(Note that this is being posted a few days late. Seems I could not get comfort in my reflections and compiling my thoughts. Here it is.)
My father passed away more than twenty years ago. I think I can honestly say I never did have a close relationship with him. Not a bad one either. It was what it was. He died the day after his 66th birthday. By all standards that is too young. Of course, back then, I figured 66 to be a ripe old age. I hated to watch him deteriorate. Cancer is a wicked disease.
Back then I was a young father. My kids were too young to understand. I thought the sickness and death was unfair. I found ways to cope. In retrospect I realize that I was not utilizing the right coping skills. Coping skills that just got me deeper into a darkness, a time of life I would just as soon forget. But I was cool about it. Tough. Crap happens. So be it.
Because of a certain post on facebook I am reflecting on my father. After all it is father’s day this weekend. In the spirit of openness and transparency, not sure how or why that happened, I will reflect. As interesting as it may be I have never before realized that my life mirrors the life of my father. I, too, began farming at a relatively young age. I, too, was involved in evangelism, although not of the religious type. I was involved in agricultural politics. Preaching about collective marketing, risk management, etc, etc. It was during my farming experience I came to realize that there was other work I could do, and was naturally suited to do. I recall one person telling me that perhaps I never had been a farmer. Although I was initially upset with that comment I realized quickly that he had a valid point.
Of course, thinking about that could well make a person really upset. Lots of thinking back. Regrets. However, there have been friends in my past who have challenged me to get over it. Realize that without my experiences I could not be who I am. Not be as effective with the work I do. Not have had an impact on others. Perhaps those are the same thoughts my father had as he transitioned from one career to another. That makes him a mentor.
What I remember most about my father is that he was a pastor. Sure, he farmed as well, but that was only a means to an end. Although I never realized it, I don’t think his heart was in farming. His heart was in reaching out to others, particularly the less fortunate. He ended up doing chaplaincy work. Having conversations with inmates in various penal institutions. He enjoyed that. That was life for him. Sharing a personal faith but also listening and understanding when others talked to him. It broadened his own faith. It gave him a totally different perspective on life and faith. He began to see the world in a different way.
That makes me wish to have my father back for just a fleeting moment. I know he would be proud of where my life has taken me. I know he would be proud of the work I do. I know he would be proud of what I have accomplished. He would challenge my thoughts on everything from kids to faith to life. It would be so nice to have that one chat with him. Just one. Share some war stories, get some questions answered. Share a laugh.
I suspect that will not happen any time soon. What I can do is become more aware of who my father was. I have been remiss in not reflecting more. Understanding more. Although his life was cut short he showed me a path. It just took me too long to realize that. Here is to more reflection on a mentor. Here is hoping I can be a mentor for my kids. Happy Father’s Day. Make it a good one.