Tag Archives: dad

My dad is not afraid to die

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Me at the hospital.

He fell and broke his hip yesterday. He’s 88.

I was thunderstruck by his declaration today when I came to the hospital. He’s never been a gung-ho Christian. He didn’t even go to church. But he confessed to be a Christian. He said he was envious of Mom, who died quickly, suddenly of a massive heart attack. He said he was ready to go — even, he wanted to go.

Of course, I argued that such feelings were foolishness. We — my brother and I and our wives and families — don’t want him to go. But he sees no point of lingering with the body breaking down. He says he never imagined living for so long.

A year ago, he was hospitalized, and it was a wake-up call for me to neglect my professional duties some to dedicate more time to him. I started visiting once a week. I’ve learned things I never knew: about his time in the Army in Korea post WW2, his studies at Berkeley, his previous girlfriends. He’s tipped me off to great stories about Christian golfers and tennis players that I’ve parlayed into articles for God Reports. The man I didn’t have much of a relationship with since I was a youth and he didn’t talk to me began to figure centrally in my life.

When my mom died 10 years ago, I had an incredible peace, not just because she was a Christian but because I felt I had learned so many lessons from her that I was putting into practice in my life. From Mom, I learned to love and serve God above everything. She was a chaplain in the Sylmar juvenile hall, and I was a missionary in Guatemala.

For the first time ever, my dad seems to have gotten excited about the service I render to the Lord. I was telling him (before his fall) about a student in my class that came to our high school from the public system, where he was a trouble-maker, a fighter and who knows what else. Now, he’s reading the literature and making intelligent contributions to the class. My secret educational tool is to believe in the kids. Maybe no one ever believed in him before. Now he is responding.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen it register on Dad’s face that this work, though miserably remunerated, is gloriously valuable. Could it be that facing eternity, the man who hammered financial stability is finally understanding true value?

No doubt, my dad will recover from this second hospitalization. He won’t like the transition for physical therapy at the nursing home. But he’ll probably get home.

But he won’t be with us forever. Will I have learned from him everything I needed to?

 

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The most advanced fighter was made by crashing

success through failureWhen my dad was young, he made a model plane. It crashed on its first flight. He went home discouraged.

But he kept tinkering with planes and eventually became and engineer at Lockheed’s secret skunkworks working on the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter. The project was dubbed “hopeless diamond” because fly-ability was made extremely difficult by the separate small faces of its surface that didn’t reflect enough radar to register on a screen.

The non-streamline surface made it so un-fly-able that it crashed on its first flight. I remember my dad couldn’t sleep for like a week from the stress. At the time, I of course had no idea about the ultra-secret project.

On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my dad’s example. How is success achieved? Through repeated failures. Failure is a stepping stone.

Half throttle was to blame

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Dad and my brother, Don

My dad didn’t like football. He liked experimenting in Grandpa’s shop. He once tested if water conducted electricity and got a huge shock because he touched the metal water basin. There was no longer any need to put the second wire in the water to see if the light bulb lit up. Not only did the water conduct electricity, the basin did too.

One time he made model plane to fly. This was before the days of remote controls. You sent it up, it flew, and when it ran out of gas, it glided down. After days of laboring, he enthusiastically took his plane to an empty field in Glendale. He timidly set it at half throttle.

It took off and promptly crashed and broke. A plane, like the Christian, cannot get enough lift out of its wings without enough velocity. If you’re going to soar, you’re going to have to go all in.