“…The glory of children are their fathers” (Proverbs 17:6).
Daddy was not a man to draw a lot of attention to himself. We had to work to even get him to tell us stories about his life, and most of those stories revolved around his family and friends, not himself. His focus was usually on others. What could he learn about this person he was talking to? What could he do to encourage him? What could he do to make that person’s life better?
I recognize this trait in him much more now as I look back and remember his life. When I started piano lessons, he was there on the sofa, listening to me practice and at least claiming that he truly enjoyed what he heard. When he met up with an evangelist who ran an art and music camp, he and Mom took me there, set up a trailer a few miles away and commuted back and forth, working on the camp’s facilities while I enjoyed the instruction. We came home, he built me an easel with a black light and dimmer, bought me chalks, and traveled with me to different churches while I did “chalk talks.”
He subjected himself to being the model for an oil-painting portrait class that I wanted to take, drove me to early morning choir practices, made me learn to drive a car when I didn’t want to, financed my involvement in missions trips to Mexico and Europe, showed up with a microwave oven when our first child was born, and made a dream trip with our six children to the East Coast become a reality by paying for the plane tickets to get us there and back.
He prayed for us, tossed out ideas to our children that exploded into exciting projects (like a real log cabin made from hand-cut logs on his property), and sat in farmer’s market booths and encouraged our kids who were selling flowers and playing music for the shoppers. He followed the boys from rest home to rest home when they started playing their old-time music for the residents.
When he wasn’t bolstering the dreams and projects of his own family, he was helping behind the scenes, remodeling and repairing the church building, supporting mission projects, and visiting shut-ins.
He was a good judge of character. He saw what was best in a person, but wasn’t afraid to address what needed correction. He was a strong man with a quiet, rock-solid love for Jesus, and a fierce and loyal love for his family – a love that has always been a picture to me of my Heavenly Father’s faithful love. He wasn’t a perfect man. He fell more than once, but got back up, took hold of God’s forgiving grace, and moved forward, a humbler and stronger man.
Daddy faced his last years with the same cheerful determination that had characterized the rest of his life. Left almost completely dependent on others after a debilitating stroke, he faced his new life with grace and a good-humored perseverance that continued to teach and bless me. His solid trust in God’s love never weakened. One of my favorite memories of him will always be when he and my step-mom sang “Jesus Loves Me” for all our friends gathered on their property. Daddy couldn’t talk anymore, but he could still sing of his Lord who loved and saved him.
I thank God for Daddy and for the profound influence his life had, and continues to have, on my life and on the lives of all my children. His pride in us, his love for us, his encouragement of us, his belief in us, his prayers for us – have all built a solid foundation for any good that God, in His grace, will allow our family to accomplish for His glory.