What better time to sit down, and put to paper a few things I’d like for you to know. The first is that I’m very proud to be your son. I can’t imagine having a better father. I feel honored, privileged to be your son, and feel like I’ve been given the greatest gift in having you as the man who raised me. There are those who might say I worship the ground you walk on, but you and I know that isn’t the truth. I’ll admit that we’re close, that I love you whole-heartedly, that I’m a fan. I think you’re admirable in so many ways, and my respect for you is great. After all, to a very large degree, I wouldn’t be who I am without you, and I know that without your love and guidance I wouldn’t be nearly as good as I am. I don’t mean that as a brag, but just in that I’m surprised that I turned out so well. My one regret is that I’ve failed to be a better son. I thank God for your example, for your consistent example, of what it is to live a life where one is kind, and honest, and truthful, and loving, and hard-working. You never were and aren’t the kind to talk about love openly; you don’t say the words, “I love you” a lot, but you have said them. It wouldn’t have mattered to me if you had never said them because you showed me so many times, in so many ways.
You’re not perfect. I know that’s a shock to you, and right here is where you’d say something smart-alec, but it’s true. You weren’t the perfect father, but you were and are an extraordinary father. We both know that I required a lot of your time and attention. I was not an easy child to raise. I was so hard-headed, so stubborn, so insistent, on having and doing things my own way that the only way to reach me was through the seat of my pants. Yes, you used the belt on my butt when I needed it, and thank God that you took the “Word of God” literally instead of figuratively. I know the world we live in now frowns on ‘corporal punishment,’ but thank you for doing what was right. When I needed the rod of discipline, you applied it, and I will always be grateful that you did so.
Of course, the rod wasn’t the only thing you used. I remember the lectures. I remember them every one word for word simply because I heard them so many times. I can’t count the number of times when I wished you would have just given me the rod instead of the lecture, but-and I can’t believe I’m saying this-I thank God for them, too. My daugther hasn’t come to that point, yet, but hopefully one day she’ll feel the same way. She’s where I used to be. Seated at the table, rolling her eyes, staring out the window, doing everything she possibly can to let me know that she’s not listening, but I know she is, and I know that what I’m saying is getting through to her, slowly but surely, because I heard your every word, and they got through to me. I’m so glad they did.
Where you shined though was in your example, in the way you lived and live your life. In the way you worked so hard every year to raise a garden. No matter the weather, you battled every year to make it the best that it could be, and we always got something out of it. The way you took care of our home, our yard, our cars; how you always tried so hard to take care of what you had no matter what it was. All those years you worked on the freight docks, all those years working overnight, then coming home and working around the house and yard, too. Yet, you always managed to make time for us kids. I remember our wrestling matches when we were little, and it was only after I’d grown much older that I realized you’d let me win. How did you ever find the time to do everything you did? To work so hard, to spend time with us kids, to help other people?
There were and are many things about you that I love. I loved going to church with you, standing next to you, and listening to you as you sang the old hymns. “The Old Rugged Cross,” “Amazing Grace,” “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus” and so many others. I loved hearing you sing, and I wasn’t the only one. More than one person told me how wonderful they felt hearing you sing. Then, to this very day, I love to hear you pray. When you pray your relationship with our Father in heaven is so obvious, so full of love. You’ve used the same Bible, your ‘Scofield,’ since 1968. I remember when we had it recovered because it’s pages were falling out. Now they’re falling out again. Looking through your Bible and seeing all the notes, the under-lined passages, sort of showed me how your relationship with God and your commitment to Jesus Christ developed and evolved. What a wonderful witness!
And, Dad, that’s what I truly want to thank you the most for. I don’t know that I would have ever found Jesus without you. I don’t know that I would have ever learned who my Father in heaven is without you. At first, I wanted to be like you, and still do, but then as I grew older I learned that you wanted to be like Him. I saw how much you loved Him, but even more how much He loved you. Thank you for not only showing me how to love God, but for showing me how much He loves me. Of all the many wonderful things you’ve done that is the most wonderful.
I love you, Dad