The following is an excerpt from the book, Real Life Moments, by J. Mark Fox.
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20)
My Dad was born Oct. 19, 1935. He was too young to fight in World War II, and too young to fight in the Korean War. He was too old — and too married — to fight in the Vietnam War.
He always regretted not being a veteran, but don’t get the wrong idea that my Dad wasn’t a fighter. He was. Oh, my goodness, he was.
Dad grew up in an auto mechanic’s home that boasted one bathroom for eight children and two parents. His dad couldn’t afford to send him to college, so Dad went to work right out of high school and fought his way up the corporate ladder.
He believed in excellence in everything he attempted, and this certainly applied to his job. Dad was respected and sought after by all who worked with him, including those who moved past him on the ladder because of their college degrees.
Dad was a fighter in the community, taking the lead in helping to build a community center that included a pool and tennis courts. He was named the Old Town Civic Club man of the year in 1972 and was proud of the recognition he was given for his efforts.
Dad was a fighter in the church, helping to build Old Town Baptist Church as one of 35 charter members, along with my mom. He served there as a deacon, a Sunday School teacher, a member of the choir, and he led the way in raising money for the church to build a larger sanctuary.
Dad was a fighter on the golf course. After he retired, he played five days a week with his “gangsome.” He was hard to play with sometimes because he demanded so much of himself and every misplayed shot was met with lots of analysis and grief.
I truly believe my dad harbored a dream of one day playing on the senior tour.
Dad was a fighter in his marriage. He was married to his best friend for 51 years, but they had also been in the same class in every one of their 12 years at Old Town School. He and my Mom loved each other more than any two people I have ever known.
Dad would do anything for his sweetheart. That’s why the news of his kidney cancer that came last September was such a blow. I saw my dad weep for the first time in my life as he said to his three sons, “I am going to fight this. I need to stay alive for your mother.”
Dad’s hardest fight came at the very end, when cancer attacked his body with a vengeance and his 6-foot-3 frame dropped below 120 lbs. He fought cancer, and death itself, more than anybody I have ever known, not because he was afraid to die, but because of his tremendous love for life.
He loved his wife and his garden and his golf game and his friends and family so much that he did not want to leave any of it behind.
At the age of 70, on a Sunday afternoon, just a few hours after Phil Mickelson won his second Masters Golf Tournament, my Dad met his Master. He made his triumphal entry into heaven. I know he is there because the Bible says that we who are followers of Jesus Christ are confident and willing “to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
My Dad’s fight is over. But his life has only just begun.
Prayer: “Lord, teach me to number my days and to gain a heart of wisdom.”
Action: Read through Psalm 90 with your children and discuss life and the finite number of our days on the earth.