earth for a reason -- to grow and enrich your life, to share that enrichment with others and, when the end of life comes, to leave it with a unique lasting legacy.
"I now fully accept and simply state in my daddy's words: 'That's just nature.' "
Thanks, Mary, for sharing your heartfelt words. I'm holding the vision they can be of comfort to other families who are struggling with their "first" Father's Day. Or those like the Allowatt and Painter families -- and many others -- who are undergoing extreme challenges with their loved ones.
And so goes the circle of life.
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications company specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or e-mailed to livelifefu...@arnoldagency.com.