Exodus 20:12 (NLT)
12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
Today is my dad’s 80th birthday. We spent the weekend together in Hot Springs, Arkansas with my parents along with my sisters and their husbands celebrating this wonderful occasion. I realize how blessed I am to still have both of my parents living at my age. I know so many of my friends who have had parents pass away. I just haven’t had to experience that yet.
As I think about my relationship with my dad, I have so many fond memories. I remember at the age of six, I got for Christmas my basketball goal. Dad taught me how to shoot the basketball properly even at such an early age. The goal was 10ft high even for me as a six year old. My dad was not in favor of short cuts at all. Over the years we would spend hours playing basketball, until I started beating him in games of one-on-one. That did not happen until I was about 15 though. I don’t think I ever beat him in a game of horse as he was a sharp shooter. He had me jumping rope and bouncing the ball everywhere I went. He even sent off to UCLA for their jumping exercises when I was in Jr. High school so that I could jump fairly high. I could dunk a volleyball at 15 and a basketball by 16. My dad would take me to basketball games all over the area from as early as I can remember. My mom would go with us after my sisters got older just so she could spend time with us, I think. We went to the Rockets games when they played in Hofheinz Pavilion, which was two or three venues ago. I remember seeing John Havlicek play against the Rockets in the play-offs and of course he shot the winning shot. I got to see Julius Erving play as well and of course Moses Malone and Rudy Tomjanovich and Calvin Murphy. My dad along with another friend took several of us to see the Texas High School state tournament in Austin, TX. The main player I remember watching then was Terry Teagle who had a great high school career along with going to play at Baylor then the Lakers. A great deal of my memories has to deal with us going to see basketball games over the years. I also remember going to several football games with him, but the most memorable game was going to see the Dallas Cowboys play the Washington Redskins the very first year Texas Stadium was opened. I believe that was the coldest experience of my life.
As I continue to reflect on my relationship with my dad, I remember how stern he could be. He expected us to obey him and behave in a way that would be honoring to him and Mom along with being Christ-like. My dad, as long as I can remember, has been a very well respected man at his church. He has been a deacon for most of my life, if not all. He has served on many different committees and has held many offices. He taught us early in our lives the importance of going to church and serving God. I remember on Sunday mornings when we got our allowance, we would fill out our offering envelopes each week together and put in our tithe from our allowance. He led us to be tithers by example. I know that my mom had a lot to do with my spiritual development, but today is the reflections of my dad. My dad didn’t talk that much, but I tell people that he was like E.F. Hutton: “when he spoke, people listened.” Just to show the impact my parents’ spiritual lives had on the three of us kids, my oldest sister is an elder in her church, my middle sister is married to an ordained minister, and I am in the ministry as well. Now my daughter is in seminary studying to be a missionary and is marrying a man who is called to the ministry also. My son has expressed a call on his life for God to use in a special way. What a legacy!!!
Yes, many of my thoughts go back to the times my dad took me to watch someone else play basketball or even when he would go play in a golf tournament, I would go “be” his caddy. I do think about the times we would play or he would coach me in basketball. I do remember some of the tongue lashings I got for not doing some things right or talking back to him. But more than those memories, I reflect on the fact that my parents are still married after 57 years. They are still active in church as my dad serves as a deacon and ministers to many of the widows in his church. My mom still sings in the adult choir and they are faithful still in Sunday School. Yes, on a day that was celebrated three days earlier, I reflect on the fact that God blessed me with a dad that loves God, loves his wife, loves his children (now his grands & great-grands), and is leaving a legacy that will out live him for sure.