The rest of the family has gone to bed.
I'm sitting in my parents' living room.
Across the room from a chair.
A chair previously occupied by a man.
His organs were failing.
His systems were shutting down.
His timeline was ending.
The second phone call was the one to say he was gone.
"Gone." So complete, so final.
He was simply gone.
It brings with it thoughts of mortality.
Mortality and immortality.
Our lives are all dust in the wind.
Just a vapor, and then...gone.
Across the room from me.
It served its purpose, and now it rests.
The dates of birth and death.
The dash between represents so much more than the dates.
It is the life.
Childhood to adulthood.
Youth to old age.
The life of the man.
The man who sat in the chair.
In this case, my dad.
He reserved that title for Another.
He expected us to always do our best work.
Not matter what the job, we always turned in our best effort.
He taught us to dream, to always hope for better.
To dream of impossibilities becoming possible.
He envisioned great things.
Things that were often out of reach.
Dreamers of dreams that stretch the normal boundaries of thought.
And though we frown the hereditary frown, we are sticklers for positivity.
Visionaries who refuse to worry until there is reason for concern.
We inherited more than a generational frown.
We inherited a ridiculous optimism.
Optimism that does not easily turn off.
By Demonstration more than by lecture.
You had to pay attention to get the lesson.
The lesson to be strong.
The lesson to listen more than you talk.
The lesson to express yourself when you need to.
The lesson to be a part of the solution, not the problem.
The lesson to be slow to anger.
The lesson to do hard things.
The lesson to trust others - to a fault.
The lesson to study hard before working hard.
The lesson to appreciate God and keep Him first.
To dedicate your life to serving Him.
The still, quiet chair across the room.
The man who liked to watch westerns.
The man who dreamed of riding with Autry and Rogers and Wayne.
The man who loved the wilderness, the mountains, and the forest.
The man who appreciated a good old song sung outdoors.
The man who encouraged us to be different from the world.
The man who never discouraged our aspirations to carve our own niche.
To dig our own footholds.
To blaze our own trails.
I also saw him laugh.
And I saw him cry.
I know he was thinking more than what he let out.
There was more to him than what we saw.
He called her "Did" because her name is Katy.
Katydid, if you please.
No matter what happened, he was devoted to her.
The love of his life.
Fifty-seven years together.
More than that.
Together, they hewed a solid life.
They stayed above water.
Raised a family.
Went to church.
They were leaders.
They set the standard for their family.
Again, by example more than by formality.
To follow in his footsteps as he followed Christ.
He never told us to be preachers, teachers, or leaders.
We could be the best at whatever we wanted to do.
We chose to be public servants., both of us.
We chose to work with people, both of us.
We chose to preach, both of us.
We chose to find Christian spouses.
And to stay married.
We chose to raise children.
And teach them to do the same.
We chose to think for ourselves.
Though different, we came to many of the same conclusions.
That we can and should dream.
That we can do things differently from passersby.
That we can stand out in our chosen fields.
That we must strengthen our faith.
That we must follow our hearts.
That we could raise our children in the church.
That we should appreciate life.
That we should cherish being with people.
That we can be alone and quiet.
The rest of the family is still in bed.
I'm sitting in the living room.
His chair is still empty.
And I don't want to go to bed.
I just keep staring at the chair.
It looks comfortable.
Soft, yet firm.
It's just sitting there.
Like Dad's footsteps.
It is no longer too big for me, his kid.
My feet still fit in his steps, but they also make their own.
My own dreams remain.
The job is now mine.
I am the dad.
Not father - dad.
I'm the one who now sits in the chair.
I am the one teaching by example.
I am the one who humbly sits.
I do my best to teach my children and others.
I am the one who appreciates a deep breath.
A satisfying trip to nature.
I am the one who encourages.
I am the man in the chair across the room.
The family has gone to bed.
But I remain.
And I pray for them.
For the future of my family.
His spirit lives in me.
His face is forever in my memory.
His blood flows in my arteries.
His teaching etched in my being.
His drive is my brain.
I am Dad now.
The baton is passed.
And, for the time being, my chair is not empty.
It is my turn.
The rest of the family is in bed.
Midnight is upon us.
A new day beckons.
I think I will go sit down.