gina akao


The Four-year Anniversary of My Dad’s Death: A Reflection on His Fondness for Star Trek

March 14, 2020 will be the four-year anniversary of my dad’s passing. My dad, Henry Akao, was a “trekie.” I remember watching episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation with him when I was a kid.

One of my dad’s all-time favorite things to say to me was, “Study hard; get an A; become an astronaut.” We laughed every time he said it. It was his way of saying, “shoot for the stars.” I always did.

My dad was a structural engineer by trade, but the science of Star Trek may have intrigued him. The exploration. The idea of the space age was big back then.

I laughed when I saw that my son, Jacob Henry, has an elf ear. A baby Vulcan, perhaps? No, he’s too emotional. He gets that from me.

Jacob Henry loves exploring, for sure. Here’s a picture of him discovering the vast new spaces of our yard.

I’ve recently been enjoying episodes of Picard, a show that entertains the idea of Star Trek’s famous captain coming out of retirement to embark on one last adventure.

My dad was a hard worker, and to some extent I think retirement bored him, too. Even when he had Alzheimer’s, he insisted on going to The World of Concrete conferences to keep up with the skills of his trade.

Later in life we discovered that my dad had a talent we didn’t know about: he liked to sing.

He and my mom would sing in Colin Ross concerts every now and then. He always remembered the words.

Henry Akao at Colin Ross Concert in March 2013

Even though it has been four years, I miss my dad.

I still grieve.

When I feel overcome by emotion, I take time to do a guided-meditation that I learned during a Mindfulness Stress-Reduction class I took when Dad was first put on hospice.

One of the sentences from the meditation that sticks out in my mind is, “During the meditation, different thoughts may arise. Invite an investigative quality.”

I’m still investigating my grief.

And I believe that some day when Jesus comes again, I’ll see my dad again, and tell him all about my discoveries.

A Tribute to My Dad on the Anniversary of His Death

Today is the three-year anniversary of the death of my dad. In life, my dad taught me many things, but in death, he continues to teach me, although he is physically no longer with us.

This year, the lesson is mindfulness. Last year, I failed to completely unplug from technology on March 14th, which disrupted the way I wished to honor my dad on the anniversary of his death and left me reeling, enraged, and struggling with unforgiveness for the rest of the year. At first I blamed others for violating such an important day to me. If they only knew what I had been through and what my family had endured after my dad suffered from Alzheimer’s for 12 years, they would not be bugging me via PM on Facebook.

Now I realize I have control over what I take into my life, and what I choose NOT to allow in.

This year, I have decided to completely unplug from technology on March 14th. My phone is in airplane mode. My Kindles are silenced. My email is set to an away message. I won’t be checking Facebook. I especially won’t be responding to private messages. My laptops are off. This very blog post is prescheduled.

Being in the present moment has always been hard for me. I often find myself worried about the future, about work, and about how others have treated me in the past. The Bible tells us not to worry. I’m still working on that.

This year mindfulness is especially important because I have my beautiful baby boy, Jacob Henry, who is 9 months old. Henry was my father’s name.

One thing that I have observed about Little Jacob Henry is that he lives in the present. If he falls and bonks his head, he cries. And then he gets over it.

He eats mindfully. Every new food and texture is an opportunity to learn and explore. He nurses. He clicks his tongue and smacks his lips when he’s done.

He naps. He plays. He drools. He crawls. He giggles. He sighs deeply when he’s bored.

The similarities between babies and the elderly before they part this earth are notable. Jacob Henry wears diapers. So did my dad before he died. Jacob Henry eats mushy foods. So did my dad. Jacob Henry is almost completely reliant on me and my husband as his caregivers. So it was with my dad and my mom, who was an amazing caregiver to him. My dad was a man of few words, but when he spoke it counted. So it is with Jacob Henry. Jacob occasionally says “mama and dada.”

In Jacob Henry is a little bit of my dad, Henry. I wouldn’t have it any other way. They never got to meet each other in life, but they sure are alike.

Today I’ve set the intention to do one thing: breathe. Breath is a gift from God. Now that I have seen my dad take his last breath and have also seen my son take his first breath, the breath has even more significance to me.

Henry Akao and Gina
Jacob Henry Decker, 9 months old, and Gina Decker

Prayer Journal: Day 24

Day 24

God is our refuge and strength,

A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,

Even though the Earth be removed.

