Arriving home from school that afternoon, I was greeted at the door with the message that my grandfather had died. Shaken I entered the house, and as I passed through the kitchen, I overheard my father relaying the dreadful news to his brother. The reality of what had happened came crashing down on me, and though I loved my grandpa, the pain that filled my heart was for my father; never had I experienced anything like the scene being played in our home that day.
When the news had been reported to those who needed to know, Dad went into the bedroom, lay across the bed and wept for a man he loved and admired more than anyone else in the world. I wanted so much to be able to do or say something that would ease his pain, but I was lost, and in my frustration I closed the door to my room and finally released the confusion and hurt that had now overpowered me.
From that moment on I was never to take my dad for granted, and a respect for his life and the sacrifices he made for his family were forever etched in my heart. Sometimes those we live closest to are the ones we seem to appreciate and support the least. I have always known my dad to be an exceptionally talented preacher and speaker, and I do appreciate the accomplishments he has labored so hard to achieve.
I recall the earliest pursuit of his education in Thomasville; too young to appreciate what he was trying to do at the tiny junior college with the peculiar name, I still sensed a special distinction about his life. Everything he did was top quality, and he never produced anything without total commitment. I remember hearing people remark what a natural preacher and teacher he was, but they will probably never know the study, work, and hours that went into producing such a “natural success.”
A large part of the life of a preacher is justifiably sacrificed to the flock, and the demands of church and circumstance limit his time with family. No, I don’t recall any hunting or fishing trips but I do recall a sense of strength and security obtained through the knowledge that my dad loved me and wanted the best for my life. Our finest times together were to come later, and I have immensely enjoyed every opportunity to be with him. I will always be indebted to him for the greatest gift a dad could have given to his children-the consistency with which he has served God and his total accountableness to the calling he received as a young teenager.
Yes, I shared my dad with the public, but as I look back and see the hours of counseling and concern that helped so many, I would not change a thing. I love him more than I could ever express, and I thank him for the most intelligent thing he ever did-he married a winner! Did I ever tell you about my mother?
I love you, Dad. We miss you and we will see you again one day. Until then know that I could not have had a more loving father and friend and I thank God for the wonderful heritage you have left.