There is not a prayer I remember praying before this one. It is a prayer, which as a child, I frequently prayed with tears. I prayed it with my mother, with my sisters, and often alone in my bed. I even remember my nephew accidently praying it at the dinner table, while the one being prayed for was sitting right beside him: “Dear God, thank you for this food and please help Pop to be saved.” “Please help Pop to what?” came the response from my dad as everyone sat there shocked that this routine family prayer was revealed.

I loved my dad. I did not realize how much until now. Whatever he may have been to others, he was my hero.

One week ago today, I sat beside my dad without much worry. I got him some Advil to break the fever (he was using Naproxin—his beloved cure for everything). His fever broke and I left his little “Popcorn” room at the west end of the house where he has lived for a few years. I was not worried and neither was he.

You see, a little less than a year ago, my family and I moved into my mother and father’s house. After my sister’s death, my mother had a massive aneurysm and stroke that left her a hemiplegic and replaced my very strong willed, beautiful, and talented mom with a disabled child-like mother who wants to do nothing but watch the same movies over and over and drive through my childhood neighborhood every day. My dad was doing his best to cope with the situation, but his grief was too much. Angie’s (my sister) suicide in 2004 drove him back to drinking. This was a lifestyle that he had left in the early nineties (primarily due to the influence of my mother). At this time, my mother was too weak and grief-stricken herself. Within two years, my mother’s brain exploded—quite literally. It was at this time, in 2006, that I decided to leave my pastoring job at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco Texas (where I had been for six years) to be with my family. I knew that my mother, father, and two surviving sisters needed me.

Fast-forward to one year ago July 17th. My father kept my mother at home. After all, she was only 56 when she had her aneurysm and we did not feel right about putting her in a nursing home. My niece was taking her to Quail Creek (my childhood neighborhood), which was her Saturday routine. At this time, my mother’s right leg worked well enough for my father to help get her into a wheelchair, and then, into the car. As they were driving along, someone turned into their lane and crashed into my mother’s side of the car. This crushed her only good leg. After getting out of the hospital a couple of months later, my father discovered that he could not move her or change her anymore due to her leg. She needed someone that could deadlift her (and she has gained quite a bit of weight). That is when I started living there and eventually moved my family into my parents home.

Since Angie’s death, my dad received seven DUI citations. At the time I moved in, my dad was looking at ten years in prison (at least). In November of last year, my father and I put together all his bank account info, mortgage details, and everything that I needed to take care of things while he was in prison. I drove him up to the courthouse just before Thanksgiving to say goodbye and drop him off. However, something happened that none of us could believe, even his lawyer—the judge sympathized with his life and pain and let him go. He told him that the sentence was deferred, but if he got picked up one more time, he was going straight to prison.

I was excited about this (big understatement)! I figured that my dad and I had many good years together. I figured that my family could bring life back to his home. Most importantly, I saw this as a possible movement of God to fulfill my oldest prayer. I have spent the last year sitting with my dad in his “Popcorn room” every chance I got. My dad never spoke much and when he did, it was usually not very nice. But I thought I would talk to him about what I was teaching, share my struggles, attempt to let him invest in my life, and represent the Lord to him.

I had never really experienced having a father. Growing up, he was never around. He was either at work or at the bar. We never did much together, but on the few occasions we did, I remember virtually all of the details, since the moments were so precious to me. I did not know anything about his life. Every detail I received, came through my mother. She did her best to defend my dad by saying, “At least he is not as mean as his father was.” My dad was a mystery to me.

Over the last year, nothing much changed. Though I sat for hours with him in his room, there was not any fruitful conversation. When I was truly brave, I would attempt to have spiritual conversations with him. He would listen, but not respond.

Though many would disagree with me about this (and I understand), I took him to the bar and often picked him up. At least this way he was not driving. I would also try to have a beer with him and watch the game. But he was never really comfortable with this, and it never produced any good conversations.

However, I still had hope. I continued to cling to the thought that God was going to turn him around, someway. . .somehow. He had the hardest heart I ever knew. But if God could change Paul, he could change my dad.

