|Posted on September 3, 2015 at 3:30 PM|
Letter of Mistee, the daughter of Dr. Douglas McIntyre, co-founder of Homosexuals Anonymous:
July 16, 2015
Dear Friends and Loved Ones,
A week ago today, I was in the ICU with my father. I watched him struggle to breathe, to communicate, to rest. He indicated he was not in pain. He seemed more frustrated than anything--annoyed with the catheter, bothered that the nurse would not give him a big glass of cold water, exasperated at everyone having trouble understanding the whispers and partial thoughts escaping his mouth... There was still spark. He brightened when the nurses would call him "darling" or "sweetie". He tried to be funny--when they asked him in the morning, "how are you doing, Mr. McIntyre?", he forced out a breathy "50/50" in reply.
I looked at his frail, tired body, (he had lost over 100 pounds in the last year). I felt sadness and fear. Every time he twitched or flinched or moved I would ask "you ok, daddy?", and would try to help his comfort by shifting a pillow, or telling him to rest. I tried to speak for him, best I could, letting them know who he was, and what he might be needing. I went over his medical history with about 20 different doctors, fellows, interns, nurses, PCAs... I watched with fascination as they did the ultrasounds on his heart, lungs, and kidneys. I listened as carefully as I could to everything the doctors were saying about his condition, eavesdropped on their conversations with each other, and then tried to explain it all simply to dad, so he understood what was happening and the plan of care. Though he was diagnosed with heart and kidney failure, with fluid around his lungs and heart, on top of his liver issues and a rare form of cryptococcal infection throughout his body, it simply did not occur to me that those fleeting hours with him last Thursday were the last.
I have seen my father on the brink of death before. Eight years ago, I sat with him comatose, on a ventilator, for two weeks in the ICU only to have him wake up and first thing, write a joke on a whiteboard, "morphine is good"... And the next year, I waited anxiously while they opened his skull and placed a clip in his brain after having an aneurysm. When I saw him wake up in the recovery room with his shaved head, he joked "I look 20 years younger... no more gray!" He had numerous health issues battled and conquered in his younger days. and not to mention, his severe childhood trauma. For most of my life, I have known my dad was truly a walking, talking miracle. Deep within me, I guess I still believed my dad was invincible. And I knew--scratch that--I KNOW he still has a work to do.
My Father, Douglas Edward McIntyre, passed away. July 9th, 2015 at around 5:45 pm. He was 69 years young. He was surrounded by a group of caring, respectful, compassionate medical professionals at the Memorial Herrmann Hospital TSICU in the medical center, Houston. His heart stopped as they were in procedure to place an arterial line (after his heart did not respond to pressers, and the next step towards dialysis to remove the excess fluid). He had requested no life-saving measures be taken if his heart or lungs arrested. The medical team honored his wishes, made him comfortable, and talked me through everything that was happening.
I keep saying, it seems so strange that with all his medical issues, they would say that my father died of "heart failure"... That is just not sitting well with me at all. In my experience, there was no "failure" in that man's heart. His heart was so full, all the time, with love and compassion for those who are hurting. His actual heart stopped pumping, but the "heart" of him, I believe had such great success.
I am writing this letter to honor my father's wishes. In a conversation in the car, on one of our many trips to the doctor, I asked my dad what he wanted if anything were to happen. He said "no fuss". He told me that he wanted a cremation and for his ashes to go "home" (to my dad, home has always been Maine). In addition to my aunt and uncle, He gave me a list of five names--people to contact in case of... he told me they would know who to reach out to and what to do from there. He said he wanted people to write letters. Letters of how they have been touched by his ministry, stories of change and of hope, for the purpose of supporting and encouraging each other. He did not want his work to end.
So this is my letter. It is not of my recovery or my story (though I could write that as well), but of my understanding of and relationship with my Dad. I think he knew I would need to do this to begin healing. I hope that in it, you find a glimpse of my father--of his heart, his love for his family, and of his passion for the work he believed God called him to do.
