My father died this past Sunday. He wasn’t rich or famous. He never held an elected office. Most of the world didn’t even notice his passing.
But my Dad changed the world.
He was a man who didn’t just believe in his faith, he lived it. He was honorable in his business dealings. Every person who dealt with him learned what it was like to actually work with a man of his word. To work with him, they had to live up to that same standard. So honor became a habit and not just a word.
He was generous with his time and his finances. He never asked to have his name on a building, or engraved on a monument. But every one of his gifts changed the life of another for the better, and each of their changed circumstances changed other lives. His generosity is like the waves a pebble makes when it is thrown into a pond – the pebble may disappear, but the waves just keep reaching out until the entire pond is changed.
He was a man who openly and completely loved his wife, at every moment of their marriage. He and my mother still held hands after 55 years as husband and wife. His example taught his children and now his grandchildren that it is not only possible, but wonderful, to keep the vows of marriage. And he left behind children who all have intact marriages.
He cherished life. He welcomed every child as a gift from God Himself. He communicated that love to all he met. His four children gave him a combined 21 grandchildren, and he was as thrilled with the youngest as he was with the oldest. Every one of those grandkids knows what it feels like to be considered a blessing. And they will bring that knowledge with them into their own adult lives.
He was a true feminist. He had four daughters, and although he used to joke about his "harem", he challenged each of us to reach for our dreams. He made each of us know that we were special because of our femininity, not in spite of it.
He believed in work. Dad set his standards high, and he expected us to meet them. But he stood behind each of us every single step of the way, and when we stumbled, he was the first one to pick us up, dust us off, and get us to try again.
Dad wasn’t perfect. Nobody is.
But he was a man who met his life head on, with courage and integrity and love. And now he has gone to be with the God he served for 80 years.
The world would say that Dad’s life was ordinary. The world would be wrong.
I would say that I will miss him, but the reality is that his presence will continue to bless my life forever. It is my deepest desire to honor that blessing every day.