I'll be heading to the Midwest tomorrow for the express purpose of saying goodbye to my father, Cecil, who died today at the age of 90.
He was married at seventeen; a father at eighteen. He went to college full-time, worked simultaneously to support his growing family, and heard the call to the ordained ministry. Ordained an Evangelical United Brethren pastor, he became an United Methodist pastor when the two denominations merged in 1968.
He dutifully and lovingly brought up my sisters and brothers as Bible-believing Christians to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbor as ourselves. We memorized the names of the books of the (Protestant) Bible and scores of scripture passages, so that our cognizant minds were littered and haunted by Sacred Scripture. All five of us strayed, but all returned to faith in Jesus as Our Lord.
His devotion to God's Kingdom was unflagging; his willingness to preach the Gospel in season and out embarrassingly steadfast; his disagreement with my conversion to Catholicism tolerating and loving, if comprehending not. If anything, the virtues became more and more evident in his life the older and feebler he became.
He took us to cool places on camping vacations, like Yellowstone's Old Faithful (cf. photo above). He never earned more than $20,000 a year in all of his years, yet we never went without, never felt we were poor. He never was in debt.
He was part of what Brokaw called "the greatest generation." We will not see the likes of them - or him - again.