At the age of fourteen, my father sat on his bed, holding a gun, and screamed at the ceiling, "God, I hate you. If you are real, why didn't you save me from this hell? I give you one day to pull me out or tomorrow I will kill myself!". ...within 24 hours, God changed my father's life. The change was both overnight AND another 15 year struggle for acceptance and understanding.
Many of you know my dad's story. He was not shy. He wrote two books (was writing a third), gave many lectures, is on web videos, and shared with hundreds personally in conversations and counseling sessions about his redemption and recovery. He took a childhood trauma most could not imagine or survive, a lifestyle ingrained in him from that trauma, a world of worthlessness and isolation... gave it to God and said, "Use it".
My father embarked on a near 40-year voyage with God at the helm. His teaching and counsel was intended to reach those souls who are hurting find acceptance, peace, change in direction, and the Love of God. My dad could speak of it, because he lived it. He claimed no authority. He spoke from experience. He shared with others because he could not help but to! and there was a passion about his work and his message that was undeniable. He listened. and he would call your bluff in a heartbeat. (*heartbeat*) Above all, my dad had a way of making each person he encountered feel accepted. He listened when God told him "that one is special"... He would seek those souls out, and offer hugs instead of handshakes.
When you google "never give up", I am surprised that a picture of my father doesn't pop up! More than anyone I have met, my dad had that concept down pat. Belief, determination, stubbornness, perseverance... are qualities my father possessed. I don't ever remember my father not trying. If one thing did not work, the next thing would...or the next thing. He was a dreamer and a schemer with the best of intentions--to follow God's leading and provide for his family. Most of his plans fell through or changed into something else. But the wind in my father's sails was the hope of helping people. That, I know, was my father's true ardor. If you are one of those touched by his ministry, you will agree.
My father was human, and in his humanness, he made choices and mistakes. There are many who did not understand why my dad did what he did, chose what he chose, fought what he fought, tried what he tried... He was written off, ex-communicated, ignored, harassed, ridiculed, and estranged. Those moments pained him greatly. But the tenacity with which he continued on... that alone, commanded respect. He made every choice in order to follow what he believed God was asking him to do. I am sure, there are some who feel left in the wake of his journey. To those people, I implore you to find forgiveness and compassion.
Someone asked me, while I was taking care of my dad the last few months, if there was anything on my father's "bucket list". I did not ask my dad. I am not sure why. I know he would have loved to travel to Scotland. other than that, I think my dad kind of checked off his list as he lived. Let’s see... if my dad were to suggest to you a bucket list based on his life lived, from what I have witnessed, this is what it may propose (in no particular order):
Eat homemade cinnamon rolls on a Sunday morning (dad remembered my great grandmother Ladd used to make them).
Live on a farm. Chase chickens.
Do donuts on a frozen lake.
Play in the snow.
Learn to sail a boat and love sailing your whole life.
Pilot a piper cub and love flying your whole life.
Be a DeeJay and read stories on the radio.
Meet and marry someone who believes in you (with the same amount of tenacity).
Live in a cottage, with a sloping floor, on a small island in New England.
Allow God to continually lead you home.
Work in the medical field (dad worked in respiratory therapy at some point).
Have three amazing children.
When your first girl is born, be so excited that you walk right out of the delivery room into the waiting room (with the baby!) to show her off--with nurses chasing you the whole way.
When your second baby girl is born sick, fly with her in a helicopter to the children's hospital. Stay with her. (She will be daddy's girl.)
When your son is born, be proud. Be so very proud.
Build a home.
Always bring home a live Christmas tree (cut it down yourself sometimes too).
Be a teacher.
If not a teacher, lead a group (pathfinders, boys or girl scouts, worship group, recovery group...)
Travel the east coast.
Visit "spook hill" in Florida--freak out your kids.
Picnic on the side of the road with fried chicken.
Eat oranges straight off the tree in Florida.
Take the kids to sesame place.
Play with, wrestle and tickle your kids on the living room floor. Let them climb on you. Laugh with them.
Spend Christmases in Maine with family.
When in Maine, ALWAYS eat an Amatos Italian sandwich at the Portland Headlight…
And when in Maine, make sure your New England accent reappears!
