19 June, 2011
Remembering My Dad
It's Father's Day, and my kids and wife have made today great. My wife has left to participate in a training conference for the next few days, Daniel is playing a game with Hunter and Ashley is sick on the couch. I've been sitting here thinking, and my thoughts have drifted that of my own father. Dads been gone now for 47 years but the memories are still fresh in my mind and I still find myself missing him. I was only 5 years old when he left this life, and many have been quick to tell me that I cannot possibly remember all that much of him, but I do. I have chosen to hold the few years I had with him close to my heart and not let them slip away. I wish some times that I could have one day to spend with him, to hear his wisdom for a little while and to tell him just how those few years we had together have impacted my life. But that can never be, so I chose today to share with you, my readers about my dad.
There is so much I could say, and limiting it here will be difficult, but for just a moment I want to honor my dad. I was blessed to have been able to spend a lot of time with my dad. He was a Pastor, and he took me with him quite often when he worked on the church, visited people and so on. There where times he took me to a baby sitter, A wonderful woman name May and her husband Red. They were really awesome folks too, and I remember many times going with dad to see Red at work. Red was a painter, so work was where ever his truck took him to paint that day. We often sat on the tailgate of Red's truck eating a sandwich and drinking a Coke, while dad and Red talked about the church and the goodness of the Lord. I remember those conversations so vividly in my mind that I can almost hear their voices. It taught me the importance of friendship and sharing with others both our burdens and our times of rejoicing.
Some of my fondest memories are those of being with my dad and the ladies of the church making fried pies at the church, which we sold as a fund raiser for the church. The ladies spoiled me rotten, making me the official taste tester. And of course, any of the pies that were broken had to be eaten. Somehow there always seemed to be a broken coconut pie... My favorite! After the pies were all made and bagged and put into our car and dad and I would set out to sell the pies. This is where dad's life had a huge impact on me. We lived in East Saint Louis, and one of our regular stops to sell our pies was at the car wash. Now remember, this was about 1963. That is important for a couple of reasons. One, we did not have automated car washes. That was done by hand. The men who worked there were mostly black men. For those of you who are younger, let tell you, this was pre-civil rights times, and blacks were treated as "lessor" people in those days. They could not drink from the same water fountains or eat in restaurants with white folks. But my dad treated these men the same as any other men. I remember sitting with these men and having pie and a Coke and laughing and telling stories. I recall them sharing their burdens with dad, and him praying for them and hugging their necks. Dad showed me that people are people and color does not matter. I thank you dad for this lesson you taught me, long before that was acceptable in our society.
I know it may seem hard to believe, but I can still remember hearing dad preach. Dad talked kind of slow, with a southern Missouri drawl. Sometimes I can still hear him. He sometimes played an old beat up guitar and I remember him singing his favorite hymn, which is one of mine as well... "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine." I really can't remember him ever singing it during a service, but I do remember just he and I at the church and him sitting on the altar, strumming that guitar and singing in that southern drawl. Can't hardly explain it to you, but I remember it well. You gave me a love for music...especially singing about the Lord.
Dad had a big chair in our house that was HIS chair that sat near the door directly across from the TV. That chair had wide arms, and I would sit on the arm of that chair, next to dad, sharing some popcorn as we watched wrestling and roller derby every Saturday night. The living room was filled from wall to wall with mom, dad and all of us kids every Saturday. I swear I can hear mom crunching ice (she always loved to eat crushed ice) and dad whooping and hollering at the TV as if the people could actually hear him. Here dad instilled in me the importance of family time together... Something I still treasure today.
I remember as dad's health grew worse and times when all he could eat was baby food. Dad made a game of and often had me try some of it with him. He never let on to me just how sick he was. It was not until some of his final days that I was told. Mom never seemed to be able to tell me, and I remember when they snuck me into the hospital room. Back then kids were just not allowed to visit patients but they did sneak me in. I remember hiding under the bed when the nurse came in. It was there that my dad tried to explain to me that he was soon to go see Jesus, and that it was important that I serve God so that we would see each other again one day. I really did not understand... But I have always remembered his words. Dad... You taught me about the hope we have for life eternal in Christ. I got pretty screwed up along the way... But God is faithful, and He saved me and today, I'm doing my best to carry on with what you planted in me. Our time was brief dad, but you made a huge impact in my life. I miss you far more with each and every passing year. But we will meet again dad. Until then dad. Until then. I love you!