I have a goal: To help you create a great family.
Today, I’ll describe to you my first mentor on family life—my Dad.
If you’ve been reading my stuff for some time now, you may find this story familiar. But that’s okay. Read it again and be reminded that in creating a great family, it’s the small things that count.
My Father Did Many Things, But I Will Always Remember Him As…
The Dad Who Brought Me Out For Pizza
My Dad died 8 years ago.
He was my hero. My mentor.
An hour before he died, I gently brushed his grey hair. I looked at his tired face, his wrinkled hands, the tubes attached to his arm—and something in me told me his time was up. He wanted to go home. I prayed a blessing on him. An hour later, he quietly died in his sleep.
Friends, this should have happened many, many years ago…
God Gave Him A Long Extension
When he was 75 years old, my father was fixing a light bulb in our garage.
He stood on a bench, reached for it, and lost his balance.
He came crashing down, the back of his head hitting the concrete floor.
Soon, he lost control of his limbs.
I can still vividly recall that scene when my father, a strong man, was coming down the steps with my two sisters almost carrying him down.
He couldn’t move his legs anymore.
Through brain scans, the doctors saw three blood clots in his brain.
Soon, they said, he would die because of them. They performed two brain surgeries on him. He stayed in the ICU for five months. We almost lost him to severe pneumonia.
But miracle of miracles, he slowly recovered from the grip of death…
God granted him a second life.
To Teach Us To Love More
He survived for another eleven years!
Yes, he could no longer work or serve the church or community.
He could no longer talk clearly. Just garbled words.
His eyesight became very bad.
And the emotional center in his brain was also damaged, so he became erratic and sometimes acted like a child. He was a mere shadow of who he was.
But for those eleven years, it was so easy to make him smile.
All I had to do was bring him out to a cheap Japanese restaurant. He loved his sashimi in wasabe sauce. During this period in his life, eating out with his family was the only thing that made him happy.
For eleven years, I embraced him every time we met—something I didn’t do before his accident.
For eleven years, I always said, “I love you, Dad”.
For eleven years, I was in charge of cutting his fingernails and toenails—something I loved to do (and miss doing today).
I believe one of the reasons why God extended his life for eleven years more was so that we could learn how to love more.
That was his last assignment from above.
He Brought Me Out To Pizza
But even when I was a kid, he showed his love in his unique way.
If you were to ask me what I most remember Dad for, I will say, “He brought me out for pizza.”
When I was growing up, Dad spent enormous time with me.
Each day, when I was a young boy, we’d jog together. He wasn’t a great jogger mind you. All he did was jog around his car a few times. After the jog, he’d sit down and I’d sit on his lap—and we’d read the paper together. Not the front page, or the business section, or the sports page—but the comics page. He’d read it for me and explain why it was funny. Every single day. As a boy, I remember looking forward to spending time with him each night.
And every Saturday afternoon, he’d say, “Bo, let’s go out”. We’d go for a pizza. A hotdog-on-a-stick. A bag of peanuts. An ice cream cone. We’d also go to a toy store, play with the toys together without buying a single thing. I didn’t mind. My hands may have been empty but my heart was filled with Dad’s love.
He knew I loved pizza.
So when Shakeys opened for the first time in the Philippines, he said he’d bring me there. The problem was that it opened in faraway Angeles, Pampangga. But to him, that was no problem at all. He drove me there just so that I could eat pizza.
It’s true. At the end of one’s life, you’re not remembered by your great achievements. The house you built. The job you had. The money you earned.
At the end of your life, you’ll be remembered by how you loved in small ways. Whether you brought your son for pizza or not.
My father did…
And here’s a letter I wrote to Dad the day he died…
Dad, I’ll miss you.
I’ll miss cutting your fingernails and toenails.
I’ll miss our hugs together.
Dad, thank you for loving me in the way only you could have done.
You supported me in my work as a Preacher and Leader. No matter how crazy my ideas were, you were there behind me. Thank you for believing in me so much.
Dad, thank you for spending time with me when I was a little boy.
Thank you for letting me sit on your lap, reading the Comics page for me each night. Thank you for bringing me to the toy store. Thank you for the hotdog. The ice cream cone. The pizza.
Hey, your back. The man before the accident. This time, perfected.
You can see beautifully again. All the colors, the beauty, the brightness.
You can talk clearly again—no longer the jumbled words you spoke for 11 years.
You can work again. (Do they need your accounting skills there?)
You can jog again.
Welcome back Dad.
I love you!
May your dreams come true,