Make bang bellies every New Year's Eve! (make sure to tuck the kitchen towel in your pants for an apron)
Sing. Sing in harmony. Sing in fellowship. Sing in praise.
Choose recovery. Work recovery.
Start a recovery program that reaches thousands.
Care about people.
Invite people into your home to fellowship and share hope.
Proudly brag about your son's mechanical ability at such a young age (my brother took his bike apart completely and put it back together at 6).
Make popcorn the old fashioned (oil in a kettle) way, dump it into a brown paper bag, shake with tons of butter and salt...
Eat the popcorn with fruit while playing board games.
Take the family to see the Harlem globetrotters.
Grow a frito bandito mustache.
Play a guitar.
Play the harmonica.
Lead songs around a campfire.
Go camping. Sleep under the stars.
Take a bunch of pathfinder kids on a "snipe hunt" and get a kick out of it!
Teach your kids to make and fly kites.
Go hiking and bird watching.
Lead (or just march in) a drill team.
Make the drill team march in the King Frost Parade in the freezing cold!
Plan a "live nativity" and again, make the kids stand out in the cold!
Grow a "Kenny Rogers" beard from the 80's for your wife.
Take the family to Hershey Park.
Drive a big rig, or a bus, or a limo...
Travel the country in your truck.
Take many family trips to Maryland, Washington D.C., Maine, and New York.
Take the family to Atlantic City boardwalk. Eat boardwalk fries and saltwater taffy.
When your daughter is 7, and falls down the stairs and cuts her hand open on an old saw at the bottom, scoop her up and rush her to the hospital (she will see how scared and strong you are, and she will feel safe and loved by you).
Then, when she's 8, take your daughter to see the original motion picture Annie--make her fall in love with movies.
Let her sing to the Annie motion picture soundtrack record 8 million times (and buy her the cereal).
Take a troop to the first pathfinder camporee in Colorado.
Fellowship with other church friends and their families. Worship, study, eat, sing, play games...
Take your family to Perkins family restaurant.
Eat butter pecan ice cream. Claim it is your favorite. (I believe there was a strategy to this flavor dad loved--no one else liked it, so he would always get the whole 1/2 gallon!)
Make a star out of Christmas lights and surprise your wife--dance with her in the snow.
Take the family to see the ice capades.
Put a transmission in a car with bungee-cord and duct tape (it will run for another year and a half!)
Get home in time to attend your children's special events.
Give your kids a rose and a hug at special occasions (choir performance, band concerts, gymnastics shows, all graduations...).
Start a bus tour company, take old people everywhere.
Take your daughter on daddy-daughter dates. She will remember them. They will be important memories...
When your daughter is 10, take her to Philadelphia. Tour a battleship, let her photograph the liberty bell, and buy her a real philly cheesesteak from the vendor on the street. (No other cheesesteak will ever compare!)
Let her ride in the back of the limo you drive. Take her to Kentucky fried chicken, act the part of "chauffer" and treat her like a "star".
Take her to PG-13 movies, reminding her "don't tell your mother I let you see this". Buy her twizzlers with the popcorn.
Follow her into every girly store in the mall, even though you hate shopping. Stay near, but don't hover. Say yes, and pull out your wallet when she pouts just a little and it is a reasonable buy...
Take the family to Cadillac Mountain in Maine. Spend time with your mom.
Drive for and chaperone 8th grade trips for your daughters.
When your oldest daughter starts to drive, buy a fixer-upper, and fix it up with her high school boyfriends.
Teach driving etiquette class to your daughter's high school friends.
Bring home Hecky's subs, and real pizza, and egg foo young... (not at the same time, of course).
Love old-time music that makes you pat your knee and bob your head from side to side. (Bill Gaither will do).
Invent something. Build a business out of it.
Buy your daughter a 1969 Volvo for $100, put brakes in it and give it to her for high school graduation. She will think you are the coolest dad ever! (Then she will drive it away to college...)
Sell something. (For work or for charity--it builds self-confidence!) (Dad taught me to sell at a flea market over my summer break in college... said we could sell "sand in the desert"!)
Work with your daughter for the summer. Give her 15% commission so she can earn her way on a photo safari (even though you may not be able to pay the bills...).
