My Dad Died a Hero to Many   16 comments

My father’s mind began to wane several years ago, and friends encouraged him to give up writing and preaching.  He acquiesced begrudgingly since losing his public ministry made him feel useless.  When visiting him, one of those friends  would ask, “How are you?” and dad would always say, “Terrible!”  “Why?”  “Because I’m still alive!”  He was ready to “go home” and last week he finally did.  I expect he was greeted with my mom’s loud, raucous laughter echoing through the halls of heaven.

Family, friends, and colleagues remembered him with admiration at his funeral.  He was a good man and a gifted leader, a hero to many.  Years ago he asked me if I had any heroes, anyone I admired and sought to emulate.  He expected me to point to him and was sad when I didn’t.  Though I respect him, I cannot emulate him any more than an ostrich can emulate an eagle.  An ostrich hatched by an eagle would simply be lost and confused and self-condemning as long as he tried to imitate the eagle, and all the eagle’s encouragement, advice, and example on how to be a better eagle would only make matters worse.

To his credit, dad eventually made room for my way of being, though he couldn’t understand it.  He tried to understand, but he was stuck in his own framework of thinking, as though the eagle saw his ostrich son running and interpreted it to be “low flying” or “slow take-off.”  His efforts to accommodate my way of being were inspired by love.  Instead of treating me like a deformed eagle, he accepted me as a mystery (because he was unable to grasp the idea of an ostrich).  I’m forever grateful that he did not condemn me for who I am and how I live.  For that reason, although our viewpoints were so contrary, we were never estranged.

And yet we drifted apart.  As I slowly discovered my true self and tried to share it with him, I could not make it comprehensible to him.  He could not see outside his own box, and so our relationship devolved into general, disconnected niceties because real relationship requires mutual understanding.  Over the years, I have grieved the loss of that relationship as I think he did, and so his home-going was only the final step in that loss.  It is sad, but the tears have long since run their course.  When I see him again, he will see me for who I am, and that is cause for rejoicing.

In the meantime I will give him his well-deserved honor.  God made him an eagle and he was determined to be the best eagle he could be and raise up a huge flock of eagles to follow in his flight.  He was admirably successful.  For that he will be remembered for a generation.  I am glad for those he blessed.

 

 

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16 responses to “My Dad Died a Hero to Many

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  1. Honest respect!

  2. Powerful! And you move forward, inspiring many other ostriches.

  3. your words are very touching. great illustration. ( i don’t know you janathan but you know my sister kathy grimm morris.)

  4. What a way to honor your father even though you guys disagreed on many levels.

  5. Honoring, honest and truthful, respectful, meaningful, powerful, special, acceptable, thankful, and a work in progress. P

  6. Sorry for your loss! We do tend to “idolize” Christian leaders….thanks for your honesty!

  7. Thank you!

  8. I have wondered about and prayed for your heart on this. Thanks for sharing. I think I’m neither an eagle nor an ostrich. Maybe a sparrow? Anyway, I am grateful for your father’s ministry, and also for that of the son he raised. To God be the glory.

    Kristen (Irwin) Poteet
  9. Janathan, I haven’t been keeping up with your blogging, but a friend told me about your father’s death and I wanted to wish you my sympathy. I am thinking of you and admire every ostrich feather you wear. Peace.

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