Remembering Dad on Fathers Day: Passing on a Legacy

A good friend will spend this fathers day weekend eulogizing his dad. My brother-in-law did the same for his father 2 months ago.  It’s hard to loose a parent and keep it together enough to speak at the funeral. I spoke at my dad’s funeral 16 years ago. Writing those words were hard and sharing them even harder.  But I got through it and I’m glad I did it. Friends and family tell me they still remember the inspiring stories.  But the words had the most impact on me.

My Dad, Jack M Boyd, Sr

My Dad, Jack M Boyd, Sr

Fathers have an important responsibility to teach and affirm their children, especially their sons.  Standing up for my Dad that day was an opportunity for me to remember what Dad really taught my sister and me and accept the responsibility to do the same for my children. This Fathers Day, if you have a good relationship with your father, thank him for what he’s taught you.  If your father is deceased, share those lessons and legacy with your children.  And when that time comes in the future when you have to decide, ‘do I stand up for my dad,’ I hope you will. My dad battled brain cancer the last three months of his life and we had an incredible opportunity to walk together through that physical and spiritual journey together.  He wanted to ‘write a book’ during those last days so my words at his funeral became his ‘book.’ The words are still hard for me to read but I hope Dad’s story will inspire you.

Remembering Dad –  Jack Monroe Boyd, Sr.

January 15, 1925 – January 9, 1998

Eulogy by Jack Monroe Boyd, Jr, January 12, 1998

From his years growing up in East Point to the past three years Mom and Dad have lived in Alpharetta, Dad ‘s life touched many, many people.   I heard Mom say yesterday that she knew how wonderful a man Dad was — she just didn’t know how many people felt the same way!

After Dad got sick last October, we had the opportunity to talk about many things.  Friends would stop by or call and afterwards Dad would tell me how they had met and knew each other.   I learned a lot about my Dad that I didn’t know — mostly how much his friends and family loved and respected him.  Those stories plus what Mom, Jill and I experienced first hand are a testimony to Dad’s gifts of love, friendship, generosity and service to others.

Many memories stand out to me about my Dad’s life.   I want to share with you some of those along with some experiences that wrote the last chapter in Dad’s life during the last three months.

As a Husband

Dad took seriously his role as husband and later father.  He cared for Mom  — and she cared for him.  They were partners  – walking in step with each other in every way.  Anyone who observed their life could see how they served each other over themselves.  Mom would often say how few disagreements she and Dad really had — and of course Dad would agree with her.

Dad joked sometimes about how Mom and her sister, Joy, could laugh at anything.  Maybe he didn’t realize how much he and Mom truly had laughed, too.   I would go visit, Mom and Dad would be smiling and Dad would say, “Well are you going to tell him or am I?”   I would smile and Dad would tell me something silly he or Mom had done or said and how they laughed and laughed.   While Dad was sick, they laughed even more.  Dad said,  “you got to be able to laugh at things — even in tough times”.

As a Father and Grandfather

If you know my sister, you know how special Dad was to her.  And you also knew that if you did or said anything against “Daddy”, she’d come after you (or even me) like a mother lion protecting her cub.   There was no question in our minds of Dad’s love for us — he told us often and showed us in many ways.  When we were growing up, those ways revolved around sports.  Jill and I played sports and Dad played with us.  He was right there with us as coach, league commissioner or grounds crew .  I can never remember a time when he just sat in the stands.   He always had an encouraging word and always told us how proud he was of us.  And because Dad did what he did –  we saw him touch the lives of our friends and their parents — many of those becoming lifelong friends.

Dad’s grandchildren loved going to his house — whether it was to help him in the yard, help him build a project or just play with Dad’s toys (Dad had some pretty neat toys).  He loved to watch Kristin, Steffy and Nathan play ball games.  He was also not ashamed to offer a little coaching advice to yours truly.  Dad loved to watch Paige, Jill’s daughter, dance and perform – whether at a ballet practice or at home performing the HAT-HAT song.

All his grandchildren were proud of their ‘Dada’ and talked about him a lot.  One day my son Nathan was telling a friend of ours about his granddad.  He said, ‘Boy, you should see how many metals my granddad earned in the civil war!  Our friend said, ‘are you sure you’re talking about the civil war?.  “Oh yes,” Nathan said, “Dada is very, very old.”   Dad loved that story.

At Work and in the Community

When I was young, Dad told me he went to work to make money.   I thought he worked at a machine all day pressing out pennies.  I didn’t realize then that along with a business, he was building lifelong friendships.  Dad had a special heart for his work at Artcraft and the people he worked with.  I’ve learned in the last few years how much he was loved and admired by those he worked with — both inside and outside of Artcraft.   You don’t see many businesses these days that show that kind of return.

Dad made friends all along life’s journey.  He knew the life history of the chimney sweep that cleaned his chimney and the business aspirations of the person that fertilized his lawn.  Genuine interest and an encouraging word were his calling card.   And he didn’t stop when he got sick — he opened his heart to his doctors, nurses and anyone that crossed his path.

