Blogging A – Z Challenge
F is for Father (Also a reprint of “A Walmart Bag Of Stuff”)
Father. Yet another reason for me to blog every day. I think this post will catch me up to where I am supposed to be in the A – Z Challenge. Father. My dad.
In our family we reuse calendars from previous years and this year happens to be 2009 (among others http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/repeating.html ) and I happened to be changing the page when I realized that the calendar I was looking at was the one that had been hanging up in my dad’s room when he died. He went home to meet my mom on April 4, 2009. Today is the 6th. It really upset me that I hadn’t even thought about it a couple of days ago and I was really glad that I had my archives of things I had written at the time and was able to go through and remember and cry. I still miss him.
I will keep working on restoring the originals on this blog but as I remember my dad and remember another reason blogging is so important to me is writing about life.
Here is a reprint of a piece I wrote on my original blog, April 15th, 2009, called “A Walmart Bag Of Stuff.”
Before I say anything else I just want to thank all of you, my friends, for your kind words, prayers, e-mails, comments and nice thoughts my way. I appreciate it. It is an interesting community that comes here and while some of you I know and have met, some of you I know but have never met you personally and maybe never will (although we all know strange things happen in life). I am blessed by you all. Not only do I have the most intelligent readership on the net, I also have the best, most compassionate. You guys are awesome.
I plan to go out bloghopping in the next couple of days and try to catch up where everyone is at. I may not read every “back-issue” as I usually try to do, just so I can get around to everybody.
There is something I want to reflect on “out loud.” When I came back from Wisconsin I had a Wal-Mart bag with a few personal belongings, a flag with 3 shell-casings stuffed inside its folds to represent the 3 volleys fired by the American Legion to honor my dad’s veteran status and a casing Carter (who participated in the ceremony) gave me.
I was thinking that that’s not much to show for 82 years of work and strife. Can a man’s life be reduced to a Wal-Mart bag of stuff? This was a depressing thought. My son, however, pointed out that it only shows where his treasure really was. So what if he didn’t leave behind a Mercedes and a mansion and a big bank account for everyone to fight over. That’s not the big deal. The real deal, the big deal is what he did leave behind and what he sent forward.
What did he leave behind? A legacy of being a gentle, loving, emotional man of prayer and Bible reading, reading the Bible through three times in a year and praying often. He wore out 5 Bibles. A man who had worked hard every day of his life. Even after he retired he worked until he was in his seventies, mowing lawns and doing odd jobs because he liked to work and because he liked to help people and to support my mom. A personal memory of him was that he was always there. He didn’t go out for a night on the town and stay out till all hours; he was a “home-bod.” He had a home and he wanted to be there. He wasn’t a drinker or a partier. My mom never stayed up all night wondering where he was at. We all knew where he was at. Even before he got in the church, he was like that.
A legacy of having taken pride in his service to his country and pride in an older brother who gave his life for his country.
A legacy of loving God and the Kingdom of God. After he got in church he was there whenever the doors were open. Literally. He went to any and every meeting that was there, even if it didn’t pertain to him, if there was something going on at the church, him and my mom were there.
So what treasure did he have sent forward? Besides all the prayers and all the times he encouraged people (which he did a lot. He was always telling someone, “Keep up the good work.” Or, “We sure appreciate what you do.” A lot of things like that.), he gave to the church. I have never heard of a person that gave so much that their pastor had to ask them to stop giving so much. One of his favorite things was giving to a program the Sunday School there has to feed breakfast to the kids that come on the bus. I could not tell the amounts he’s given but it doesn’t matter anymore. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be, also.”
So what does a man’s life come to? A Wal-Mart bag of stuff and a flag? Yeah, maybe. In this world, anyway.
And what stuff?
An electric razor that my brother bought for him which he would never have bought for himself. The most expensive item in the bag, $45.
A ball cap that says “#1 Grandpa.” Not only was that true, it also is a reminder of his fashion sense. He would wear a ball cap everywhere with everything. No, really. Everything. Including with his suit to church Sunday morning. Some people think I wear my cowboy hat a lot, but they never saw my dad with his ball caps.
Speaking of fashion, I have the brightest, reddest tie you have ever seen. “I like ties with a little life to them.”
And some card games marked with his initials and his army serial number (before they used your SSN) on the box. He would mark everything. I have a book where he had written, “Hands off you big thief! This means you! The wages of sin is death!” Anyway you could not be around him too long without he wanted to play “Uno” or “21” or his favorite of all time, “Skip-Bo.” In fact when I went to visit him last time anytime we weren’t playing Bingo with everybody, we would play some “21” to pass the time.
And a new wallet. Someone gave it to him and he never used it. I can imagine him telling a person, “Oh, I’ll keep it until the one I have wears out. I don’t have anything to put in it anyway.”
Remember, The Good Book says, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”