I don't even know where to start.
My Dad grew up the son of an Air Force Colonel. He was taught to love our country, and to respect the flag...and those who served under it's banner.
He traveled the world...first, as a son...and then later as a member of the United States Air Force himself. And everywhere he could take us, the family, he did...and that's how we got to see the world as well.
From my earliest memory, my Dad was tall and proud. He wore his Air Force uniform every day to work, and he stood erect and confident.
He was always kind of quiet...he still is. He is the nicest, most gentle person I have ever known. He could do a few things around the house, but...bless his heart...he couldn't fix a THING. He just wasn't taught those skills by his own dad. Maybe his Dad didn't know how, either.
I remember when my Mom threw a surprise 50th birthday party for him. All 4 of us kids, our spouses who could make it, all of our children...we went to Tulsa and didn't let him know we were coming. To get him to the place where the party was, my Mom had to call and tell him she'd had a flat...and to please come pick her up. He walked in to the party holding a hammer and a flashlight.
FOR A FLAT TIRE.
But while he's not wise to the things of the world, he is wise in many other ways. He is kind beyond all belief. He believes the best in everyone. And he prays for me...and my siblings, and our families...every day.
There's something so sweet and precious...and comforting...about knowing someone is praying for you every.single.day. Ya know?
When we went to visit my Dad in Tulsa at the end of November, he seemed to get around fairly well...for what he's dealing with. My Dad has Parkinson's, and he is all stooped over. He moves slowly, shuffling his feet. He is scared to death of falling, so he looks down at the ground unless he's in a sitting position.
My Dad at my sister's house was completely different. He seemed antsy...uneasy. He couldn't get comfortable. He was cold all the time. He seemed unsteady and generally out-of-sorts. He wanted Clara with him at all times, and was unsure of himself when she wasn't around.
I could sense his frustration. This was something he talked of often...one of his worst nightmares: being unable to care for himself completely, or losing his independence. His own father (the Air Force Colonel), at the end of his life, had Alzheimer's. He went from a highly decorated, highly intelligent, author of two books (on MEMORY of all things), to not knowing how to put on his clothes or brush his teeth.
My Dad is 78 years old. His mind is still sharp, and we had some good conversations with him while we were there. He has a quick wit and a great sense of humor. He prayed over our entire family a couple of times.
I could listen to him pray...all day long.
To see my Dad now...you wouldn't know the life he's lived or the impact his life has had on our family...on others. In fact, you might not even give him a second glance...just another old, stooped-over man...shuffling along...looking down. Maybe he's blocking the aisle as you try to quickly pass by. Maybe he's got a line behind him at the fast food counter, because he can't hear what the cashier is saying. Or maybe he can't get his fingers to cooperate, as he tries to count out the exact change for his order. He doesn't use a credit or debit card. No ma'am. It's cash only for this old-school guy.
But he's so much more than his physical appearance.
Aren't we all?
He was a military officer. He was a beloved son. He was a devoted husband. He was a business man. He was a widower. He is a Veteran. He is a Christian. He is the Director of his Sunday School department. He is a friend. He is a leader. He is a servant. He is a husband. He is a father. He is a grandfather. He is my Dad.
My Dad has taught me many lessons in life, but most of them did not come from the words he spoke. I have learned mostly by watching him...listening to how he talks, watching what he does, where he spends his money, how he cares for others. I am inspired by his unwavering faith in God. Even when he had his heart attack, he was confident in his salvation and God's plan for his life to say: "if this is it, I'm okay with it...I'm going to Heaven to be with Jesus and your mom."
And to say of his Parkinson's diagnosis: "God has been good to me all of my life...I have no reason to believe He'll stop now."
God, please give him strength for all of his days.
"Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away." Psalm 90:10