On Oct 16, 2022 my brother and I were invited to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the church where we were raised and where our parents were long-time members. When I called to tell them we were coming our friend Gene asked if we would say “a few words about Daddy” since he was such an icon in the church and his friends there, like the rest of us, still miss him terribly. I felt I could get some really good information on Daddy’s impact on our family from letters we all sent him when he turned 90. In part here are some excerpts from those letters and what we told the celebrating church:
“Gene asked if we could say a few words about Daddy. Talking about Daddy is hard to do in a few words, but I have to start with Daddy AND Mama. They were an inseparable team for about 72 years held together by love and their love for the Lord. What you saw on Sunday morning were willing servants who faithfully executed just about every job in Second Baptist Church. Most recently, I guess they were the church treasurers together, but their church resume is much deeper. Daddy was a deacon for longer than I remember, Sunday School teacher, choir director, youth choir director; Mama played the piano and sang in the choir as long as I can remember. I would venture a guess that when Daddy was called home last May he was likely the longest tenured member of the church- but that’s just a guess.
And what you saw each Sunday was the same as what you saw Monday through Saturday. When Daddy turned 90 our family wrote him letters to express our love and appreciation for his influence on our lives. The underlying theme of many of those letters was his selfless love, integrity and character:
…selfless unconditional love for me and every other member of your family
…it is hard to imagine one of you without the other…I have never seen either of you use a harsh word or act in any way which is unloving, unkind or inconsiderate- qualities many marriages do not have today.
…integrity and character are unquestionable; he is kind and patient to everyone…He and Mama laid the foundation that has held firm through the euphoric highs and devastating lows of life…selfless love
…we will always be influenced by the gifts of the Spirit that each and every one of us see in you and want to emulate: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self-control. I have never seen a more complete manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit than in Daddy.
…you have set the bar high as an example of how we should treat others and love God.
Our niece’s husband probably summed it up best when he said… as I see you turning 90, I am left with the strange feeling that I am the only one who has aged. Because what strikes me most about you is not some singular indelible memory that towers above all others, but rather the steadfast consistency that, like a gentle breeze often goes unnoticed. We have shared holidays and anniversaries, births and deaths, marriages and separations and all the life that happens in between. And in each event you are the same: faithful, kind, patient. The very definition of love. You see it is absolutely true what Maya Angelou once said, ‘at the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you make them feel.’
And Daddy made sure we all felt special.”