One of the greatest influences in my life was my Dad. I mention him in this blog, because I started thinking about him again as I often do in relation to woodworking. My Father was a woodworking enthusiast just like me. But since I came to this after he died, I never had the chance to discuss woodworking as one enthusiast to another, the way TimberJocks do.
I often question in my mind, “I wonder what Dad would think of this or that piece?” Or wish I could ask him how he would do something – like “Dad, do you cut the tails or pins first?”
Most men find it difficult to express their inner thoughts, especially to their dads. But after listening to some men speak of the missed opportunity of doing so after their fathers had passed away, I penned the following to my DAD.
I post this very personal letter in the hope that, if not too late, you too, may be motivated to write your Dad. Perhaps you could be thinking of this well before the next Father’s day.
You will note when reading, that I also used it as a eulogy to my Father at his funeral.
30 January 1999
Dear Friends, on behalf of my Mother, my brother and sister, and the entire family, I appreciate your attendance at this service as we meet to honor my Dad and our Lord he so faithfully served. Dad’s express wishes were that everyone know that he had a very blessed life – and his faithful wife was one of his chief blessings.
What I am about to read to you is a letter I recently wrote to my father without any understanding of the events that were soon to unfold. Whilst this is an intensely personal letter that reflects the thoughts of my heart, upon conferring with my brother and sister, it expresses their sentiments also.
We are sharing this with you, because, perhaps it reflects a side of our father that you may not have known.
At a recent evening church service the pastor asked three men to give testimony to the influence of their fathers in their lives. All three men gave glowing accounts of the many ways in which their fathers had shaped their lives, of the importance of their father’s example and the many different memories they had of their Christian influence.
But the thing that struck me most was the fact that two of these men expressed regret that they had not fully communicated their appreciation to their fathers. Dad, I do not want to find myself in their shoes some day. The things these men had to say moved me very much. There they were – so appreciative of their Dads, but feeling great remorse that they were unable to tell them.
So, Dad, I write this letter.
You are probably unaware of how frequently I think of you. I suppose a day seldom goes by that I don’t do so. When a problem comes up I want to call you and ask for advice, you are always so helpful and seem to know just what to do. Or I just want your opinion on something. You always bring a fresh perspective to any question. I can even recall that I’ve actually called you all the way from Australia in pursuit of a correct spelling. I could have asked someone else, but you have long known my poor spelling ability. Why would I want anyone else to know – and you never make me feel foolish or inadequate.
But the times I think of you most are when I ask myself, “What would Dad do in this situation?” I try to imagine how you would handle the major and minor challenges that come into my life. I can sometimes hear your advice without even having to ask. I have often thought I cannot go too far wrong if I do what I think you would do in any given situation.
I think back to my early childhood. How I would, with careless abandon, jump off the shed roof into your outstretched arms, with no fear, never once thinking I was taking a risk because I was confident that you would never let me go. What a wonderful picture this is of our heavenly father’s love and care for us. In this childhood experience, you were teaching me even then that God would keep me and never let me go.
Then there were the little adventures we delighted in. Our walks in Penticton to ‘Cowboy Country’ when I was still a child. You were my hero as you stood your ground against wild Indians and desperate outlaws. Pork and beans cooked in the tin over an open fire – never has a gourmet meal tasted so good since.
When a teen, there were walks in the woods with the family as we went on fishing excursions to mountain lakes. Opportunity to talk, share, and laugh, and as always, to learn. You were ever the teacher – drawing from the experience of life – teaching, as Scripture says precept upon precept. The day you swam across the lake as Bryon and I paddled by your side in air mattresses – it seemed then, and still does in my memory, like a marathon event.
I remember with delight how you make everything in life an adventure. You always heightened our anticipation of even the most ordinary events. You wove a story around each, and established routines whereby the whole family could participate in your adventures. Together, with you, we went through your many stages of life-interests: photography, farming, academic studies, Bible teaching, church leadership, boating, fine woodworking, film making – the list goes on.
You taught me how to think on my feet. You would challenge us to suggest any topic and you would speak on it for five minutes. You instilled self-confidence in us, the ability to speak in public, and the desire to do our best at whatever we did. You used to say, “Even if you are digging a ditch we should do so to the very best of our ability and to the honour and glory of God”. You taught us that there was nothing in life that we could not do if we put our mind to it.
Of course, Dad, the one area of my life I owe most to you is your example as a Christian father. You never waver, never compromise, never say one thing and do another. Many have been the times that you have discussed matters of faith with each of us. At your feet, I completed ‘seminary’ before I completed high-school, for so often our meal conversation was about faith issues and doctrinal matters. You gave me a hunger for the Word, and a desire to be a student of Scriptures, and perhaps even a lay Bible teacher, just like you. What impresses me most about you is the consistency between what you say and what you do.
Dad, of course you know I have learned all I know about being a father as I have observe you interact with each of us. Your tenderness towards Mom and Anne – the countless ways by which you model sacrificial love. You have never stopped courting Mom, it is your practice to take Anne on dates, and she cannot walk through a room of her home without being reminded by the many things you made for her in your workshop. Your love and care for your Grandchildren – what an important part of your life they are – and you of theirs.
These are practical signs of your love for us. But I am also very much aware that you have spent many hours on your knees with Mom bringing to God your heart-felt concerns for your children and grandchildren. The phrase ‘man of prayer’ is most appropriate to you. Thank-you, Dad.
I know that your commitment to serving God, was, in part, born out of an experience when as a young father you knelt at my hospital bedside and bargained with God to spare my eyesight in exchange for a lifetime of never saying ‘no’ to opportunities of service. And I know you have never once broken your pledge which to you is a sacred trust. You are a living example of the kind of Christian man I want to be.
But I cannot do justice to you without honoring the wonderful example you have been as a husband. Completely devoted to Mom, always showing her how much you love her in so many, many ways. Dad, I doubt that I will ever know a man who after more than fifty-eight years of marriage is so completely and absolutely devoted as you are to Mom. Of course, an equal portion of credit for this belongs to Mom as well.
I still seek your approval. And though I am now a mature adult, your blessing on the things I do has always been, and remains very important to me. Whilst there have been times when I found your black and white view of life maddening, there have never been times where I doubt your love for me or the rest of our family. There have been times when I wish you were less clinical, more emotional, but there have never been times when I felt you did not honour my self-esteem. You have not always agreed with the things I’ve said, or the decisions I’ve made, but you have never criticized the choices I’ve made. You always make sure my self-worth is intact. You treat each member of our family in the same thoughtful and tender way
Dad, you are a man of principle, a man of conviction, and a man of great integrity. Please know that I affirm you as a man, love you as a son and am and will always be thankful to God for you.
Your loving and appreciative son, Don.
-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/