Let me be clear here: I don’t blame my dad for the escapes he took. I don’t blame him for getting drunk three or four nights a week. After all, we could not help but count someone who made it through such tragedy without making any moral compromises (which my dad did in more than one way) as being truly heroic. What he had been through over the last decade would cause even the most committed Christian to fall apart.

All of this being said, my dad was not a happy man.

About a month ago I gave my dad a little booklet called “Try Praying” that I got at church. It was a booklet that attempts to get people who don’t practice much spirituality introduced to Jesus in a unique way. I was scared to give it to him, but I acted very non-threatening when I did. “I got this book from church. They were giving them away. You can have it.” My dad has made many professions of faith. Every time I would ask him if he trusted Christ, he would say “yes” and then not say anything else. I just wanted him to show more Christian commitment, either in his life or in his words. To my surprise, I went in his room the next day and he was reading the booklet. It was almost an embarrassing moment, for both of us. This happened twice. He did not get through much of it from what I can tell, but he was reading it.

DadOver the last month, he was actually kinda’ nice. At least he tried to be. He acted as if he was happy. He was still going to the bar and doing his thing, but he did seem to be in a good mood for the first time in a very long time. A week ago from last Monday, he went fishing here in Oklahoma and sent pics to me of the fish he caught. It was a great catch. In fact, though he does not express it in the picture (typical of my dad), it was the biggest smallmouth bass he had ever caught.

He came home a week ago yesterday. I noticed he was not feeling very well. The next day, he was running a temperature. This went on for three days. He was talking out of his head and being very funny (same thing I do when I have a fever). However, on Monday, his fever was no longer present, but he was still talking funny. I did not think too much about this at first. However, over the next couple of days his fever became worse and he labored at breathing. I encouraged him, again and again, to go to the doctor, but he is one of those guys who will simply not consider such a move as what a viable, manly man would consider doing. He was so stubborn. Finally, last Tuesday night he said he would go, if his condition was not better in the morning. The next morning, he was worse. In fact, it was so bad that his brother and I had to get him dressed and put him in my mother’s wheelchair to get him to the hospital. I called my sisters, and we all met at Mercy.

The doctors immediately realized he had pneumonia. They put him in ICU. They gave him a heavy dose of antibiotics and I left Wed night thinking all was well. The last thing I remember him saying was that he had to watch the OU game on Thursday night, so they had better have the game tuned in on the TV. I slept at home that night, something I deeply regret.

The next morning the nurse called and said that he had taken a very bad turn and that they had to put him in a coma. I could not believe it. I called my sisters and we all rushed back up to the hospital. From here it was nothing but bad news. The pneumonia had infected his blood and his kidneys were not working. They had him on the maximum amount of meds to keep his heart rate down and his blood pressure up. The doctor told us that night that modern medicine had nothing more to offer him. Moreover, my dad had less than a five percent chance of living. I stayed there all night, apologizing for leaving the night before, reading him Scripture, and talking about how much I loved him.

The next day the doctors told us it was over. His organs had shut down and it was time to let him go. He died at 10:45 on Friday morning. I sat at the end of his bed, my sister (Kristie) to the right, and my younger sister (Lindsey) crawled up in his bed and laid beside him. I watched as his heart rate went lower and lower over and eventually flat-lined.

My father died at the age of 66.

I don’t know why the Lord did not give us some last minutes. I don’t know what the Lord did in the last minutes (or if he needed to do anything at all). My sister Lindsey is sure he is in heaven. I have to believe that he is, or I will go insane. But my earliest prayer was never answered in any definitive way. I am glad he read the book and I am glad he was happy in his last days, but the Lord has left me with something very crushing. I wish he would have done more.

John Hannah, my historic theology prof, once said, “There will be three things we are surprised about in heaven: 1) who is there that we did not think would be there, 2) who is not there that we thought would be there, and 3) that you are there.” I suppose I take some comfort in this.

Now I sit at his house with my mother, who does not understand his death and just wants to watch the television. He left no will and I am having to go through so much legal maneuvering just to get access to his bank account and pay some of his bills. We are unsure what to do with my mother. She is just too young for a nursing home, but I don’t know how to take care of her without my dad’s help (as little as it may have been).