In His Last Months  

Last October, a new chapter of his life opened when the doctor told him he had a brain tumor and that it looked like cancer. It knocked Dad completely off his feet.  He came up realizing that only God could help him through this.   And he reopened a chapter of his life that had been closed and sitting on the shelf for a long time.

He began to look for answers from God’s word and found this passage from Isaiah 43:1-3:

“Don’t be afraid, because I have saved you.  I have called you by name and you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you cross rivers, you will not drown.  When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flames hurt you.  This is because I, the Lord, am your God, the holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  

God’s promise to walk through life’s trials with us was a great comfort to Dad.  He believed God could help him, but would He?  How could he be sure? It had been a long time since Dad had really studied the Bible.  What is his part of the deal? This was no time to ignore the fine print!   Max Lucado in his book, He Still Moves Stones, says, 

“Growing old can be dangerous.  The trail is treacherous and the pitfalls many.  One is wise to be prepared.  You know it’s coming.  It’s not like God is keeping the process a secret.  It’s not like you are blazing a trail as you grow older.  It’s not as if no one has ever done it before.  Look around you.  You have ample case studies to consider.  If growing old catches you by surprise, don’t blame God.  He gave you plenty of warning.  He also gave you plenty of advice.”

As we read the scriptures together, he found the answers — some in familiar verses, others in verses he had not thought about in a long time:

God’s force in salvation is His grace, not our feelings, not our talents, not our works.   Galatians 2:8 says: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God — not by works, that no one can boast.” 

We can’t work our way into God’s favor or heaven no matter how hard we try.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.

But God gave us good news!  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Believing in Jesus Christ, as God’s Son and Savior, turning from your sins, loving him and giving your heart to him is our part of the deal. 

That’s the fine print.  No acts of greatness — just a love relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  

A Recommitment of Life

Dad recommitted his life to Jesus Christ and leaned on God’s promise to walk with him and deliver him through these rough waters.  And  we began to see the evidence of God working in mighty ways. 

Dad said he felt God’s love in a way he never had before.  God’s love filled his heart and it overflowed to others.  If you talked to Dad during those last days, you heard an emotional story about the what God was doing in his life.  He developed a thirst to hear and read God’s word.  He went to church twice after that with us and said church had never felt so comfortable.  He regretted not reopening this chapter of his life earlier.

There were also the tough times when he had pain, and doubts of God’s presence started to creep in.  We leaned on God’s promises and prayed, asking God to let us know he was still with us.  God answered our prayers.

Early one morning after we prayed that prayer, I awoke unexpectedly at 4:00 a.m. and felt a strong need to pray for Dad.   I prayed for 30 minutes and went downstairs not able to go back to sleep.  When I visited with Dad the next day, he said he had a very rough night and wanted to call me to come over and pray with him.  He didn’t though, not wanting to wake me up at 4:00 in the morning.  I told him he didn’t have to — God got the message to me.

Only one other morning during those three months did I wake up unexpectedly:  I thought I heard my son, Nathan, stirring and got up around 4:30 a.m. to check on him.  As I  was returning to bed, the phone rang.  Mom was calling, apologized for waking me and told me that Dad wanted me to come over.   I told her I was already up.

When I got there, Mom told me that Dad had a seizure earlier that night, the first reoccurrence since October.  We talked and prayed again for God to let us know he was still with us.  As I returned to my home at 5:30 a.m., I found two of my children, Steffy and Nathan, awake — pretty unusual for a school day.   I didn’t tell them I was at Dad’s because I didn’t want to worry them.  I jumped back in bed and told them to go back to sleep.

Later that morning as we were dressing for work and school, Nathan came into my room and showed me a picture he had drawn for Dad. Instead of going back to sleep, he had drawn a picture for Dad — a picture of the nativity with Jesus in the manager.  He and I took it over to Dad that morning and Dad and I wept, thanking God for his faithfulness and answering our prayer.

As he drifted in and out of consciousness  that final week, he awoke telling me that he had been dreaming about Easter morning.  I thanked God again for being faithful to his promise and answering our prayer.

His Last Words

If you had been able to see Dad in those final days, he may have told you one of the last things he told his grandchildren “keep Christ in your heart”.

If you put the Bible on a shelf years ago like my Dad did, dust if off, read the fine print and look for and expect God to show you how he is working around you.

If you have never opened that chapter in your life, do it now! Don’t wait!  Consider the testimony of my Dad’s life and the power of God that enables me to stand here before you today.  Read the fine print, listen to the voice of God and experience the wonders of a relationship with the living God!

His Final Prayer

I close with a verse from Psalm 71:17-18 that characterizes the final prayer of Dad’s life:

“God, you have taught me since I was young.

To this day I tell about the miracles you do.

Even though I am old and gray,

do not leave me, God.

I will tell the children about your power;

I will tell those who live after me about your might.”

Psalm 71:17-18

Dad left us a great legacy — the last chapter, the best.