Saturday, June 16, 2012

 

Father's Day: A Repost

With Fathers' Day coming up tomorrow, I couldn't think of any better way to honor my Dad than to repost something I wrote some years ago.  You see, my Dad passed away in 2004, just before I had the privilege of coming to work for Liberty University.  You see, it was always my Dad's dream that I would get to go to Liberty, but you would not believe how excited he was to know that I would be teaching there! 

My Dad was quite a man, and almost everyone who ever met him loved him.  He could tell some of the funniest stories, but most of all he kept us connected to the history of his family.  To be honest, I miss him, and I would love an opportunity just to hear his stories all over again. Some of you never knew him, and I am genuinely sorry. He enriched the lives of so many with his infectious smile and easy generosity. I feel so much poorer without him, but I know heaven is richer. I love you, Dad.

I first wrote this in 2005, but it speaks volumes about my memories of my dad, Bobbie Eugene Percer, Sr. My dad was a hero to me in many ways, and I am terribly sorry that I never told him that to his face. At his funeral in 2004, literally hundreds of people stood in line for hours to tell us of the way my dad had blessed them. I heard stories of dad witnessing to people and leading them to the Lord, stories of dad giving money or clothes or time or work in order to help someone else find a better path in life, stories of my dad going out of his way to help others, etc. It humbled me. I had no idea how "big" a man my father was, how much of a blessing he was to many people. My dad left some mighty big shoes, and I hope I can be half the man he was. With that in mind, here is the first thing I wrote about my dad way back in 2005.

With Father's day coming up this weekend, I wanted to share some thoughts about my Father. You see, my father passed away in August 2004, and for many reasons thoughts of him have been central in my mind recently. I’m afraid I’m losing him.

Let me explain.

My dad wasn’t very active the last few years of life. Due to his own lack of proper care for his physical body and a host of problems with illness, the primary memory my children have of their grandfather is dad sitting in a big lounger watching TV and occasionally waking up long enough to tease them.

My children did not get to know my dad. Oh, my dad was never the most active guy in the world (I think I know where my own lack of activity comes from!), but he didn’t sit around a lot as I remember it. Dad coached baseball, football, basketball, if it had “ball” in the title, he learned it, played it, and probably coached it. My dad cared about folks that no one else wanted. He loved kids, especially his own. I once saw my dad kick a field goal from the 45 yard line (that’s a 55 yard kick, if you didn’t know!). I was in high school then, so dad was probably in his mid-40s. He could kick the ball further than the place kicker on our team.

I remember looking for dad’s vehicle to pull up at the football practice field. I don’t know if he knew that I saw him, but I looked for him to show up so I could perform for him. Dad didn’t get real excited about sports (that was mom’s job!), but you could tell when he was enjoying something. He had this infectious grin and mischievous smile that would literally light up his face. I heard that for almost 10 years after my younger brother graduated high school, dad would make his way to the practice field and sit in his car and watch the players go through their paces. For me, his watching was a comforting presence that reminded me that he was there if I needed him. Oh, I’ll admit that I didn’t “need” him as much as he would like, but it made me feel real good to know dad was there.

I miss him.

Sometimes in my work here, I think that dad is sitting in heaven, in his heavenly lounger, watching his boy perform. Oh, I’m not blindsiding running backs and quarterbacks any more, but I can’t help but think that dad is silently cheering for me. He sits there, intently studying me as I pace a classroom or teach a class or grade a paper. When I make a particularly brilliant play, he smiles that smile. Even when I don’t do so well, dad looks approvingly on his boy. I can see him, sitting there, a big glass of sweet tea on the table, a smile in his eyes, and joy in his heart. I want to make him proud, and I think he knows that.

My last words to my dad face-to-face were spoken around Easter of 2004. I don’t remember everything we discussed, but I remember putting my arm around his shoulders and looking into that face. His eyes were a bit dimmed by senility due to old age and strokes. But somewhere in those eyes I saw the place kicker kicking a field goal from the 45 yard line. I remember saying this to him, “Dad, I love you. I’ll see you later.” At his funeral in August 2004, the pastor asked me to pray at the grave site (actually, my mother asked me to do it). As I walked away from dad’s coffin, I touched the lid and said, “I love you, dad, see you later.”

I miss him, but thank God I will see him later. If your father is alive, call him up. Tell him you appreciate him and love him. Memories are great, but I’d love to have my dad here to hug again. He’s much better off, but I need his smile. Dad, I love you. See you later!

Thanks for reading!

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