(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!!

(Tipping hat)

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Comment by Jeannie Wright on June 16, 2008 at 20:56
Breck, what a lovely tribute to your Dad! I know he was very proud of you! His greatest legacy was that he left his positive effects on the world around him and you.

My father is still alive, and, in fact, I just spent the evening with him. I love him dearly and he has always provided love and comfort for me and my children. I was lucky and had a "second chance" with him, as in 1987 he was given more time on earth -- I also treat each day as very precious with him, my mother, brother and children.

Many people experience the same sort of loss when a family breaks up, so, like you, I'm keen on cherishing every moment. Whether our loved ones are with us or not, it only takes a moment for someone to leave us and we only have the moment in which we live - you are so good to remind us!
Comment by KJM on June 3, 2008 at 20:52
Thank you for sharing your story, Breck. I'm sure your father is proud, and your children are fortunate.

My dad is still young and healthy. He is not a highly-educated man, and I certainly couldn't say he never used a cuss word (heck, he and I tell dirty jokes to eachother). He's not the best-mannered person I know. But he is the most loving man I know. He and my mother have been together since high school, and they had me when he was only 19. He worked hard, and my mom was able to stay home and raise us. We didn't have a lot growing up. But what we may have lacked in material wealth, I know we more than made up for in love and stability. All of my and my sister and brother's friends always wanted to hang out at my parents' home (and still do) . My parents took in several kids who had horrible family situations -- even when we were squished in the tiniest 2-bedroom house. I am proud of my dad, and I am lucky I married a guy very much like him.

Happy Father's Day : )
Comment by Breck Record on June 2, 2008 at 7:51

"I wasn't there that morning....." from The Living Years really touched me when I first heard that song after my dad passed. Very appropriate verse for me.

Anthony, great story.
Many of us are lucky to still have our parents around. Others may have lost them suddenly due to accidents or over time due to illness. Regardless, good or bad, without them, we wouldn't be here.

Sometime I'll write one about the church organist in the church where my dad lead the singing. :)

(tipping hat)
Comment by Anthony D. Frisolone on June 2, 2008 at 7:16
Breck, your father sounded like and extraordinary man and his influence on you shows in these posts. You wrote a beautiful tribute to him.

I thank God for my father every day of my life. He worked two jobs to support our family and still had time to play in the park with me and my brother. He taught me the value of hard work and getting an education. Thanks to his example, I'm a presence in my kids' lives even though work can take me early in the morning to late in the night. He took me to my first Yankees game and we still talk about sports. He's been there when I needed advice and has been there for me when life got tough for me growing up and trying to make in life.

He's still alive, although diabetes and a stroke two years ago slowed him down, and I'm grateful to have him here to see my kids and play with them.
Comment by Rhoda Collins on June 1, 2008 at 16:40
Breck, that was just incredible! {{HUGS}}

I was 20yrs old when my Dad was killed in a car accident in 1985. They never knew 'why'...no deer apparent, no drinkng, just tire skid marks and flipping and a telephone pole. I spiraled down a low path. I was able to climb up bit by bit from 1987 on. Married a wonderful man in 1997 and for my 'father/daughter' dance, I danced with my brother to the song below. I TOTALLY agree with your thoughts to not wait. Life is a gift given to us. We need to grab hold and use it to our best advantage, and be a good example to our children.

Your father sounds incredible. So glad you had him! :)

In the Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics:
Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door

I know that Im a prisoner
To all my father held so dear
I know that Im a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
Im afraid thats all weve got

You say you just dont see it
He says its perfect sense
You just cant get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talking in defence

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
Its too late when we die
To admit we dont see eye to eye

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
Its the bitterness that lasts

So dont yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different day
And if you dont give up, and dont give in
You may just be o.k.

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
Its too late when we die
To admit we dont see eye to eye

I wasnt there that morning
When my father passed away
I didnt get to tell him
All the things I had to say

I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
Im sure I heard his echo
In my babys new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
Its too late when we die
To admit we dont see eye to eye

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