It’s almost surreal that I am here in AZ helping my dear wife fight the battle of her life while the rest of the family is in Michigan reflecting on my dad’s life. A special thanks to my friend and fellow pastor and wounded healer Chris Richards for sharing this at the memorial service.
Funerals and weddings have a couple of things in common…they are events that provide us the natural opportunity to:
to reflect on our yesterdays memories,
today’s realities and
On days like today we all pause and evaluate on what matters most in life. Most of us are so stubborn and set in our ways that its not until the pain and tragedy of death crosses our paths that we slow down and take inventory of the lives we are living.
Was Dad a perfect guy, nope. But I am confident that he did the best he was able to do in any given time. The reality is none of us here today are perfect either and sooner or later the roles will be reversed and there will be people at each of our funerals.
As I think of Dad several things come to mind:
I remember Dad chaperoning some of the guys from the church group I was a part of to a Tiger Baseball game, and him buying hot dogs for all the kids in the row! WOW, I’m not sure I’d even do that!!!!
That same group of guys from church would do an annual bike trip from Trenton to this very cemetery and we would camp in the very back (and I promise I never messed with any tombstones in the middle of the night – just a little too creepy for me), well Dad would help drive all the ‘gear and supplies’ over to our camp site so we would not have to hall everything on our bicycles. While Dad did not find himself in the church pew often, he was more than willing to help in other ways.
We often travel down to Marco Island Florida, and I remember how McKenzie always wanted to go with Papa into the gas station…not only was he paying for the gas but he was ALWAYS buying her some type of treat or drink. On one trip Dad bought himself a hot dog from a gas station (I’m assuming no one there is saying he was health conscious) and handed it to her while he was getting settled in. By the time he got buckled in, McKenzie had ate the hot dog. She thought he bought it for her! For awhile she had a craving for gas stations hot dog, but thankfully has over come that urge.
It was almost 21 years ago that I brought Bonnie over to dad and Betty’s to meet them for the first time. Despite previously stressful years within the family, Dad and Betty welcomed her with open arms (they probably knew ‘this was finally the right person for me’ and were thrilled the search was over)… and of course Dad made his usual comments about us sleeping in different bedrooms but said we could sleep in the same bed but he would have to out a board between us.with open arms this young lady I was dating.
Obviously I appreciate the love and concern that Dad and Betty had for my family. The many trips they made with us to Bonnie’s alternative treatments, playing cards on Sundays, and the Annual visits to the dog tracks with McKenzie when they visited us here, all very good memories.
As you know Dad could spend HOURS and HOURS watching every sporting game on TV. While there was never going to be a Hienzmen Trophy winner (I can’t even spell it) I am confident Dad was proud of that I followed the dreams in my heart and chose a profession that lined up with how God created me. I remember at the first church I served, it was after Dad and Betty retired, they were in the pews more than some of my church leaders :). Obviously, McKenzie was a big draw for them at that point, but nonetheless their presence was very supportive.
I think what I will remember most is probably his relationship and love with our daughter McKenzie. McKenzie will remember dad as Papa, and he was a GREAT Papa to her.
I remember driving to the courthouse for the final hearing to make McKenzie’s adoption final. As we pulled into the parking lot Dad said, “Don’t worry about anything, if anyone tries to take her back I’ll hire the best lawyers out there.”
McKenzie remembers Papa liked to talk and talk to her (and you wonder where I got it from) and she recalls all the stories he told her, again, and again, and again. Even though after a while she could probably repeat them verbatim the times with her and him just sitting on the couch just talking about, “the time when….” helped to created a relationship with McKenzie that she will not forget.
May all of us remember that God’s love isn’t dependent on if we attend a church, on how much we give in an offering plate. God’s love isn’t determined on what side of the tracks we live on. It’s based on our hearts response to Jesus. We are thankful that as McKenzie insisted, that Papa was a believer in Jesus, not just believed that Jesus was Jesus, but that Papa asked Jesus into his heart. We live in that hope and that reality, that
God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoso ever believes in him should now perish but have every lasting life.
I guess that’s what they often refer to God’s love as Amazing Grace…My prayer for all of you today is that you also will lean into the Hope we find in Jesus so that you can experience God’s Amazing Grace.
Thanks for listening and thanks for supporting my family today.