I miss you dad. I love you so much. I am so sorry for all your pain and suffering. I pray that the arms of Jesus are giving you comfort and that you are with Angie.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    45 replies to "On the Death of My Father – William Michael Patton: 1947-2013"

    • Kim

      Living in this world, no doubt, is a struggle. I’m sorry for your loss and I too hope your dad is struggle free.

    • Luke

      Lord, have mercy!

    • Chuck Miller

      Michael, I was saddened to read of your Dad’s death. It all happened so suddenly I am sure it is difficult to wrap your head around it. Please take comfort in that you and your family are in the prayers of the many people you have touched over the years.

    • Susanne

      I am so sorry for this loss. My heart hurts for you.

    • Terri

      Gosh Michael,

      You’ve been through a lot. The first thing that came to my mind with the tears from my heart for you and your family was “wow, God must really trust him”. I hope that doesn’t sound flip or stupid even. I’m really sorry for your grief.

    • Jason Pratt

      Well, perhaps Augustine will turn out to be right after all, even though he later thought he wouldn’t be:

      “But the goodness of God does not permit the accomplishment of this end [the final hopeless corruption of good by sin], but so orders all things that fall away that they may exist where their existence is most suitable, until in the order of their movements [i.e. by their own free will] they return to that [i.e. God’s righteousness] from which they fell away.” (De Mor, 2,7,9)

      All things would include your father, too. Pray for his soul, and hope and trust in God. Even Augustine did that, once upon a time, when he first converted to Christianity. For God in the fullness of His deity was pleased to reconcile all things to Himself through the blood of His cross, and (as St. Paul also said) if we are reconciled to God through the blood of His Son, how much moreso shall we be saved into His life!

      We’re Christians, and we should hope in our Lord for our loved ones. Total scope certainly includes your Dad. Total victory certainly includes your Dad. Lower him down to Christ through the roof of your prayers, as the older Fathers used to teach, and take courage and give thanks.

      God strengthen you and your family, and thank you for your work here under such stress.


    • Indeed, Lord have mercy! There is so much we don’t know and understand, especially at death. But thank God for His ever extended mercy and grace, at these times we don’t need so much to know, as to just abide with God In Christ! The Lord knows our loved-ones better, oh so much better than we do! We are blessed to leave them there ~ And one eternal day, we and all the Redeemed in the Family of God, will rest & abide… Come Lord Jesus!

      PS.. I was born in 1949, just two years after WMP, indeed this life is short, but thank God eternal life is Christ, and this fellowship has already begun for the Christian!

    • William

      Dear Michael,
      thank you for all you do with P&P and Credo House. I personally really appreciate you.
      I extend my deepest sympathies to you at this most difficult time, I could never know what you must be feeling right now. It is hard when so much is placed on your shoulders to give the right answers to family as it were and you are not sure, I get that from my loved ones a lot. From what you have said, it sounds like your father had a really rotten time as have you, and that he turned to drink in order to deal with this hardship as my dad does. I have prayed that same prayer my entire life also. My papa never has been good at communicating with others and was mostly absent during my life, but recently I read something he wrote on Amazon as a book review. I could not believe how much he connected with the author. It was a revelation. It is amazing how for whatever reason some people who seem to not be able to communicate with others that well, who seem aloof, even with their own children, love them so deeply.
      From what you have said, I am sure he is in heaven, with Jesus and Angie, free from the difficulty he has experienced here on earth.
      My prayers are with you and your family.

    • LauraC

      Wow. Thank you for your story. When you are a Christian struggling (as we all do) with issues in this world, it helps to hear real-life stories that are not all miracles and “happiness.” You must rest in the confidence that God worked in your Dad’s life (esp. through you), and His will has been done. What exactly that means may never be known to you, but, at the least, you have a testimony that MANY people (like myself) need to hear. How I wish I heard more like yours, as well as the miracle stories that most of my church body shares with each other. This is real life in a fallen world BUT with HOPE that that fallen world cannot provide. Thank you.