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though its waters roar and be troubled,

Though the mountains shake with its swelling. – Psalm 46: 2-3

Sometimes we have a lot of fear, and when we have fear, we need to pray and ask God for faith.

Things won’t go well in this world but His love will protect us. Amen.

Prayer Journal: Day 23

Day 23

In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

There are many bad things going on in the world right now. There are over 200,000 deaths in the USA due to COVID-19 as of 9/23/20.

People are grieving. The Lord knows we are suffering and sends his Holy Spirit to help and comfort us.

The Holy Spirit tells us what is to come so that we won’t be troubled. Jesus has already overcome so we can live and live abundantly. That is a promise.

Prayer Journal: Day 22

Day 22

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. – Psalm 118:8

When we trust in men, we’re disappointed, angry, and frustrated. It only adds to our anxiety because anything that replaces trust in the Lord is an idol.

We need to turn our eyes upon Jesus and confess the error of our ways and He will forgive us and protect us.

He knows more than we do, like a father does. He will direct us if we trust Him.

Prayer Journal: Day 21

Day 21

If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give over to His commandments and keep His statutes, I will put none of the disasters on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you. – Exodus 15:26

The Lord tells us not to buy or sell on the Sabbath. Why? Is it so we devote one day only to Him?

We are so good at breaking and forgetting His commandments, and yet, we pray for protection after making the wrong choices. We need to pray for forgiveness. 

We deserve to rest on the Sabbath so that we can restore our lives both spiritually and physically. Each day is a new day, a new opportunity to start over.

Prayer Journal: Day 20

Day 20

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. – Heb. 13:8

It’s comforting to know that Jesus never changes. He always loves us and He always saves us.

Sometimes the people in our lives change, for better or for worse. They come and go from our lives. Former co-workers, friends, and even family members fall out of our lives and get replaced by other people. 

But Jesus never gets replaced. He is always in us and available when we need to talk.

Prayer Journal: Day 19

Day 19

The Lord your God in your midst, The mighty one, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17

We don’t have to worry and lose sleep, because Jesus has already saved us. The hard work has been done. We just have to accept it and relax into His loving arms. This is easier said than done, but there are many things to be thankful for every day.

Prayer Journal: Day 18

Day 18

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:25

Jesus promises us that everything will be okay. Whatever is going on in the world, whatever happens, He always has our back. He won’t let us fall and we can rely on Him always. 

That is an incredible blessing and one we often forget. Yet, He always reminds us. We come to Him and confess our worries, and He will give us rest. Amen.

Prayer Journal: Day 17

Day 17

Pray without ceasing. – 1 Thess. 5:17

There are many things that worry me day and night. Most of them are about resentments from the past that trigger me still in the present.

I pray that God will set me free of them. There will always be things that trigger me, and when that happens, I need to pray.

Prayer isn’t just before every meal and before my daily devotionals. Jesus asks us to pray all of the time.

That’s because all throughout the day and night the devil attacks us. He wants us not to forgive our trespasses. He wants us to stay hateful, resentful, angry, and sinning. He wants us to live a life of fear. Jesus sets us right and gives us peace. We need to quiet the devil’s voice in our thoughts and come to the foot of the cross. 

Surrender all your thoughts to Jesus and He will save you. Amen.

Prayer Journal: Day 16

Day 16

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8: 38, 39

We wrestle with “principalities and powers” (We all have our personal demons), not with people.

It has taken me a while to understand that the bad clients I had been working with are like evil spirits and the devil attacking me. They are all caught up in the mass deception that the devil is so good at ensnaring us in. They have attacked me in the past because I love the Lord and the devil is trying to make me angry, resentful, untrusting, envious, and afraid. It is all poison. 

Jesus separates us and shields us from these spirits if we ask Him. He loves us and protects us, no matter what.

Prayer Journal: Day 15

Day 15

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify me. – Psalm 50:15

We are living in troubled times. During this time of COVID-19 closures that began in my town on March 16, 2020, many cities are in lockdown throughout the world. 

High schools are closed. Non-essential businesses are closed. Churches are closed. 

Some essential businesses like the nonprofit where my husband works are not closed, but many of his employees are avoiding coming into the office and instead work directly with those they serve. The death toll in Italy has exceeded China’s. The morgues in northern Italy are full. It’s a scary time.

Jesus asks us to call upon Him when we are afraid and He will help us. I need to trust that He will always be there for us. He will never “leave you nor forsake you.” We need to meditate on His law and follow it. Amen.

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