Last night, July 29, 2010, we lost my wife’s father to lung cancer. I wish I could say I knew him better, but distance and language stood in the way of us learning more about each other. I have come to learn that the details of our life experiences are less important to what we chose to do with our history. The life forged ahead, against adversity or in joyous triumph, on the bleeding edge of now is infinitely more vibrant than the historical record of then. He was a good man.
He survived the horror and devastation of a war savaged South Korea and from those experiences embraced a life style of hard work, honesty and the importance of family. Decades after retiring from serving as an Air Force security officer his record of integrity remains legendary. In post war Korea a person is his position, with little effort and even less scruples, could greatly advance their standard of living. In a time when he could have, he didn’t, maybe even should have but wouldn’t the man stood on his word without waver. After being cheated in businesses he took work where it was found and spent many years in foreign lands using his back, arms and talents helping to build infrastructure and industry. In thirty years he never took an injury but consumed into his lungs the asbestos which killed him at age 72.
I married his daughter while he was in Nigeria and have always regretted not waiting for him to return first. I received his forgiveness for doing so and the outpouring of love and acceptance from my new family has flowed from him, but we really should have waited. Knowing him as I do now he deserved more respect than we gave him. As the song goes, “Regrets, I have a few” and that is one of mine. He asked me to love his daughter, to care for her and protect her and I have tried to live up to his expectations.
We had the honor of spending last summer with him and my mother-in-law when they visited us for our daughter's graduation. With my Army career moving us all over the world and the difficulty in travel visas from Korea we had not seen each other since my daughter was an infant. Over three months we talked, worked and played together and my appreciation for the man grew greatly. My wife and I shared our faith in Jesus Christ with him and he accepted salvation before returning home to South Korea. We made a promise to see each other again and while I am sad to say good bye to him today, I look forward to when we will fellowship without barriers in the peace and joy of Heaven.
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