When your daughter wants to bungee jump in New Zealand, say yes! (Mom said no, however, so I didn't jump.)
When your daughter brings a boy home from college, and he ends up staying for the summer instead of the week, put him to work and get him out of trouble when he has a car accident with no license. (He will see you as a father from that point on).
Take your family (including boyfriends) to Maine not knowing it's the last family trip there together.
When your daughter's decide to both get married in the same year, don't have a heart attack.
Cry at their weddings. Dance at their weddings.
Go fishing with your sons on Lake Michigan.
Help your children every time they move--from city to city or state to state.
Buy your wife Duncan donuts, cappuccino and a rose for all birthdays, anniversaries and significant holidays. (Sometimes just because it's Sunday...)
Fall in love with your first granddaughter. Take her to the zoo.
Help your son. Help your son again. Never give up on helping your son.
Buy apartment buildings. Discover you're too nice to be a landlord.
Drive to Missouri for the birth of your second granddaughter. Fall in love with her too.
Grow your ministry. Begin counseling people.
Drive a taxi cab.
Go to the movies. Theater hop.
When your daughter calls you for anything, try to fix it for her even when she is in another state.
Write a book.
Travel the country giving lectures and attending conferences.
Simply love beautiful, instrumental music that uplifts you.
Develop your ministry into something global.
Be awarded with a "doctorate of humanities" for your work in the ministry.
When your son-in-law is arrested, travel to help your daughter. Visit him in county. Treat him with compassion and acceptance even though you are angrier than angry. Sit with her in the FBI office as she learns the truth. Have no judgement, and offer only hope.
Babysit your two and a half year old granddaughter and survive it (backwards diapers still work!)
Cook fried potatoes. Eat fried potatoes. Love fried potatoes.
Fly to Missouri, pack a house and move your pregnant daughter and granddaughter to Texas in two days.
When your body goes into septic shock from severe pancreatitis and you end up on life support, wake up two weeks later and crack a joke.
Commit more of yourself to your ministry.
When your third granddaughter is born, fall in love with her, especially.
Love your daughter's homemade potato salad so much she makes it for you on most every special occasion just to make you happy.
Survive a brain aneurysm.
Commit even more of yourself to your ministry.
Write another book.
Travel to El Salvador. Reach people. Connect them and make a difference in their lives.
Welcome your daughter and granddaughters into your home. Give them a safe place to be for 2 years.
Make the most amazing puffed egg sandwiches late at night for your wife and daughter.
Take grave risks to reach out to Muslim peoples in order to share your experience and hope.
Travel to Kenya. Stay for 8 months. Minister to people. Teach others to share the hope and reach people who are hurting.
Counsel people on skype and via phone. Change lives.
Surrender fully to what God is asking you to do in His service.
Draw a picture of a clipper ship for your granddaughter. She will treasure it.
Go to Uganda. Rescue children off the streets. Start a school for boys. Educate and empower them.
Be brave enough to come home when you realize how sick you are. Allow your daughter to try to care for you.
Begin writing another book.
Minister to home health aides, EMTs, nurses, and other medical staff. Share your story. Encourage others.
Listen to music that moves your soul.
Let your granddaughter shop with you in the walmart store. Crazy-drive the scooter cart to make her laugh.
Play chess with your son-in-law. Get excited when you best him.
Sneak ice cream from the freezer and ignore your daughter when she catches you.
Impromptu waltz with your granddaughter in the living room, in the kitchen, in the hallway--wherever. She will blush and smile every time.
Snuggle with your youngest granddaughter and read stories. She’ll call you "teddybear grandpa” and you'll call her "boo-bear". She will never forget.
Discover Andes mint milkshakes at Arby's. Beg your daughter for one every day.
Watch your son-in-law play with his daughters. Be proud of him. Make a memory of that picture in your mind. Feel happy.
Tell your daughter your stories. Don’t leave anything out. She will feel privileged to have known you.
