Latricia Thomas’s father had been sick for many years, his daughter and the rest of his family, were savoring their last days together with him, when something incredible happened. A deer approached their home and did something for the old man, giving him the courage he needed to say goodbye to his family. Read Latricia’s eulogy and recollection of this remarkable experience below.
“When my daddy was a hunter. Every year, on opening weekend of bow season, you could find him in a tree, in his camo at sunrise. As the years went by, he traded his gun for a camera and instead taught his kids and grandkids how to enjoy the hobby he loved. Last week, two days before he died, Daddy met his buck. It was gorgeous, a 10 point with six spikes on one side and four on the other. He came to the window where Daddy was sitting in his favorite chair and looked in, right at him.
A few minutes later, he was on the porch, literally nudging the handle to try and get in. Daddy stood up, in a rare surge of energy for those final days, opened the door and held his hand out. And that deer, which he’d never seen before, relaxed under his hand and let my Daddy pet him. A wild animal who, for just a few minutes, was as tame as a dog raised from a puppy. My daddy looked at him, and he looked at Daddy and Daddy simply said, “I’m ready.”
“After eight years of fighting a disease that wouldn’t leave him alone, he was ready. After watching three kids and nine grandkids come into this world, he was ready. After coming face-to-face with an animal he had waited on, for years, he was ready. Daddy sat back down in his chair as me and my brother and sister went outside to see the buck. He nuzzled each one of us, putting his head on our shoulder and licking our faces. The whole time, he never startled or jerked.”
“Daddy died two days later, in the house his Papaw built with his own two hands and Daddy restored and called the Villa, holding the hands of his children and loving companion Nancy. When the hospice nurse came, he mentioned how many deer we had in the area. I got out the pictures of “Daddy’s buck” to show him our incredible encounter. And he looked at the first picture and said, “I just saw that same buck walking a circle around this house.”
“He had come, one more time, to take Daddy home. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to witness a miracle. But seeing my Daddy, free from fear, in the days where we said goodbye is something I’ll always be grateful for.”
“Daddy’s last trip on his motorcycle Gravey was to Iowa, to the farm and baseball field where the movie Field of Dreams was filmed. I think he knew it would be his last road trip. He took the picture you see on the prayer cards tonight, walking into the corn that surrounds the fields. In the movie, the father of Kevin Costner’s character who returns to play baseball with his son one more time asks, “Is this heaven?” And his son replies, “It’s Iowa.”
“Iowa?” His father says, “I could have sworn this was heaven.”
“Is there a heaven?” his son asks.
“Oh yeah,” he replies. “It’s the place where dreams come true.”
“Here’s to those sweet dreams of long-awaited reunions, peaceful road trips, endless energy and that smile that none of us will ever forget.
I love you, Daddy.”
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