A Tribute to a Man I Called Daddy
by Vivian Gordon
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Hard to believe that as the baby of the family, I am now the oldest generation. I am now where my parents once stood not so very long ago. But because of their upstanding values and morals I am confident that I am where I need to be at this point in time. I was never ready to take that responsibility on up until a few years ago. But my dad, he was born ready.
The thing about memories is that they can either fade with time or get more seasoned with age. The memories I have of my dad were probably at one time nothing special, but now they seethe with importance. These memories are what made me who I am and I am so thankful that my very own father was an upstanding person in the eyes of his family, his community, his church and especially his God, the creator of heaven and earth.
My dad never really talked much about his relationship with Christ. I think that was a private moment that he kept for himself. One thing he did impress upon his children was there was a God Who loved us very much and so he tried to set the example in our formative years of how to conduct ourselves in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord. Years later, when I did get saved, sanctified and justified in Christ, I asked my own mother why they never talked about Jesus very much. She said this to me, ďWe wanted to be examples so you would follow. We didnít want to preach to you for fear it would chase you away.Ē I suppose she was right. I do believe at one point in my life as a teenager, who lived for myself, wouldíve turned and ran for cover. I admit, I was a selfish in my teen years. But it makes me remember Godís promise that if a child is brought up in the way they should go, that when they are old they wonít depart from that teaching. God does know what Heís talking about. I did eventually return to my roots in later years.
But as I remember my father who I called ďDaddyĒ even in my adult years, I can recall such ordinary things, but those are the things that made him who he was. In the physical sense, my dad was someone to look up to. He stood over 6í tall with a head full of silver-white hair which he sported from an early age. I guess us girls did that! It gave him a very unique appearance, stunning in fact. He had a smile that could light up a room. When he stepped into your presence, you automatically noticed him. Yes he had a warm smile and an infectous laugh. A wonderful quality in a man.
I remember him being given the nick name ďSilver FoxĒ. It denoted importance. My dad was in fact a pillar in his community. He was active in the theater group. At times I believe that he thought he was another Jimmy Stewart or Charlton Heston. In fact, he couldíve been, acting was his number one passion. The productions were very professional I must admit. I was proud of my dad, but never really expressed it too often. Now I wish I had.
In the church family, he was also a pillar. Everyone loved my mom and dad. He sparkled wherever he went. When we stood to sing a hymn, my dad would belt it out and his voice would resonate above everyone else's. Iíll never understand why he wouldnít join the choir though. Iím sure he was too modest for that. But now acting, that was his thing. If there was a play to be given, he was right there. He faithfully gave his time to prepare the other actors for their parts as he would direct them. These plays were nothing short of awesome. I can remember as a child crying when I saw my daddy being persecuted upon the stage. It was probably the first time I could relate to Jesusí pain and suffering, only this was my daddy up there. But I remember the impact that it made on me then.
My parents both seemed to gravitate towards people of substance and spirituality. Many of their friends were pastors who would come over for a wonderful home cooked meal. I thought perhaps I was the only kid who had to spend so much time in the presence of pastors, reverends and ministers. My dad was indeed a godly man, I remember him and my mom always discussing their Sunday school lesson during the week. I often thought my dad should have been a pastor himself, but I guess that was not his calling.
When times got tough, as they frequently did, I never saw my dad crumble or feel sorry for himself. No, he turned to the Lord God, prayed in earnest and I know he mustíve asked God to see the afflictions he had to carry by being responsible for a wife and three daughters to raise. My dad went through the fiery trials many times but never made it apparent to us kids. We just knew that he would take care of it in the end, and with Godís help, it always worked out. My dad's faith held us all together, I know that now.
