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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)

By Kenneth Heath


If I were a Rich Man!

My father enjoyed life to the full. To him, life was a challenge that had to be met head on. He had a brilliant mind and had even written a textbook known as “Bills bible”, which is still used today as a guide for the Optometric profession. Coming from a poor family, as the eldest, he helped his mother bring up his brothers and sister, as his father worked far from home and was seldom there. He was an excellent sports man and excelled in all the sports that he attempted.

People, however, were the most important item in his life. Whether as a Scoutmaster or as the villain in the local melodrama, where the audience hissed and threw peanuts at him, he loved people. When it came to his patients, a simple eye consultation could result in a long visit, as his patients discussed all their problems with him. Time was not important, they were. Many left with improved vision and much lighter burdens to carry.

He loved to cook and experimented with all sorts of exotic dishes. Sunday lunches were always a gourmet surprise and a Friday canasta evening turned into a dinner party of note. He loved cigars and pipes and we always knew when he was in the vicinity, by the lovely aroma that his pipe gave off. He loved music and when Fiddler on the roof first came out, he was so taken by the story and the music that every time “If I were a Rich man” played on the radio, he would stop what he was doing and sing and dance along. The Hebrew Slave Chorus from Nabucco by Verdi was another favorite. He would stand enraptured as it played, lost in time and space, absorbing every last note.

The advent of his grandchildren brought great joy to his life. They called him “grandpoo” and never tired of being around him. In fact all who knew him loved him. He brought an unforgettable ray of sunshine into peoples lives. His favorite saying was; “this too shall pass” which he applied to each and every situation that confronted him. He had compassion, integrity and wisdom beyond his years. No problem was too great and many a needy person found assistance through his generosity.

Sadly he developed Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s at the same time and the loss of his mobility and his brilliant mind was difficult for us to accept. However to say that “God is good”, is an understatement. We lived a thousand miles away and so when we went to visit him, we prayed, asking the Lord to allow us, to have a special time with him. To the amazement of my mom and the rest of the family, every time we went to see him we were able to have a coherent, intelligent conversation with him. He recognized us and called us by name and took an interest in our lives. This he was unable to do with the rest of the family.

At his passing, I had the privileged of doing his eulogy. Standing before an overflowing church, with friends and colleagues in abundance, we celebrated dad’s life. The tapestry of his life was filled with such vibrant colours, enriched all the more by those lives he had touched and by those who had touched his. As Christians we all knew that he gone to be with the Lord, so instead of morning as the pagans do, we celebrated his life and his funeral was the happiest that anybody had ever attended.
Just before he died I had a dream where my mom, my brother and I were standing in the foyer of a Hotel. Outside the front door was a luxury bus with its engine running and people boarding. We realized that we did not have our luggage and ran off to fetch it. As we left the foyer, I glanced back and saw dad standing there, a smile on his face, pipe in one hand and suitcase in the other. He was ready for the trip. At that moment the Lord said to me; “Dad is now ready to leave.”

As I reflect on my father’s amazing life and his passing, may I ask you this question? Is it well with your soul? I know what my father response would be, he would say; “choose life, choose Christ!” Looking back on his life, I can truly say, that he was a “Rich Man!”

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Sara Harricharan 04/17/08
He was indeed a rich man! I like that there is happines woven throughout here, on the things that he did in life, the memories that he left behind. You have some very vivid descriptions, with the tapestry that made up his life-that was my favorite line. It seemed to sum up everything that he was about.
Debbie Wistrom04/17/08
Your title reeled me in as I too love the "Fiddler." This was a moving testimony about a couple great lives. Here is my favorite line.
"The tapestry of his life was filled with such vibrant colours, enriched all the more by those lives he had touched and by those who had touched his."
Tim Pickl04/17/08
If I were a Rich Man music is now going through my head! Truly your Father was doubly Rich--truly blessed-- with the richness and fullness of Christ. Wonderful story about a wonderful man.
Janice Cartwright04/18/08
I love this topic that has brought out so many incredible stories about incredible people and how they touch our lives. Thank you for sharing this one about a wonderful father. I would love to have known him-feel that in some ways I do now.
Norma-Anne Hough04/19/08
Way to go my friend. Truly a lovely piece. I knew as soon as I read the title it was you. Blessings and love to you all,
Gregory Kane04/21/08
This is a lovely and tender eulogy. I like the fact that you shifted direction at the end and sought to apply it to the reader. One minor quibble – if it’s to be read by the unsaved, I would hesitate to use the word ‘pagan’ as this is quite a religious word.