Writing has always been my therapy. The bigger the emotions, the more I NEED to pour out the words in journals or on this blog. So when my dad passed away, you can imagine I filled dozens of pages. My dad was the single most influential person in my life. My very best friend and idol when I was a toddler, and the person I went to first for advice about everything as an adult.
When I was an obnoxious, self-absorbed jerk 30-something years ago,
I told him he wasn’t a good dad.
Because OBVIOUSLY knew more than he did about all the things, and knew how *I would have parented kids better than he did.
I’ve thought of that once a day since he died, and asked God 100 times to tell him I’m sorry that I said that. I was consumed with remorse and regret about it until I had a mini-vision of him laughing about it in Heaven, because OBVS he knew he was a good dad if at nearly 50 years old I’m still calling him all the times to ask advice on EVERYTHING. Or maybe he’s laughing in Heaven because he’s free from my phone calls about everything from a rodent in my kitchen to, you know… more important things than a rodent in my kitchen. He knew all the things. He was wise and Godly and walked with the Lord for most of his 70+ years, and always, always pointed me to God’s word for all the answers to all the things.
Well, maybe not about the rodent in my kitchen, but all the REAL things…
In all the pages upon pages I filled with words when he died, I made a list of things I wanted my girls to know about my dad, their Pawpaw, because as a single mom of girls,
I make it my mission to point out GOOD MEN to them.
There are SO MANY examples of really crappy dads out there, and so few good ones, so I make SURE to point out the good ones.
- When a man opens a door for a lady.
- When a man on the news rescues women and children from a flood.
- When a man mows a yard for a widow.
I point it out. THAT is a good man, I tell them. My dad, their Pawpaw, was the best, and so I made a list of all the things I wanted them to know about him. When they get ready to get married, Pawpaw is the blueprint I want them to go by.
I planned to share this at his funeral.
I figured if my girls needed to know these things, then all of his friends and family needed to know, as well. I was ready, I thought. And then I woke up that day darn near catatonic. I could barely breathe, or put one foot in front of the other, and most definitely couldn’t be behind a microphone, talking, about my dad, in front of people. I was not ok that day. I couldn’t do it.
So in honor of Father’s Day this week, I thought… what better time to share what an amazing man my dad was. Father’s Day fell on the four-month anniversary of his death. And I was not ok on Father’s Day, either. And I’m not ok today. And I’m not sure if/when I’ll be ok.
But for posterity, and for my girls, without further ado, this is the funeral message I wanted to share about my dad:
Pawpaw is your blueprint.
For my dad’s grandchildren, Katie, Annie, Micah, and Susie, when you get ready to get married, Pawpaw is the blueprint. Joshua and Jesse, when you grow up, Pawpaw is a good one to model your life after. He was a good man by anyone’s standard, and for sure every single person at the funeral who thought highly of my dad. Was he perfect? No. But I want you to know these seven things that made my dad a really good man:
1. A good man wants to share Jesus with you.
We were the quintessential church family when I was growing up, at church every Wednesday and twice on Sundays, because my dad took us to church. We prayed before every meal. We learned how to tithe and how to pray and how to memorize scripture and how to care for widows and orphans. He knelt and prayed beside our beds every night when I was a child. But most importantly, my dad wanted to know that we believed in Jesus and were saved.
After he passed away, I received messages from MULTIPLE people who wanted me to know that the first time they met my dad, he asked them if they were saved. It takes my breath away to think of all the people populating Heaven, who are there because my dad asked them if they were saved.
Every boy we dated, that was my dad’s first question.
- Is he saved?
- Does he go to church?
- Are his parents divorced?
- And last but not least, he was also known to check criminal records, which eliminated a prospect or two, but MOST importantly, IS HE SAVED?
And so I’m asking you:
Are YOU saved? When you die, will you go to Heaven? When you get to the gates and God asks you, Why should I let you in, how will you answer?
2. A good man knows how to work.
My dad’s work ethic was legendary.
He LITERALLY worked from the time he was a child of about eight years old, throwing newspapers on a paper route.
He bought his first car at age 12 or 13.
As my dad’s self-appointed best friend in my preschool years, I sat on his workbench and helped (ahem) him fix ALL THE THINGS. We fixed lawnmowers together, I held the flashlight while he rebuilt a truck engine, and I hung around while he remodeled our 1920-something house in Houston inch by inch, painstakingly refurbishing every old wooden window frame.