    • Tim Kimberley

      Thank you for your transparency Michael. Come Lord Jesus

    • theo

      Thanks for sharing. I did not know much of your story. Just that you were at Stonebriar, for which I will always be grateful, then you resurfaced in Oklahoma of all places, for which I am abundantly grateful! Family. What problems family can bring. However, one thing I am certain of. Your father had to be exceedingly proud of the man you turned out to be. I am sure he knew what you stood for and was too proud to tell you that you were right. I am sure when we get to heaven he will be there and this time he will run up and tell you how happy he is with all you did for him and for others. May he rest in peace.

    • pcg

      I’m so sorry, Michael. Thank you for sharing that incredibly intimate moment; may God grant you peace.

    • Irene

      I’m very sorry, Michael.
      No prayers, not the prayers of little children or the prayers of grieving men, are ever wasted.

      Or the prayer of some online Catholic lady:

      For Mr.Patton,

      May angels guide you and bring you into paradise: and may all the martyrs come forth to welcome you home; and may they lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem. May the angel chorus sing to welcome you, and like Lazarus, forgotten and poor, you shall have everlasting rest.

    • Irene

      P.S. That is a great picture. And I know so special.

    • Brother Michael CMP, Please accept my sincere condolences in the loss of your father, and the challenges you and your family will endure. It’s not easy being the “chosen one” who has to deal with loose ends, trust me I know. A while back you helped me out with Flo, and she has since passed. Deb and I have been doing the “responsible” thing with dysfunctional family members, broken lives, and this thing called sin… My heart goes out to you Bro. If there is anything you need, don’t hesitate to reach out. You were there for me, let me return the favor if your need be. Love ya man! Be strong, and always, you and your family are in my prayers.

    • Greg [Tiribulus]

      I’m going to break my promise and this will be the only time. This is a very extenuating circumstance.

      I don’t know how you managed it, but you wrote this piece so as to deprive me of having any big answers right now Micheal. That takes some doing as you know. I always have something to say. I can only say that your big mouthed brother over here loves you and with everything I am I wish I could do or say something to help you through this yet another chapter of pain. You do continue daily in my prayers. If I were to offer anything at all it would be to warn of the devil’s attempts to get you alone now. Keep close to those in the body you can lean on for a while. Those who will hold you before the Father’s throne. They’ll need you one day too and boy will you ever be up to the task..

    • Susan

      Sigh. Dear Michael, I’m in tears. I hated the thought when my dad died that I could have spent more loving time with him as he declined into dementia. Then he died and there was no more time.
      You did better than me. You did it right. Michael. I’m blessed to know of that time you spent with your dad at the end. I think you have good reason to hope that as your dad read that book the Lord mercifully grabbed his attention, then he had peace and was ready to die. You will feel the pain…do cry.

      For what it’s worth, I think you should put your mom in a home nearby. If she wasn’t even aware of your dad’s death I don’t think it will be so hard for her (maybe just hard for you and your sister at first). She might even like it better there. It’s OK to do that, Michael. You would not be shortchanging her. You would not be dishonoring her.
      I will pray for you about that decision.

      Wish I could give you a big hug in person. So sorry 🙁

    • Dave Z

      Michael, although we have not met except for email and phone, I have to tell you, I love you, my brother, and my heart goes out to you at this news.

      I’m praying for strength and wisdom for you, as you navigate your way through all the details that have to be resolved in the coming weeks and months.

      I’m so glad you have your faith to see you through this. We do not mourn as those who have no hope. And please remember that we do have hope. Faith does not look the same for all of us, your father may have had more of it than you realize.

      Let your heart be at peace about your dad.

    • William Huget

      This reminds me of my journey with my grandfather (indifferent) and my father (alcoholic/mental illness). The Father heart of God is immense and His grace vast. Genesis 18:25 “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”.

    • Leslie Jebaraj

      Dear Michael:

      I don’t know what to say really. But wanted to express my deepest respect for your commitment to Christ and your family. My Mother too died suddenly, though we knew she was very ill. I still haven’t recovered from the loss. So, I understand your pain some.

      Hugs, my brother.

    • GEM

      We will pray that God’s peace will be ever present. Now, and in the future as you care for your mother.

