In the year after my dad died, as part of my grieving, I wrote this book. I’ve waited to make it public for many reasons. But now, more than 11 years later, I want to share it. My dad was a good man. I want you to know about him and his influence. I hope you enjoy.
My dad loved my mom. He didn’t just say it or do corny things, sometimes called “romance.” He did plenty of things that kept my mom happy and loved. They used to do dishes together and while they did them, they talked. I can still hear their rings clinking against the glasses as they washed and dried them. They used to work on house projects together. They used to do wood working projects together. He was always supportive of her and encouraged her to try things and do well at them.
My mom felt the brunt of my dad’s death more than anyone because she also got the majority of his love. There was no doubt to anyone that my dad loved my mom. It often irritated me that my mom was competition for my dad’s attention. Many a time he had to leave Monday Night Football with me to go answer a question for her or something. It bugged me, but I understand it now.
My parents always worried about me being a husband. They knew the propensity for sarcasm that my tongue has. But their worrying was for naught. I think they underestimated the example they set for me. I was an observer as a kid, I saw things and remembered them. I may have been annoyed at things I saw, but I remembered them and as I grew I began to figure some of them out.
I now know why my dad thought my mom was so special: she was. The love between a man and his wife is unlike any other love. There are so few examples of good marriage. I was blessed to have one of them in my house with me. I do the things for my wife that my dad did for his. I have him to thank for it. I don’t know that I’m as good a husband as my dad was, but he gave me the tools to figure it out and grow at it.
This is not to say that their marriage was not tough. They had two kids, two kids create problems no matter who you are. It’s one more thing. He was a pastor, which means he never got paid a whole lot and he had to constantly put up with annoying people and not bring it home to ruin the home-life. Not easy stuff, but they worked at it and carried it off pretty well.
My mom was also supportive of my dad, she was his biggest fan. Even on his weird kicks, she was right there with him. Teaching the family Greek after supper was perhaps the least appreciated move my father ever did. I think even my mom made fun of him for that one. But she supported him and we did it twice before he gave up. When I was in seminary having to take Greek, I regretted that our mocking had hindered my education.
I feel kind of funny even talking about my dad’s marriage because I’m an outsider to it. All I know is that what I saw was pretty good. He served his wife, he loved his wife, they were united. They talked and came to agreements and carried them out. When they did have problems they worked them out quickly and moved on. They taught me the importance of family and dealing with each other and working through difficulties.
I do not like it when people mess with my family and I will defend my family from stuff that could hinder it. I get that from my dad who always stood up for his wife and kids. No one can love my mom the way my dad did. His death was harder on her than anyone. It’s actually nice, for a son, to see that his mom loved his dad. I always knew it and was witness to it, but it sinks in more to see how much they loved each other now that he’s gone.
There was one disturbing moment for me when I was able to “experience” the love they had for each other. My sister and I were both in college, but I came home for a trip with my mom and dad to Florida to see my grandma and grandpa who lived in a small home on a golf course down there.
I had to sleep on the floor on an air mattress while my mom and dad shared a bed. I was at the foot of their bed on the floor. One night, while trying to go to sleep, my parents kept giggling in bed and tickling each other. I tell ya what, at the time it made me uncomfortable and a bit sick, but looking back, I got to see the fun they had together. May not have wanted to see it at that moment, but I was witness to it nonetheless. I can only hope to be as good of a husband as my dad was.
When my dad was hired at his church he told everyone that his wife was not part of the deal. You are hiring him, you are not hiring her. She will not do things just because she is the pastor’s wife, she will do what she wants to do. Do not go through my wife to get to me. Stuff like that. Again, great for a son to see his dad defending and protecting his mom. Not only did he tell me to respect my mom, he showed me how.
Now that my mom does not have my dad anymore, I try to do my part in helping her. I can’t be my dad. For awhile I thought I had to try to be, but I can’t, I’m still her son. I can’t be there for her like my dad was, but she knows where I am and I know where she is. I love my mom and it’s because my dad showed me how. I hope I can do the same for my wife.
After my dad died, I went around with my mom helping her get details taken care of. She had to switch the checkbooks over and get death certificates in order and all that. I went with her. She would break down and cry as she was explaining these things. It’s tedious for any man to be around any woman who is crying. It was not the most fun I have ever had in life. But I imagined my dad being there, helping and encouraging her to get through it. He would have loved to have been there.