My dad worked to relax. He would rather be at the farm fixing fences or mowing on the tractor than languishing on a beach any day.
And because of my dad and his work ethic, we never lacked anything we needed. The Bible has a lot to say about a man without a work ethic. A GOOD man works.
3. A good man is financially wise.
My dad’s frugality was also the stuff of legends.
There are SO many stories about his thriftiness, reusing and repurposing, making it do or doing without, that if we wrote a book about it we would put Dave Ramsey out of business.
From him, I learned to
- Pay cash. If God wanted you to have it, you’d have the funds.
- Avoid debt like the plague.
- Buy your cars used and drive them til the wheels fall off.
- Fix things that break.
- And TURN OFF THE LIGHTS WHEN YOU LEAVE THE ROOM.
He once made me stand in the hall and turn the light on and off fifty times to make sure I knew how to do it.
I’m sure this is unrelated but I just recently sold my 20-year-old Toyota. The wheels had not quite fallen off yet. But I graduated from college completely debt free, with a car that was paid for. Thanks, dad. My life is better because you were frugal.
4. A good man provides.
The Bible says a good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children. Do you know why? Because a good man doesn’t spend every dime he makes on himself.
Men who are NOT good spend all their money on beer and video games.
All six of my dad’s grandchildren are better off because my dad invested in them.
I can’t fathom where I would be, as a single mom, had my dad not provided for me when I found myself without a job and without a way to pay my electric bill or buy groceries for my kids. He came to my house more times than I can count to bring us groceries. We were essentially a widow and orphans, and my dad provided.
5. A good man protects.
My dad protected his wife and daughters ferociously. He was ruthless about protecting us from evil and danger and from bad influences. We were taught to shoot a gun and to change a tire, and were the first of our friends to have a cell phone (in a leather bag) because my dad’s goal was to PROTECT us.
Of course, Betsy and I taunted him about it. That time we called him from our leather bag phone to tell him we were at the fair (the ROUGH part of town), after dark, and had a flat tire…
We weren’t, but we HEE-HAWED laughing about how we gave my dad a heart attack. I mean, I’m sure he laughed about that. Eventually.
6. A good man is strong and masculine.
I always felt so safe with my dad. At 6’5″ in his younger days, I was pretty sure he could beat up any other dad. I felt safe in our home growing up, and I felt safe in HIS home as an adult, when I took my little girls and left our home to be a single mom, and stayed at their house. I didn’t feel safe at my home, but always safe there.
I always felt so safe in my dad’s truck. When I got sick at school, my dad is the one I’d call to come get me, and I will never forget the feeling of relief when I saw his truck turn into the parking lot. Relief, and safety.
My dad’s home, truck, and presence, always meant safety.
In this current day and age, masculinity is a bad word. Don’t believe it. This world needs strong, bold men who are a force protecting their families from evil with their strength.
7. A good man is a spiritual leader.
My dad not only took us to church, but he was involved in some aspect of ministry his entire life.
- He sang in the choir.
- He taught Sunday School.
- He sent us to church camp.
- He sent us on Mission Trips.
- He sent us to Disciple Now.
He volunteered for the Ramp Crew, building wheelchair ramps for disabled people, right up until he was too sick to swing a hammer.
We learned God’s Word in our home.
He prayed at meals and prayed beside our beds at night.
He spent time in God’s Word every day, and we SAW. His Bible is still sitting beside his spot on the couch where he met with God every single morning.
He LIVED WHAT HE BELIEVED, and every single person at his funeral knew it.
And my dad loved his wife like Christ loved the church. What does that mean? Christ laid down his life for the church. I saw my dad, over and over and over, lay down his own life for his wife and his daughters.
The last time I saw my dad, my car wouldn’t start, and he INSISTED on coming over to jump-start it.
I knew he felt horrible, was terribly sick and weak and I didn’t want him to do it, and told him ten times that I’d have my man friend do it. Or my neighbor. Or my brother-in-law. Nope, NOTHING doing, he had to do it himself. When I think of how weak and frail he was that day, it kills me, but there was literally no stopping him from driving to my house to jump-start my car. Himself.
He used EVERY LAST ounce of strength he had, right up until the end, serving me, making sure I was ok, making sure my car was ok. He had to see for himself.
That was my dad.