      Thank you for your ministry.

    • cherylu


      I want you to know that you are in my thoughts and in my prayers.


    • P.Paulraj

      Sad. I believe as your dad read the book you gave, he must have regretted for his past and sins and whispered (or thought of) a prayer, giving his heart to Jesus. I am sure that would have been enough at that point of time for God to accept him as a ‘saved’ person. We don’t know at what point God would consider the saved/unsaved line? Our point of view may be different from God’s. God is always ready to accept us without any performance from our part, but with just repentance and seeking. In fact he is eagerly waiting. As you mentioned, “There will be surprises in heaven 1) Those I didn’t expect may be there 2) Those I expected may not be there 3) I will be there”

    • Truth unites... And divides

      Dear Michael,

      I’m so very sorry for your loss,. Thank you so much for sharing the pain of your trials and suffering. It is a comfort and encouragement to us weaker vessels.

    • a.

      so very sorry.

      the LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped

    • Cory C

      God bless you and yours, Michael. I’m so sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. May he rest peacefully.

    • Paul Copan

      My dear Michael,

      I was very moved as I read this touching story of your father. It is a powerful reminder of what truly matters. May God comfort and strengthen you in the midst of pain and loss, and may he give you much wisdom in the midst of the new challenges you now face as you grieve.

    • Wolf PAul

      So sorry for your loss, in so many different ways. May God comfort you.

    • Michael T.


      I am sorry for you loss. You will be in my prayers.

    • Flyaway

      Thank you for sharing so eloquently. It’s good to know that other believers have questions and regrets. When we were going through a rough time with our parents we prayed for wisdom and then tried to do what we thought best. It all turned out to be messy with stress, nothing working out smoothly, conflict, etc. But we had to believe that God gave us wisdom because we asked. Sometimes I would go over in my mind what we could have done. When friends were having trouble with elderly parents I shared what I had learned. I think that through our experience we were able to help others. We walk by faith and sometimes we can only see the path directly in front of us and not down the road.

    • Matt

      Michael, praying for you and your family. I can’t imagine.

    • jfred

      Praying for you brother

    • Leif

      Hi Michael,

      Please accept my deepest condolences at this time.

      You don’t know me, I’m from Canada and have been following your blog for a few years. Often times I have been brought to tears (as I have been again tonight).

      I wish to thank you for being open and vulnerable with strangers. I have drawn much encouragement from your trials, sufferings, joys, and victories, as has my mother, who has suffered with bipolar disorder since before it was known as such.

      I am almost 40, grew up in a broken home, my father left me when young. I visited him and tried to reach out to him when I was 25, he moved and has avoided me ever since. You have the blessing of having known your dad. I probably won’t know about his death until after the event.

      My mother struggled with her depression for 25 years in an Arminian-Pelagian-legalistic “Christian” environment for 25 years. It is only in the last few years that we have discovered the grace of God in Jesus, and the hope that we have when we place our trust in his Person and work.

      When my mother would go into depression, it was as if she descended into a deep black hole, from which she could not recover, in complete despair. Understanding that we are accepted in the Beloved, and secure in him because of what HE has done, and not what we do, has made a huge difference in her life. She still experiences periods of depression, but has the assurance that she is secure in what has been done for her, and not what she does for God. Praise the Lord for his grace.

      I am sorry to burden you at this time, but felt the need to share. We live in a broken world, with broken people and broken relationships. These cause much sorrow, but we have faith that our God is greater than these things.

      We will pray for you, that the peace and comfort of Christ’s love would be with you at this time.

    • Tom

      We have assurance of our Faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior when our troubles push us to Him. Resulting in knowing His comfort as our strength to do I Thes 4:18
      As we are with His Body who is serving Him before expecting Him to serve to us. I pray you will not be satisfied with any thing else.

