Appreciating My Father…a Bit Too Late

 

Am I the only person who failed to appreciate one of his parents during his lifetime?

My father was an extremely well educated man. His law degree from the College of William & Mary was later upgraded to a Doctorate of Jurisprudence because the college recognized that law students from that earlier era had done the equivalent of what they now required for a doctoral degree. And he practiced law for several years–I don’t know how many–before feeling God calling him in a different direction.

That’s when he and my mother packed up and moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he got a seminary degree, preparing for the ministry.

Love of study turned out to be a lifelong passion. His sermons–he preached morning and evening on Sundays and did an in-depth Bible study on Wednesday nights–resulted from hours of seclusion in his study. Have I mentioned that not only didn’t he read his sermons, he didn’t even use notes? Yes, he memorized each sermon, and I don’t recall ever hearing him falter. Amazing.

And even though he kept meticulous outlines of hundreds of sermons–probably thousands–he never reused a sermon. Not until he had moved on to a different church, and even then he only reused special ones.

The one that comes to mind–I suppose I heard it at least three or four times while I was growing up–was titled “A Lawyer Examines  the Crucifixion of Christ.” What a unique idea! And who better qualified to look at Jesus’s illegal trial and crucifixion than a lawyer-turned-minister?

He also had a children’s story for each worship service. Although I’m sure he told a number of good stories, one of them still sticks out in my mind some forty-some or fifty years later. I don’t recall the details, but it had something to do with a clay pot that was beautiful except for a flaw on one side. The story concluded with the decision to “turn the crack to the back” so that it wouldn’t detract from people’s admiration and enjoyment of its beauty.

My parents have been dead more than twenty years, and only now am I starting to appreciate them –especially my father–the way I wish I’d done way back when. Those stories he told about the family and about so many other things, the ones I tired of hearing then, are lost forever.

Is there someone in your life you ought to listen to and appreciate more? I urge you not to wait until it’s too late. Let that person know how you feel–today. How about sharing a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Memories of My Father

Happy Father’s Day a few hours early. My wife and I, along with hundreds of other Richmond residents, have been without electricity since around 9:00 p.m. Thursday. So we have no Internet connection at home. We’re visiting a friend so we can shower for church tomorrow and are taking advantage of her electricity and Internet connection. I decided it would be better to post this now rather than take a chance on whether I would have the chance to do so tomorrow. We might go home and find the lights on…but we’re not counting on that, and Dominion Power isn’t even estimating when they’ll get to our neighborhood. Nonetheless, we’re fine and God is good.

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When I wrote a post about my mother around Mother’s Day, I realized I would probably want to do one about my father now. Unfortunately, it was easier to write warm things about her than about him.

Don’t get me wrong. Father was a fine Christian minister who cared deeply about the congregations he served. But that’s probably the problem–or a large part of it. Too often, pastors get so caught up in meeting others’ needs that they’re less attentive to the needs of their own families.

I recall a Christmas present he spent hours secretly putting together. He wasn’t good with his hands, and that was a real labor of love.

I also remember his taking me to the yard of my elementary school to ride my bike; we lived on a hill, and even the back yard sloped too much for easy riding. And I recollect the fun he had hiding a grandmother clock for my mother behind the studio couch in the den and making her search for it one Christmas. There’s no question he loved us.

But what I remember just as clearly–perhaps more so–was his home study door being closed. And even when it was open, he seemed inaccessible. Uninterruptible.

When I was a teen, he seemed to realize that he hadn’t spent nearly enough time with me doing daddy-type things. So he took me to Manteo, North Carolina, to see The Lost Colony, a well-known outdoor historical drama. Looking back now, I appreciate the thought, but at the time I’m not sure I considered it something I really wanted to do.

In 1972 I completed writing an hour-long rock opera called The Identity of Divinity. I invited my parents, who lived across the state from me, to come for the one performance. Since its production was my greatest accomplishment to date, I really wanted them to be there. But church came first. Although they sent a congratulatory telegram, it wasn’t the same.

As my parents aged and my father retired from the active ministry (he served as the interim minister of a number of churches until he couldn’t do it anymore), the three of us ended up living in the same city for the first time since college. So my first wife and I saw them on on a regular basis. And Kathleen and I now belong to one of the churches Father had served as interim pastor of.

Considering the number of questions I have about my early life–and about family history in general–I wish I’d been a more attentive listener. The knowledge of so many things I’m curious about died with him in 1993.

I have two particular memories from his final years. One was going with him to a special anniversary of his alma mater, William and Mary. He couldn’t have made the trip by himself, and I’m glad I could help him manage it. I can still see him sitting among other graduates wearing the doctoral robe he’d kept all those years. And I can still hear guest speaker Prince Charles laughing about his problems with Princess Diana, who was still alive at that time.

The other memory was of the day Mother called me at work. Father had fallen in the bathroom. He couldn’t get up and she couldn’t lift him. I drove over as quickly as I could, but I couldn’t get him up, either. We had to call the rescue squad.  I’ll always remember him on the bathroom floor.

No, life with my father didn’t leave me with a number of warm fuzzies, but you know what? It really doesn’t matter. He was a fine man and I’m proud of who he was. More important, he loved me, and I loved him.

Do you have anything you want to share about your father today? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger