Each day holds the promise of possibilities and choices that set the stage to live, really live in that moment. When we waste the gift of a new day squandering it on living for self, being negative or unkind to others, or taking the gift for granted, we leave no lasting legacy behind when we are gone. And one day, each one of us will be gone. This holds more truth for me today on Father’s Day than ever before.
My Dad LIVED. He was exuberant and full of life. I met him September 21st of 1962 when we met face to face after I was born. I said goodbye on January 1st of this year when he met Jesus face to face in heaven. My Dad lived eighty-four years and was ready to leave his earthly home when Alzheimer’s disease robbed his mind and much of his personality. His body wasted and in the end was just a shell of the man I knew as Dad. And yet even in the Memory Care facility, he had an infectious personality where many were drawn to him. He still sang concerts for the staff and residents, taught them high levels of Math, and told silly jokes. They experienced just a taste of what I had known.
From my earliest memories, my Dad or Daddy as I referred to him used to get on his hands and knees and give me “horsey rides”. I would squeal in anticipation knowing he would buck me off then tickle me. He made me feel like a princess when I would model whatever I was wearing. I then remember in my school age years how he would make a game of numbers and Math questions giving me the joy of learning. I cherished the times he gave my Mom a much needed break from four kids when he would take us to the high school gym where he worked. We would play for hours on the trampoline or shoot baskets. During my teenage years, my Dad and I sang together. I relished this unique gift with him as my brothers found their niche playing and watching sports with him. I am sure I didn’t appreciate at the time how much our musical connection meant to him. I would get irritated when he wanted to be at the venue HOURS early, and give him dirty looks when his timing was off or he forgot words. One time during the era of background accompaniment tapes, he forgot his words during the song, started making some up, and when it was my turn to sing in answer to what he was supposed to be singing, I stopped the church service and said, “What are you doing?” Ah, the gracelessness of a fifteen year old daughter. Thank God I matured and learned to treasure what I had taken for granted. As I grew older, my Dad was always there for handing out wisdom and financial advice. He also could fix just about anything and helped me out countless times. He was larger than life to me and remained my hero even to the very end.
There are many other memories I could recount that bring a smile to my face. My Dad taught me values that have been instilled deep within me. I have a picture of him holding me on his lap at church when I was two years old. He loved God and introduced me to Him at a young age as I learned stories in the Bible and the the importance of the Word and being involved in a church. This love for God continued his entire life. Even when Alzheimer’s caused a mental fog, he still loved going to church, singing the songs, and reveling in the teaching. He took a step of leadership as patriarch of the family and got re-baptized at age 83.
As I sit in my hotel room alone on this first Father’s Day without my Dad thinking back of the legacy he left, not just for me, but for my Mom and brothers, extended family, students, baseball players, friends, colleagues, choir members, and anyone he came into contact with, the Scripture verse Proverbs 10:7 comes to mind. The NIV 84 version says, “The memory of the righteous will be a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.” How can I be sad? How can I be anything but blessed? My Dad did not squander his time on earth. As a righteous man, he invested in me and so many others and lived a life of purpose and possibilities.
Thank you Dad. I honor you today and look forward to the day we are face to face again. May I remember to live a righteous and exuberant life like you did, so as to leave a legacy and a blessing for those behind me.