I attended a funeral today. The husband of a friend at church had passed away, after 91 years of life. I knew his wife much better than I knew him. They had been married for over 60 years. Because she is a wonderful person, and I knew anyone that she loved would have to be pretty special, he was on my list of people that I wish I knew better. I won’t have that chance anymore, but after listening to the things that his family and friends said about him, the memories they shared, I feel that I know him better now that he is gone, than I did while he was alive.
One of the things that came up, over and over again, was that he LIVED his life. He taught his children – girls and boys – to hunt, fish, and enjoy sports. He told stories about his war experiences – at least, some of them. He lived a life of service, and offered an example of living for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He was injured in the war, and spent most of the rest of his life disabled as a result. None-the-less, he continued to provide for his family. He worked as a rural mail carrier for a while – and his children remember that he made sure everyone on his route got their Christmas packages – even if they hadn’t come in yet. His daughter recounted how, at an early age, when she picked pecans, she was allowed to sell them and keep the money for herself. As a result, she learned the value of labor. He would buy old bicycles, repair them, and resell them at low prices – if he didn’t just outright give them away to families who otherwise couldn’t afford them. Although his war injury did not allow him to resume playing sports after the war, he became a coach, and even installed a regulation baseball field in one of his pastures so he could provide a place to play for his friends and neighbors. One son talked of his father’s legacy, and how, when he does this or that, he knows that he is passing his father’s legacy down to his own children and grandchildren. Of all the wonderful things that were said about him – some I knew about and had experienced myself, others I had not heard before; the one that has stayed with me the most was when one of his sons said this: “…He was a Man’s Man, and he taught us how to respect women.”
A man’s man. We have too few of those in the world today. Too few men will take the responsibility for being the best they can be, for living life to the fullest, in the best ways, for striving to improve themselves, for respecting women, for raising their children to live life. A man’s man. Someone who wasn’t afraid of disability, responsibility, of emotion, of commitment. I hope the legacy that he has left to his children and his grandchildren will be passed down for generations to come.