Parents inevitably leave prints on their children, marks that are uniquely recorded per child and per season of life. What comes to mind first when asked, that is the core legacy of a parent to the child. This inheritance can run the gamuts of positive to negative, sparse or abundant contributions.
I am particularly thankful today for the easily-identified multiple, constructive legacies – the gifts – of the great fathers of my life.
Wisdom and Persistance
Though he passed two and a half years ago, my mom’s dad’s life continues to inspire and shape who I strive to be.
A World War II Navy officer turned banker turned rancher turned entrepreneur, Papa’s example is one of the most versatile and persevering ones I have directly witnessed. He refused to allow an accident in the first half of his life to slow him down, thought it left him with pain and without full feeling waist down. He continued for some 50 years more to live an active, hard-working and people-serving life.
Papa never stopped learning. That insatiable thirst for perspective and information made him my favorite fountain of inspiration and guide for reflection.
A friend once paid me the highest compliment when he said he could see how I aspired to the wisdom of my grandfather, mentally harvesting lessons from the fields of life.
Integrity and Leadership
When I think of moral compass and determining right from wrong, my father comes immediately to mind.
All my life I have known Dad to have steadfast honesty and ethics. He put those traits to hard work as a civil servant for 40-plus years and led others well in his profession, in community organizations and at church.
I recall Dad doing the right thing even if it was hard. His uprightness hasn’t always been appreciated by everyone around him. There are times he was arguably persecuted for not wavering. But I know him to have always done his prayerful best as a faithful steward of the opportunities God placed before him.
Dad will go out of his way to help others or try to find solutions to tough situations.
He is a natural encourager and is wired to spur others on to their best.
Joy and Positivity
My father-in-law is possibly the most consistently joyful and positive person I have ever met.
Even in the face of trials or challenges, Pa can always find a reason to be upbeat or envision a way out of something that is difficult. He is realistic in that he will identify and put a name to the hard things in life, but he will immediately turn to reasons for gratitude and optimism about the outcome.
Pa is abundantly proud of his family. He genuinely celebrates the achievements of his children and grandchildren, however big or small. He encourages us all to live in the moment and make the most of every opportunity.
His laugh is music. His heart will often fill his eyes, at times running down his cheeks.
A boyish smile and nod, a pat or squeeze and fake gruffness communicate his deep affection.
Dedication and Service
Though the newest father on this list, my husband sets the record in my personal book for love shown to his family through servant leadership. I cannot imagine a man more committed to his children and to loving with his actions.
Over the course of our fifteen years of marriage, he has championed and cared for me selflessly. And now in two and a half years as parents, I see our Papaíto extending that care and new dimensions of love to our children. He truly gives his all to make sure we are attended to, are happy and at peace.
This same commitment and action-love of others is employed in his career in social work. He has dedicated himself to help people face challenging circumstances with dignity, hope and options.
He leads as Jesus led, with a towel on his arm and putting others before himself. His acts on our behalf are love incarnate.
If I could consistently emulate a fraction of the examples of these men, I would be on the road to a respectable legacy of my own.
And if my children grow into half of these collective testimonies, then I will feel proud of launching greats into the world.
The legacy gifts of my fathers are many and praiseworthy. And they themselves are gifts to the lives of many, sent by the greatest Father of all.
What legacy gifts have you been given? And what legacy are you aspiring to leave?