There is so much I want to say to you, things that have taken me years to realize and appreciate. I know I could easily tell you these things, but I don’t know if you would remember them. So I’m writing them down. That way, at least I can remember for the both of us.
One thing I’ve noticed since moving back home is that you talk a lot about your father. I guess I take after you in that regard.
“I never knew how much my Father taught me until he was gone,” you’ve said countless times.
As a tobacco farmer, your father put you to work as soon as you were strong enough to do chores and taught you so many things that you used long after you left the family farm. You learned that a hard day’s work said a lot about a person and working together led to the greatest accomplishments. You learned that your name goes further than you do and the name to uphold wasn’t just your own but that of your family. You were taught that God was the source of every good thing and whether times were good or bad, He was always faithful to provide. You also understood that no matter how little you had, there was always someone who had less.
Once you spread your wings and signed up with the Air Force, you encountered enough characters and people who lacked character that you saw the wisdom in your father’s words. You knew how to have a good time, but instead of accepting the invitation of your buddies to drink away your paycheck, you passed up the German bars and saved your money, sending some home to your parents and using some to travel all over Europe. So while they had hangovers, you had adventures.
You learned at a young age one of the hardest lessons a person can learn – how to submit to authority. That lesson served you well, promoting you to Airman First Class in your first tour. Since your father taught you to strive for excellence, you rose through the ranks at whatever job you took after you got out of the service. You earned a front row seat at America’s great Space Race at NASA and as you chatted with astronauts, you knew you were seeing history unfold before your eyes.
As a farmer’s son, you learned that whatever you sow, you reap. So you chose to sow goodness, kindness and love. And your rewards have been extraordinary. You’ve had times of great loss and times of great joy. And you have remained faithful to God, acknowledging Him as the source of every good thing.
I know what it is to have a Father teach me invaluable lessons. Everything your father taught you, you’ve taught me. You taught me to work hard, honor my parents and submit to authority. You taught me to be a giver, not a taker. You taught me there’s two sides to every story and helping others is the best way to forget about my problems. You taught me that a relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in life and no matter what problems I had, God had the answer. You taught me I could do anything if I set my mind to it and an attitude of gratitude was always the best choice.
Just as you’ve said there was no way you could ever repay your father for what he taught you, there is no way I could ever repay you for everything you’ve taught me. So I’ll just try my hardest to put into practice everything I’ve learned. Even though I’ve watched this disease steal so much from you, I am so incredibly grateful that it led me to move back home to spend these past few years with you and Mom.
Every single one of your days has been ordained by God. I know there will be a day when you leave this earth for your eternal home. But I find myself holding onto you, trying somehow to keep you here. Dad, you are my rock. I never realized it before this disease came barreling into our lives but it’s true.
I love you more than words can say.