Today should be my dad's 68th birthday.
My dad was a funny, intelligent, thoughtful man who believed in a real and loving God and reflected that love to everyone around him. He didn't care who you were or where you had come from. He found a way to love you and minister to you. It was what he was made to do.
My dad was quite the intellectual and was very concerned with problems of our time. It wasn't because he was pretentious and wanted to wax philosophically in an ivory tower. He cared about other people's problems and the pain that they felt. I had once told him that he should watch the movie "Crash" because it would have been right up his alley. I know that many people either love or absolutely hate that movie, but it reminded me of another movie that he loved "Grand Canyon".
You know "Grand Canyon'? The 1991 movie starring Danny Glover, Steve Martin, and Kevin Kline. My dad watched it over and over. He even placed a tape recorder in front of the TV while watching it so he could listen to the dialogue in the car. We still laugh about this because it reflects some of the interesting idiosyncrasies of my dad's personality, but he was so fascinated by this movie because it was about believing in hope even when so much divides us.
What a blessed woman I am to have had a father who so fervently believed in such a good and amazing God that he dedicated his life to him and to serving others, mostly to people who are often forgotten in our society. He wasn't a seeker of glory. He was a servant.
My father was a bi-vocational pastor. He worked third shift for many years. He often didn't get enough sleep because he spent his days helping his family, helping people from church, or going to meetings about ministries that he loved. He sacrificed a great deal for others.
My father also worked as a hospital chaplain on weekends. He helped people who were suffering from the effects of violence and illness and loss. I remember following him around in the hospital one day and thinking he walked like John Wayne as soon as he hit the doors. He was confident in where he was supposed to be.
My sisters and I have friends who didn't have great experiences with their own fathers. They couldn't understand being a "daddy's girl". Then they would meet our dad and adopt him as their own.
When my dad was sick he once lamented that he wouldn't be able to walk me down the aisle when I got married. He had performed both of my sisters' weddings as well as walking them down the aisle. Now that I am engaged I have received many thoughtful suggestions for how he can be remembered on that day. I am thankful that I know people who are thoughtful enough to suggest ideas.
A heart appliqued to the back of a wedding dress.
Or honoring a him with a locket with his photo hanging from my bouquet.
But before I get married, in honor of my dad, I will be participating in the 2012 ING New York City Marathon for the American Cancer Society. I am raising money because my dad was a person who believed in hope and held strong to faith. He wouldn't have wanted to me give up in the belief that we can find ways to prevent and treat cancer and other illnesses.
So I am going to train hard and keep trying to live my life like my dad lived his. It is the greatest tribute I can give him.
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