Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
John was not a perfect man. No one knew that any better than he did himself.
He’d come up hardscrabble. At the time, he really hadn’t thought much about how poor his family was. He lived in a dugout in the desert, and had the freedom to roam, hunt, just be. So the poverty generated by the Crash of 1929 wasn’t much of a hardship for him.
Later, he would tell his own children stories of how he grew up. He talked about the sandwiches he took to school: Homemade bread spread with bacon drippings.
Ugh. Not the bread. We still prefer homemade bread. But bacon drippings?
He talked about his dog, and he talked about the move, later on, to Colorado where he met the girl he would marry. He talked very little about the war years, his time on a submarine and the wonderful day when his boat was in Tokyo Bay for the signing of the peace treaty with Japan. He couldn’t see a thing, but he was there.
School had been something John had to do in order to play basketball. Flat-footed, he’d had to tape his feet so that he couldn’t put them down flat on the floor. He thought it gave him more speed. He suffered for it later, but those basketball games were wonderful memories for him.
Home from the war, John wasn’t sure of his direction. He’d become angry at God during the war years, but God had a purpose for John and He never let go of that. In time, John submitted to the hand of God on his life and went to Bible college. He had to study Greek and Hebrew, and his daughters remember him pacing ’round and ’round the dining room table as he memorized verb conjugations and vocabulary that made very little sense to him at the time. They knew to stay out of his way.
John had a temper. His own father had been a stern disciplinarian with his two older sons, and John carried the anger from what we’d probably call abuse today. John expected to never be questioned, never be disobeyed. When those expectations weren’t met, he could be pretty scary. He was never abusive, especially by the standards of the ’50’s and ’60’s, but he didn’t hesitate to deal with any situation however he felt he needed to.
As he aged, and his family grew up, moved out, married, had children of their own, John developed heart disease. His love of all cholesterol-raising foods and his lack of exercise in his later years made him a pretty sick man. In his illness, though, he changed from the hard-driving, stern taskmaster he’d been for so many years. His more melancholy side began to show, and he mellowed. He was especially tender toward his son’s two children, who lived close by.
The legacy he left was sometimes paradoxical, but never boring. He was an old-fashioned fire and brimstone preacher at times. His true strength was his ability to teach the hard things of God’s Word to make them simple. His legacy included an abiding love for his high school sweetheart, and a love of God and God’s Word. He is not remembered for his humor, but for his enjoyment of other people’s humor. And, as he aged, he learned to laugh at himself. It was a good thing, because he was often the creator of a belly laugh for others without ever meaning to be.
Where he loved, he loved deeply. He wasn’t very good at speaking love, except to his wife. He was, instead, a typical man of his era who lived out his love in provision for his family and his dedication to the people he pastored.
His legacy would be seen differently by each of his three children. No child in a multiple-child family is ever reared by the exact same set of parents, so each child’s perspective is different from the other. When his children said their final goodbyes to him, they all knew one thing for sure: There would never be anyone else like him. Right or wrong, he was unique