“I miss them, too, Dear,” I heard my Beloved say out of the blue this morning. He was busy getting shoes out of his closet in the bathroom. I was checking emails. “Who do you miss, Love?” I asked. “My Grandma, my mother, Dad. I miss them all a lot.” Yeah. Sometimes it just hits us unannounced.
That’s what happened yesterday as I was driving to the doctor to get the bandage off my knee from surgery two days prior. What made me suddenly tear up and think of Dad? Then it came to me. I had been missing him lately. No, it’s not anywhere close to his birthday or the anniversary of when he passed away. So I decided to think about what I remembered about him. Dad was a relational being. He was certainly not interested in things. Dad loved people. A country boy from East Texas, he was happy coming home to a decent homemade meal, pulling on a simple brown jumpsuit and reading a book. Whenever he went out, he would engage the waitress, the checker, the yard man, any and everyone in a brief conversation, complete with a smile and a warm handshake. In that brief encounter, Dad would have learned where the person was from, whether he liked his job or not, and quite possibly if the person did attend or was a church member somewhere. “Where do you worship?” Dad would ask, with a broad smile and genuine interest. “Well, then, could I interest you in reading the book of John in the Bible? You got a Bible, by the way? It’s the perfect book for getting started in your relationship with the Lord.”
Usually, folks have someone in their family they have a gripe about. Dad never had an unkind word for anyone in his large extended family, or even in his wife’s family! Not one. Truth be told, he made it his choice to get along with whomever he came in contact . It didn’t matter, he once told me, whether the person liked him or not. What mattered, he said, was that that person was treated with the utmost respect. Life is too short to be ugly with one another, he was known to say. Besides, I may need them to be nice back to me some time in the future, he said with his ever-widening grin.
Years ago, Dad and I had an occasion to travel on a trip together. He began to relate the story of how the Lord brought him into a right relationship with Him. He was in the Air Force in WWII, stationed over in England, and he wasn’t walking close with his Lord. That all changed after his close encounter with death, in which his plane was seriously shot up and he had to make a decision as to whether to keep flying or command all of his crew and he to bail out. Unsure at that very moment as to what to do, he saw in the front windshield of the cockpit of his plane in large letters the word “JUMP”. He commanded his crew to jump out and he and all of his crew’s lives were spared. Following that harrowing experience, he decided to get into reading the Bible more diligently. He began reading the Proverbs and over the course of his early years, he decided to live as best as he knew how from the teachings of the Proverbs. I believe he did. For instance, he never bought anything except a house on credit. He never borrowed from someone he could not pay back as soon as possible. He paid cash for every vehicle he purchased in his life.
Over the course of time Dad grew to appreciate the long term value of prayer. He and mom were in various prayer groups connected to their church through the years. Many years ago, about the time his family began having annual reunions, he made a list of family folks who asked Dad to pray for a child or other family member to trust in Jesus as their personal Savior, or who just needed some prayer. His list of family members grew as others learned of his dedication to praying for the family. Oh, how he loved his family. Every single one of them. Many of them received a phone call or letter at least once a month, as they lived all over the world. I believe some of our family are children of the Lord because of his continuous prayers.
I miss Dad’s jokes. I miss Dad’s glorious laugh and good – natured humor; his honesty; his counsel; our sharing of books and current events. I loved coming over and plopping on the couch and just visiting with my mom and dad. For hours. I loved their counsel and their advice. Their love for one another. Once Dad knew deep down that Mom was going to be fine at the retirement community they moved in to only a few months before his health took a nose dive, he began to slip away into eternity. Though his last couple of years were quite hard for him and the rest of us, I don’t doubt for a moment that the Lord was using every ounce of the love Dad had for everyone who came by to see him for His Lord’s eternal glory. He just loved. People. I don’t always do so well with some folks. I get terribly impatient when corrected or when someone is late or hasn’t responded in a reasonable amount of time to my email or phone message. But lately, I’ve been remembering my dad and how patient he was with everyone and what a high value he put on his relationship with folks and I’ve grown a bit more patient and less critical, most of the time. Remembering Dad I want to treat others with as much love and respect as he did. In honor of him. Love you, Dad. Always.