    • tom

      your editing shows you belive in christianity as theory not reality

    • tom
      I think I believe, but what does believe actually mean? Am I believing now? What might that look like? And saved. Saved in some meaningful sense now, or just saved after I die? Paul, after all, says a little later on in the Bible that what matters isn’t any outward religious thing we do (circumcision, for instance) but a transformed life, a life that’s being saved. Is my life being transformed by my belief? (Or perhaps it’s not the belief that’s transforming me but Jesus himself, in some sort of direct, mystical sense.) Wow! How?
      (I believe this shows the reality of Christianity that gives comfort and that which is only theory)

    • mbaker

      Michael,So sorry for your loss. i still miss my dad after 12 years. he was an alcoholic and many of my family thought he was a bad person because of it. But he he always championed us girls, he had four. I remember the last time my one sister and I took him to the hospital. The nurses and docs kept coming in and asking him how he felt. He didn’t complain. What he did was brag on each of our accomplishments to the point of embarassment almost.
      But one of the nurses whom I mentioned that too, said to me she wished she had been able to have a father like that.
      So Michael, always remember that with your own kids that they need someone to champion them when everyone else is down on them. It all matters.

      Love and blessings to you my friend and brother.

    • Jason Engwer

      Michael Patton,

      You and your family are in my prayers.

      My father died last year. He became a Christian shortly before his death. I want to mention a few things that I hope you and others will find helpful.

      In the closing weeks of my father’s life, when I was discussing evidence of my father’s salvation with my mother, she suggested that I was underestimating the changes in his life. I reconsidered his circumstances (the difficulties involved in living with an advanced form of cancer, for example) and thought about how immature I had been in my earliest years as a Christian. That gave me more of an appreciation for the progress I saw in my father’s life. If your father was reading Christian literature that he wouldn’t have read in the past, and he had a change in disposition for the better in his closing days, those are significant improvements. A person’s history, the amount of time he’s been a Christian, and his physical health are significant mitigating factors that we need to keep in mind. Don’t just think of what good things your father could have done that he didn’t. Also consider what good he did that he didn’t have to (like reading the Christian booklet you gave him and changing his disposition for the better).

      During the closing days of my father’s life, when he didn’t seem to have much awareness of his surroundings, we continued to talk to him. I don’t know how much he heard. But I often come across accounts of people in such situations who were able to hear what was said in their presence. The fact that you read scripture to your father while he was in his coma is important.

    • Jason Engwer

      I recommend that you put together a lot of records, if you haven’t already, concerning your father’s salvation (what discussions you had with him, how he seemed to respond, evidence of progress in his life, what other people have told you about their impressions concerning his salvation, etc.). You should set aside a copy of your post at the beginning of this thread, for example, since it contains so many relevant details written so shortly after the events. You may think, so soon after the events, that you’ll be able to remember the details later. Maybe you will. But don’t risk it. Put together some extensive records of the relevant details. Ask other people for any information they might have. Putting together that sort of record can help you with future questions and doubts, and it may be helpful to other people. It would also be a tribute to your father and a way of carrying on his legacy to good effect.

    • Daniel Costales

      I hate death.
      Thank you for your ministry to me.
      So sorry.

    • Ben Thorp

      Michael – sorry I didn’t read this post earlier. I will be thinking and praying for you and your family. I cannot imagine what you have already been through, let alone what you are going through now.

      Thank you for sharing this time with us, many of us (myself included) thousands of miles away.


    • Zach S.


      I am proud and blessed to know you (at least electronically). And I thank you for everything you have done and sacrificed. May God’s blessings abound upon you.


    • Win

      I am the one dying in my family. In my last hospital stay i organized will, ins, pension and care documents for young adult children so they would not bear the burden alone. Now I have less to worry about. The children’s father won’t talk to them or support them during this time because he believes in total submission of wife and children and we used to sneeze without permission. Thank God we are divorced and I approach death in charge of ny own affairs and happy with my dear children, happy that I have provided for them. That was my only concern. It is never too early to prepare to die.

      The doctor wonders at my peace but it comes from escaping patriarchy. I am so happy, so happy for a few brief years of normalcy before I go. Let people escape what opprsses them the most, whatever that may be.

    • Will

      Michael – I don’t know you at all…just stumbled across this blog while searching for something else. I am so sorry for your loss…there is nothing else to say. I lost my Dad years ago but still think about him a lot. I pray God and God’s People will comfort you at this very difficult time.

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