Saturday, June 20, 2009

He would be 82 if he were still here...

He would have just celebrated his 55th wedding anniversary.

He would’ve been a pa-in-law for over 25 years now.

A grandpa for 23 years.

I ‘spect he’d have retired from the daily operation of his business a while back. But I also ‘spect he’d be one of those guys John Piper writes of who never retired from serving others and from ministry in & through the church.

I wonder if he would still be so dashingly handsome as he was at 20. Or 35. Or 47. (Don’t know beyond that, for 47 is as old as he ever was.). Somehow, I think he probably would be.

I also wonder where his travel bug would’ve taken him by now. When he left this world, he was planning a trip to Australia. Man, would that have been a fun one…

I wonder if he would still be teaching the 3-year-old Sunday School class. Somehow, I think he probably would be.

Here are some things I am quite certain would be true were he still here...

He would still be a big Bama football fan, as he was all 47 years of his life. I’m pretty sure he’d have gone to the Sugar Bowl this past January, and despite the complete thrashing the Tide received, he’d still have worn his Crimson wear proudly. And would still be wearing it proudly now; his love of & support of his team never depended on a win-loss record (a concept that should be re-discovered in our day...)

Having that said, he would also be a Gator fan since his oldest grandchild will graduate from UF this August. And he would be an FSU fan since grandson #2 attended there. And he’d definitely be an Ole Miss fan since his 3rd grandson attends there. In fact, cancel the Sugar Bowl attendance; he might well have joined his younger son and youngest grandson in Dallas for the Cotton Bowl. He would’ve worn some sort of “Ole Miss Grandpa” shirt and/or hat, and would’ve been as pumped about how the game unfolded as his son & grandson were. And, he already be asking for some Miss State wear & tickets since grandchild #4—the older granddaughter—will be attending there this Fall. Oh, no doubt he’d still love the Tide, but because he would love his grandkids more, he’d wear the UM, UM, MSU, & FSU shirts proudly. (He’d also be a USM fan since his younger son taught there for a while, and a Miami fan since his older son graduated from there).

To him—and this lesson seems to be all-too-frequently lost these days (including in the community in which I live)—a relationship would be FAR more important than a college sports allegiance. He was the master of cheering for his team without denigrating yours, and without ridiculing your choice of team. Another concept that seems lost in our society--and in the community in which I live--these days.

Relatedly, he would be one of those grandpas that the grandkids adore and can’t seem to spend enough time around. They—the grandkids—would doubtless know the lyrics to several Hank Williams songs (Hank Sr., of course). They’d also know some silly jokes. And how to laugh...including how to laugh at themselves (a lost art, that). And how to love a woman. And how to catch & clean a fish. And how to be a friend. And they’d know that it’s very, very difficult to beat Grandpa at ping pong or pool or tennis. And they would absolutely know that whatever else came their way, there would always be this very funny, handsome, doting Grandpa who loved them very intensely.

I’m absolutely certain that he’d still love a good joke. And even a good practical joke. His people…our people…are like that. We love to laugh. Even at ourselves when we’re the object of the joke.

There is no doubt that his daughters-in-law would just love and cherish him. And he would just be crazy in love with both of them.

Instead, we’re all left just to imagine…and to wonder…and to ask the question that will not be answered this side of glory: WHY?

Today, if you see a smile on my face or see me chuckle at the most random time, know that I’m imagining…and wondering…and remembering that I got more excellent daddying in 15 ½ years than many get in a lifetime. You may even see a tear now & then. I’ll be OK.

To all men reading (& especially to the three grandsons): It absolutely is possible to be a masculine, manly man without becoming a boorish lout & punk toward ladies and other men. The only time in my 15 ½ years with him that I EVER saw him with a look of cold fury on his face was when this punk (a grown man, but still a punk) threatened and made nasty, evil comments toward a woman he loved. I will never have to wonder what it means to “love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her”, for I lived with an example of that for the first 15 ½ years of my life. Perhaps I’ll get it right one day myself.

To all women reading (& especially to the two granddaughters): There ARE still such men around. Men who will cherish you…and honor you…and love you sacrificially…who will wake up in the morning thinking about how to show you that love today…who will adore & lovingly lead your children…who will inspire dreams of greatness in your sons…and in your church…and in your city and country. There are sadly not many men like that around, but they’re still around.

Don’t settle for today’s punkish, loser-ish, cheap imitation of masculinity, nor for the wimpy retreat from it that is so popular in our culture. And by the way, this guy I’m describing would also have fit the “wow, he’s hot!” criteria as well. Again, there are such men who are the total package. Wait for one of those…the others aren’t worth the effort & hassle & heartache they will surely bring into your life.

Meanwhile, it’s Fathers’ Day. Once again, as I have for nearly 21 years now since becoming a father, I look into the mirror of my memories and ask how I’m doing at it. And once again, I am reminded that I fall WAAAAY short of his example, and more, of the biblical ideal of Scripture. And once again, I ask for—and receive—God’s forgiveness & mercy toward my own efforts, and His grace & power to start anew & to do better.

And I imagine Dad smiling at Jim and me & saying “I’m proud of you son.”

And I press on.

Happy Fathers’ Day! And thanks Dad. See you later. Mom, Jim & I sure have missed you these past 34 ½ years. Can’t wait for you to meet your daughters-in-law and your grandchildren. Oh, and there’s this great guy Mom married last Fall…you would be very pleased with him and how he cherishes Mom. You’ll love them all!

I will always love you & will continue to miss you hard until you show me your mansion & introduce me to some of the saints of the ages.

With grateful love,


oldfatslow said...

The best testimony to a father's greatness is how much his children miss him. I know I sure miss mine.

Stephanie said...

wow. i've said this before, but i sure wish i would have known your dad. hope he and j have 'found' one another in heaven.

thanks for sharing...