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14 Jul

A Gentleman’s Legacy

elbert001

 

It’s been almost two months since my father passed away.

Yesterday would have been his 86th birthday. And as I sit and reflect on his life and influence on me, I realize that the thing that most touches me is that he was a gentleman.

He held doors for women. He walked between me and traffic. He pulled out my mother’s chair. He taught my brothers what it meant to treat women right and he taught me how to expect a man to treat me.

We didn’t always see eye to eye.

In fact, during my teenage years (my rebellion), I didn’t even like him very much. But I always admired and loved him, nonetheless. I was proud that he was my dad, proud of the way he acted and looked the part of a gentleman. And while I was running around with people of dubious character behind his back, I never forgot what he represented.

He grew up in a family of faith, with a preacher for a father.

Somewhere along the way, he quit going to church and living his faith out loud. But he never let us forget the difference between right and wrong, and how to treat people with respect. In the end, a year or so before his death, he admitted to me that he was a believer, that he looked forward to being in heaven with Christ when he died. That meant the world to me.

He was generous and kind, but full of jokes and pranks, too.

Nothing delighted him more than finding himself the butt end of a joke, and the laugh lines on his face were deep. He could really put out the teasing, but he could take it, too.

I’ll never forget the year a friend gave him a live pig for his birthday. He reciprocated by giving her a monkey! And then there was the time he took a cow in another friend’s kitchen. (Somehow, though, he didn’t see the humor in it when I brought a pony in the house on our slate floors!)

All in all, I feel very blessed to have been raised by this man. He wasn’t perfect (who of us are?).

But he was a gentleman.

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