Okay, so maybe this wouldn't be your typical "bucket list", but then, my father was never "typical". "He marched to the tune of his own drum", my aunt said. I do believe, that all of these things my father lived, these good stories and memories I have, he would indeed, recommend to others. Pick a few to add to your list. I promise your life will feel a little fuller if you sail, or eat Amatos at the Portland Headlight, or make a child feel accepted and loved... I ask you to please take note of the blessings in your life. There is no blessing that is insignificant. You will need the memories of good and lovely things stored away. At the end of my father's life, there were good memories that would break through his confusion for a moment and bring him focus and a glimpse of joy. (I wish I had encouraged more "walking down memory lane" along with "walking" because the doctor said dad needed to move...)
In reality, though, his was a very full life peppered with disappointment, struggle and defeat. His trauma and abuse put him in a place to wish himself gone at age 14... but God had other plans for my dad. My dad was allowed the gift of a journey. And through his Journey, and a relationship with God, my dad was afforded a life he thought he could never have. He was blessed with a family and a purpose. He was needed and loved. He was used by God to reach others. Some would have a bucket list full of adventure and desires. My father wanted a simple life that felt free, and he wanted to be important to God's work in some way.
It is the culmination of the big and small, good and not so good, parts and pieces of a life that allows God opportunity to show off. We need the journey, the struggle, the aggravation of humanness to appreciate the freedom and peace God has to offer. He takes all these components of a life, and brings them together in a way that will lead straight back to His purpose. If we only afford Him the chance, He will use each of us to do great things. I cannot often say I willingly praise God for the bad things that have happened in my life. My father, though... he knew that praising God and claiming victory was the way to full surrender. And for my dad, full surrender is what saved his life over and over and over again. It gave him peace and hope. It allowed for understanding and growth. It showed him how to live in Christ and for Christ, and it extends beyond this moment into my life and yours... because with surrender comes acceptance and love and a God bigger than our comprehension. He is waiting to swoop in and carry us through a life of intent and service.
Whatever you are going through today, please know that the tide never stays into the shore--it always has an ebb and flow. A changing of the tides will continually take place in your life. I challenge you to turn your will and life over to the one who can "calm the sea".
My dad would tell you that the peace that comes will sustain you. He would tell you "reach out". He would tell you that you are accepted, and whole, and loved. No matter what happened before or what will happen next, you are safe in the "present"--which is the "gift" of God. Stay here. Keep God an ever-present presence in your life. ...and when you are ready, give it all back to God, the pain, the trauma, the loneliness, the shame--give it to God, and tell Him to use it. If my dad's life is any indication... well, just watch what God can do with yours!!!
My father's favorite texts were:
Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. NLT
Philemon 1:6 And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. NLT
Trust that God has a work in you. It has already begun, and He will be faithful to complete it. Then when you begin to have new understanding and experiences from faith and relationship with Christ, use it--put it into action, and show others the hope and healing you find. My father made a commitment to God. He longed to be a vessel, filled and used by the Savior. I have received texts, and emails and phone calls over the past week talking of how my dad touched people's lives. It is so great to know that God's promises are true. Thank you to each of you who have shared with me, and who are committed to continuing this legacy. God be with you in your service, and may He fill your cup to overflowing.
On this one week anniversary of my father's passing, I can tell you I am both overwhelmingly sad, and amazingly blessed. I had the honor of taking care of my dad. I had the privilege of truly knowing him. I miss him, and I am regretful that he could not finish so much of what he wanted to. So it is up to us... my friends, I want to hear from you. Whether an epistle like mine, or a short, sweet note, please write letters of encouragement and hope. Share your stories. No matter where you are at in your journey... bless others. Honor my dad's request, and help his legacy in acceptance and ministry carry on.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
With appreciation and love,
If you are in need, or know of someone who is... here are some resources:
Managing Director: Robert Gollwitzer
Living Free Ministry of New Jersey
Messiah Method Ministries
Founder: Dr. Marlin Lance
PFOX-parents and friends of ex-gays and gays
Sex Addicts Anonymous
COSA-codependents of sex addicts
My father's books can be found on Amazon.com
Hey God, You're Doing It Backwards by Doug M. 2003
Broken Chains by Dr. Douglas McIntyre 2012