WHAT'S YOUR STORY
(Who influenced you?)
When I was very young, I met this man that, over the years, was pretty influential in my life. I would see him often and as I was growing up, he would always encourage me to participate in activities, such as sports and do good in school and other things.
I never once heard a cuss word come out of his mouth...never. He was always very respectful to others and everyone seemed to like him and he fit into any crowd and was always polite and courteous to everyone. That was very inspirational to me....especially, in this day and age, to never hear a cuss word or a dirty joke from him. Not many people can say that about anyone. That standard in his life was something I never could reach or achieve. He was always in church and was the song leader in the Methodist church where I grew up and his wife was the church organist.
I learned later that while he was in the Air Force that he came down with pericarditis and the doctors didn't give him much chance to live. Actually, didn't think he'd make it more than about six months. He told me that one day, a presence came over him and said, “If you follow Me, I will give you a rewarding life.” Well, it turns out that he agreed with that Presence and did, in fact, have a rewarding life.
As I became older, I would call this person C.L., as everyone else did, and would see him at all the local sporting events in town as he liked to support the kids in the community. He was in charge of the local school bus transportation system and knew all the families on his route as well as the kids. Many of the parents of his kids were, at one time, kids on his same bus route. I remember that every time one of his kids on his route had a birthday, they would always tell him and he immediately pulled out a $2 bill from his wallet and give it to the child. He always made them feel special on their birthday.
When I got to the age where I could play sports, we could always count on C.L. He was in the stands encouraging the players and letting them know they were rooted for. In band, when we would come off the field playing the fight song, I would always see him in the stands with his wife and saying, “Way to go, band!!!”
After I graduated, I moved away to college and eventually became a court reporter, but I still stayed in contact with C.L. He always was concerned at how I was doing. I never forgot his morals and standards. I never have been able to reach the level that he was at, but I've tried. He set a standard that I hope to one day achieve and maybe one day he will be proud of what I did in my life.
On one particular day in June of 1991, I got a call from his wife that he wasn't doing too good. It turned out that he had prostrate cancer. The doctors didn't know how bad it was at the time, but it concerned me that someone like that shouldn't have that kind of disease. Cancer always takes the good one, as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, while he is battling cancer, my first wife is about to deliver our second child. Because of how this man had touched my life, I really felt it important to go back and visit him, because it was discovered that his cancer was spreading faster than the doctors could treat it. He told me, “Breck, you stay with your wife and don't come back here. I'm going to be fine. I appreciate the thought.” So, I stayed in San Antonio while he was battling cancer in Lubbock.
I kept checking in on him and after the second weekend, his wife said that he wasn't doing very well at all and the outlook didn't look good. My wife told me that I should go home and see him, as she knew how influential he had been to me growing up. So, I decided to fly to Lubbock. By the time I got there, he was already on morphine drip and I'm not even sure that he really knew I was there. I feel like he did. It is a sad day to see someone that you view as such a strong person be torn down to nothing because of cancer. I tried to be strong all the while, I hated seeing this man go through this horrible ordeal.
I stayed the night at the hospital with him, knowing that the next morning I would have to get back to San Antonio and hopefully be ready for the birth of my own child. Leaving was very tough, but I did it. I got the dreaded call on July 2nd that he had passed on. I immediately flew back home for the funeral, as my wife still hadn't delivered our second child. The funeral was great as there were people overflowing into the meeting hall because the church was full to capacity. I guess that was a reflection of the effect this man had on people. It was great to see the recognition of a life in that manner. I'm sure if he was looking down, he would feel justified that he made a difference.
That evening I fly back to San Antonio and get home at about 1:30 a.m. Exhausted and only wanting to sleep, I get a few hours to sleep only to be awakened by my wife a couple of hours later informing me that it is time. Wow. We get up, get her ready and go to the hospital. I feel like the Man upstairs had all of this planned, by allowing me the chance to say goodbye to one person and then being ready to welcome a new life into this world. I wish He would have given me a little more time between each event, but He didn't.
Later that day, my second child is born. As the doctor raised her up, I see three gray hairs on her head and she looks exactly like the man whose funeral I attended only the day before. I'm glad I had it on my video camera because I would have never believed it. The gray hairs were just as shiny as ever.
So, to that man, I would like to say this:
Dad, I love you and I miss you. I'm glad that you were my father and taught me the values that you showed me throughout your life. Forgive me where I have failed you. Be proud of me where I have done good. I only wish I would have been there sooner for you and been able to talk to you before it was too late. There's so many things I would have liked to have said to you. I can only hope that over the years since you've been gone that you are somehow able to hear my thoughts or feel them.
For those of you that still have a father that is alive, have you talked to your dad? Have you told him how much you love him? Father's Day is approaching quickly. Could this be the time that you give him a hug, mend fences with him, tell him how much you love him?? I hope so. Don't wait until it's too late. You'll spend the rest of your life wishing you had done it while he was around.
Happy Father's Day!!