(I wrote this on February 28 in honor of my father-in-law, Dee Dunagan, not knowing he would peacefully pass away by the end of the same day).
Soon my two daughters will be bringing our two new grandbabies into the world. A boy is due end of April, a baby girl mid-August. I’m in that season of life when new grandbabies are soon arriving around the time that their great grandfather will be leaving us.
The groaning of death and new birth intermingled is not lost on this baby boomer, soon to be sixty. It is the dance of my generation: such sweet joy of anticipation of new life coupled with the pain of saying goodbye to the father-in-law I first met when I was only twenty-one and falling in love with his son.
New life beginning while old life ending has been happening for thousands of years, yet that doesn’t make it any easier for the goodbye that is coming so soon.
Dee Dunagan will be joining the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. Parkinson’s has been taking him from us the past few years. Hospice has now been called and soon he will enter Glory from the beautiful home he built on a lake in Nebraska two decades ago.
His beloved wife, Roselan, will be by his side when he goes Home. Early this morning, she whispered, “I love you!” and he opened his eyes and whispered a slight smile back.
Parents of four boys—my Rick is their second—Dee and Roselan Dunagan’s love story is what romance movies are made of . . . only better.
They met in high school in Albion, a quiet town in Nebraska. After graduating high school, Dee soon got called to Japan to serve in the army during the Korean War. That very smart Nebraska man asked Roselan to marry him before he left and he wrote her every day during their two years apart. Roselan was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse and started planning their wedding so they could marry as soon as he returned home.
While traveling home from the war to his soon-to-be-bride, Dee had debilitating sea sickness, and so his custom-tailored suit from Tokyo no longer fit him for their wedding, celebrated just ten days after his return.
Now married almost sixty-five years, their death-do-us-part marriage has been like a beacon of hope to their family. They love their family fiercely and have covered us with watchful prayer for decades.
Forever grateful for the great-grandfather of our grandbabies, Dee Dunagan has truly lived out 2 Timothy 4:6–8:
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
I love you, Dad. Thank you for raising such an amazing son who will carry on your legacy of prayer and fierce love for his family.