My Dad passed away Wednesday morning. As pragmatic as I am, it is difficult to write those words let alone say them.
Several days before Dad left for Heaven, a tree was down on the property, and I needed help clearing it. Since he and I spent many a day with chainsaw in hand moving limbs and clearing brush, I asked him to help me. Some of our best conversations were made over the rumbling of a chainsaw in between cuts. But on this day, Pop was tired. I joked with him that he was just getting lazy in his old age; but something inside of me knew, this was the last time we’d work outside together – and it was.
Arrangements are being made. People are visiting the house, calling, bringing food, and sending love. Friends are so crucial at times like these. I can’t tell you the number of times I heard my Dad say that to those who were grieving and even more, how many times I have repeated his words. And now more than ever, I want to remember all that he taught me.
My Dad was a preacher, but he was a husband and father first. There weren’t two James Franklin’s – what we saw and heard preaching on Sunday mornings was what we saw and heard in our home. He preached what he believed, and he lived it even more. I can’t say I always willingly accepted my Dad’s profession, on the contrary. There were times I hated going to people’s houses. I hated waiting in the car while Pop listened to yet another person’s troubles. Funerals, hospital visits, domestic disputes, loss and sadness – growing up our days were filled with everyone else’s problems – and at times, I resented my Dad’s dedication to it all. While my Dad played baseball with me, taught me how to tie my shoes and ride a bike, bought me my first razor, and kicked my tail when I needed it, he was different from all the other dads. His job called him to do things other dads didn’t have to do.
I asked him one time why he chose that job. He chuckled at me, and with that spark in his eyes which always popped up when he had a point to make, he answered me firmly, “I didn’t choose this, God chose me to do this, and I just obeyed…just obey, Mike.”
And he did obey, living his life in service of others, loving everyone he came in contact with.
I’ve often watched my Dad as he walked in and out of the house, the church, to ballparks, and into his favorite restaurants. Never once have I doubted Who walked beside him. My dad walked with Jesus Christ everywhere he went.
The Top 20 Things He Taught Me –
20. Before you open your mouth to give someone advice, listen to what he or she has to say.
19. The hardest lesson in life to learn comes just after you choose NOT to tell the truth.
18. Scraping up your knees comes with learning to ride a bike – it is in the process.
17. When you mess up, go back to the basics. Fundamentals are just as important in life as they are in baseball.
16. When someone is laughing at you – laugh with them.
15. Look people in the eyes when you talk to them.
14. Check the fluids in your automobile or suffer the consequences – it’s a good idea for life too. There’s something to maintenance.
13. If you use someone’s tools or anything from the kitchen – put it back where you found it.
12. Always return something you borrow from someone better than when you borrowed it.
11. Regret is more about what you didn’t do than what you did.
10. You can be the best tasting piece of chocolate in the box, but there will always be someone who doesn’t like chocolate
9. Be the man you would like your daughter to marry.
8. When things are going well, a person’s true character is evident. That’s the time you learn what a person’s priorities are.
7. You don’t always have to start at the beginning, but you do have to start somewhere.
6. It isn’t about impressing people, it is about connecting with them.
5. Life doesn’t happen. Life is…
4. The most powerful name in the universe – JESUS – call on Him.
3. Don’t ever give up on anyone, especially yourself.
2. Forgive, forgive, forgive, and forgive again.
1. Love people – there is something of value in everyone – sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find it.
I love you, Pop. You will be missed.