I never saw my dad on governememt assistance. When he would lose a job, he would always have another one in a few days. My dad was a very intelligent man. Whatever he did he excelled at. And he did whatever it took to put food on our table. We didnít have much in the way of material things, but what we did have was always new. We were taught to be frugile and not waste anything, not even our time. My dad had every reason to carry himself with his head held high. In fact, as a child I can never remember a time being out with them that someone wouldnít come up and shake his hand, giving him a hearty greeting. My dad was well loved and respected. I donít think he had one enemy as he always taught us that everyone was someone important and should be respected. This is one of Godís commands when He tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. As I think back on it, my dad put Godís word into practice in his own life without putting anyone else down.
But I can honestly say that my dad was not perfectly perfect in every respect. He had not much patience for messing with the Christmas tree lights. In those days, when one went out, they all went out. The putting up of the tree and the lights was his duty, decorating was up to the rest of us. But, each year, I recall him uncoiling strings of lights across the living room floor trying to get them untangled. This would bring out the slightly imperfect side of my dad. I found it to be rather funny though. For this reason our house was not very decorated on the outside. He was not one for getting out the ladder and performing anything that didnít have to be done. He wasnít much of a handyman. That job was reserved more for my mom. Our Christmases were always filled with love and fellowship. They were like the old fashioned kind that you only see in magazines now. It's a shame our society has grown away from this. I don't remember what we got, but I will always remember the love we had in that home.
As a child I can recall anxiously waiting for my daddyís car to come rolling down the driveway. I just wanted to crawl up in his lap and mess up his hair and hug on him and kiss him. Once he did get home, there I was and he was always ready to receive that love. But heíd hug me with those whiskers that would hurt my cheeks.
My daddy, he loved life, going to baseball games, going to the parks and having picnics. He kept up with the best of us even after he had his stroke. He wanted no special treatment. In fact, after his stroke, he worked at rehabilitating the use of his right side again so he could drive and even work. Driving was a passion for him. On Sundays afternoons we would pile into the car and just drive, but gas was only about .25 a gallon back then. He even got hired at the AAA and would give people directions over the phone. My dad was really good with directions. People were so appreciatvie of his help and he was admired up to the day he finally retired for good.
It wasnít long after that he began to lose his memory and forget what he was doing. When he drove through stop signs and red lights my mom had no other choice but to revoke his driverís license. Thatís when his health declined steadily. It was like cutting his life line. He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It changed the very essence of who he was. He was short tempered and couldnít understand things like he once did. But through it all, he was still happy to see his grandchildren and children. He was loved by all of us. All his grandchildren who still remember him, remember him with love and fondness. He was called ďPapaĒ and to this day, still is referred to that name.
I do believe that if thereís one main thing you can leave behind, itís your legacy. A legacy of love is one thing that money can not buy. Itís your inheritance.
Itís the person you were, itís the person you left for others to immitate and follow in your footsteps. When Iím absent from my body and present with the Lord Jesus like my very own dad is today, I want nothing more than to leave a legacy of love behind for my own children and those whom I touched in this life.
My father left a written legacy of his undying love for my mother in the form of letters when he was away in the army, WWII. Recently when my sisters and I had to empty the home of our childhood out for the last time, we found a duffel bag full of these love letters from one young man with hopes and an aspiration to be the best husband a young wife could ever hope to have. He certainly lived up to that. Now that his time has gone and my momís time is not far away, it will be up to me and my sisters to be the oldest and wisest of them all. Those are big shoes to fill, but my dad prepared us well for this journey. He gave us a knowlege of a God who was bigger than any of us, he told us about His Son named Jesus who loved us so much He died for us on a Cross.
Yes, if I had my dad here today, I would tell him this, ďDaddy, you were a man to be honored and admired. I owe everything to you today, even though Iíve made some mistakes along the way, I am now exactly where I should be and I thank God for loving me enough to give me you for my daddy! Happy Fatherís Day. I love you.Ē
For anyone who still has their father, now is the time to honor him and let him know just how much he means to you. Put aside your pride or any conflict that may keep you apart. Just let this man who is a gift from God to you, know what he means to you. Remember, we are never promised tomorrow.
Fathers are Godís gift to us, the honor we give our fathers is our gift to God.
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