I recently received an email from my cousin. His email was in regards to my father who passed to the other side in 2014.When I received his email sharing his admiration for the kind of person my dad was, I knew I needed to write this post in tribute to my dad. My father was not a perfect person. He had significant flaws just like most of us. My father was not incredibly wealthy nor did he ever earn a college diploma. However, my father was a true and wonderful friend and he epitomized the guy who would give a stranger the shirt off of his back. I remember at my dad’s funeral talking to one of his friends. It occurred to me that I didn’t know how he and my dad had become friends. He explained that my dad had come to his house one day because he was interested in leasing some land from him. At the moment my dad arrived, this man was in the middle of trying to replace a broken toilet without much knowledge of what he needed to do. With my mom waiting outside in the car (and not aware of what was going on inside), my dad offered to help. Two hours later, my dad had replaced his new friend’s toilet and had made arrangements to lease his land. My dad never felt worthy to enter a church and so he rarely did. However, shortly after his second wife died, he kindly accepted the invitation to let two missionaries live with him. The arrangement was to last for one year but was extended to two. During my dad’s final months, he made sure he went to see a few of those missionaries that had lived with him and whom he loved like sons. When the church congregation that he was a part of decided to build a small home for a man who was living in a cave, my dad consistently showed up to help – more consistently than other members of his congregation. When they cut wood for widows and struggling families, my dad was there. When the small community of Roundup, where he lived, flooded a few years ago, my dad was out helping ranchers get their cattle to higher ground at the risk of not being able to get home to his own “high ground”. Often were the times that he called family members to make arrangements to meet everyone for ice cream. He was always more interested in playing with my grandchildren – his great grandchildren than eating the ice cream! What I wouldn’t give to have a video of all of the moments he gleefully played with them. Less than a year before he died of cancer, he happened to be at my house when my annual chocolate order of approximately 2000 lbs. arrived earlier than anticipated. My dad called me to let me know. The truck left my order in front of my garage and the temperature was below freezing. Explaining to my dad that I would rush home as quickly as possible because I needed to get that chocolate to a warmer place before the freezing temperatures impaired it – I quickly headed for home. When I arrived, my dad had single handedly moved all 2000# of my chocolate from outside of my garage up a flight of 8 stairs to my living room. Just days before his passing, his branch president (church leader) came to see my dad at the hospital. None of us realized his time was so short. His branch president told him what a wonderful man he was. He explained that although they rarely saw him within the walls of their chapel, he knew that if ever the congregation had a need, he knew he could rely on my dad. He said, “If I asked you right now to get out of that bed to come and help me I know you would do it, wouldn’t you?” My dad, embarrassed by the remarks, admitted that he would. “That, my friend, is the reason I consider you to be one of the finest men I know.” were the words his church leader exclaimed. Thinking back on those words, I am reminded that our religion, our faith is not demonstrated within the walls of a church – they are demonstrated by the way we treat and serve our fellow man. If ever there was a true Christian; it was my dad – a man who never felt worthy to step inside a church building but who willingly served his friends, family and neighbors until the day of his final breath. I love you dad! Thank you for your wonderful example!
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