One of the last photos taken of my Dad; Jim took it in the backyard of the house I grew up in, probably in late May 1993; they were cooking on the grill, which is why the dishtowel is slung over his shoulder.
The most important thing my Daddy taught me: grace
The Oxford American Dictionary defines grace as:
- Simple elegance or refinement of movement,
- (in Christian belief) The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
- A divinely given talent or blessing
- The condition of being favored by someone
My Dad had grace in all its meanings. He moved gracefully, both physically and socially. He swung a golf club with grace and practiced orthodontics with grace. When he drove the boat, he could bring the rope right into the hands of the skier without missing a beat.
He loved to learn and schooled himself thoroughly on a variety of subjects; it’s hard to imagine that he never knew the Internet, never had an email address.
He loved most music, especially classical, and amassed an enviable collection. Among his favorites were Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Pathétique, Op. 74, The Impossible Dream, from Man of LaMancha and his favorite hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.
He had a nickname for each of his patients and always remembered it. A handsome, well-dressed man, he could move easily in the most sophisticated social and professional circles, yet he could truly relate to and be accepted by those in the most humble of circumstances.
He wrote beautifully, was an accomplished and poised public speaker, he sang beautifully and just about the only thing at which he was not particularly adept was resealing a zip-top plastic bag.
His faith was profound as anyone I’ve ever known, yet as simple as a child’s. He knew that it was not our own goodness or our compliance to a set of rules that earned our place in heaven. If we could earn our own way, it would only give us cause for pride and arrogance. With a burning passion he hated the legalism that so many are willing to accept as a counterfeit for grace. Though they frustrated him, he felt for them, as he knew they would never know the true peace of the Father’s agape love.
When we chose his epitaph, we decided on one simple word — one word with several meanings that represented every facet of the life he lived on earth: grace.