Friday, June 14, 2013

Recollections For My Dad: A Modern Renaissance Man

Happy Father’s Day 2013 to my dad. I am so proud of him. He lives in Texas and I live in Washington so we don’t see each other more than 1 or 2 times a year. We really miss each other. If I could live in the same city as my dad then I would be perfectly content. We would do all sorts of crazy things and he would teach his grandsons life skills that someone growing up in the 60s learned. He is a Renaissance Man of many many skills and qualities. He is literally (not figuratively) a CEO, a pastor, a writer, a scholar, a carpenter, a world traveler, an ambassador, and a deeply devoted husband of 30+ years and father to 10 children. I sometimes say that I grew up in a “Cosby Family” situation where the parents and the kids all love each other deeply. No major drama, just the manifestation of the idealistic Rockwellian American Family.

Below are some recollections of my dad from my childhood. This is not comprehensive. It’s a living list and I hope to update it from time to time:
  • I remember my dad’s 30th birthday. It was at Camp Tillicum. Now that I am something like 35 or 36 (I literally can’t remember), the fact that I remember my dad’s 30th birthday is pretty impressive. He was just a little kid back then!
  • I remember as kids going to parks with my dad.
  • He was a professional trumpet player for a bit. He would tell me fun stories of his glory days in his 20s when he could hit a triple E. He would recall a song played at Azusa Pacific University with a choir. The choir began “And the trumpets all sound! …” and dad responded with some fun high notes. I can sing the tune in my head courtesy of his story.
  • I remember as kids my dad putting out the tarp and camping under the stars in the Redwood forest.
  • I remember going deep sea fishing a few times off the California coast.
  • I remember as kids when our house caught on fire in Oregon City. I was 4 years old. When my mom and my sisters returned to see the house in an enormous fireball. I ran across the street, towards the inferno. The firemen and police assumed I was running to the house to sacrifice myself to save a toy or some such nonsense. I remember thinking how dumb their perception of me was. I was simply running across the street because that’s where dad was standing.
  • I remember as a kid driving home one day when my dad was so beside himself with frustration at my sister Jennifer’s pre-teen dramatics. He warned her, “you stop or I’ll stop this car and lick you!” When Jen kept it up he stopped the car and literally licked her. Not in the figurative “hitting” sense. Literally licked her cheek. Kelleigh was stunned. Jen was sooo grossed out that she stopped her histrionics and the rest of the car ride home was light and jovial. Problem solved! I’ll never forget that.
  • I remember in high school when my dad and I performed Christmas carols in front of the church for Christmas Eve service. Just a trumpet and a sax.
  • I remember in junior high my dad stepped up and coached my little league team because no one else was going to do it.
  • I remember my dad sending me post cards and letters every day when he took a 30-day trip to Nigeria. I think I was 9 or 10 years old. They were my connection to my dad when he was 5000 miles away. To this day those are some of the very very few personal mementos I’ve kept for 20+ years.
  • I remember my dad co-writing a manual for how to start a church from scratch. “The Phone’s For You.” Probably wouldn’t fly in today’s cell phone and privacy-conscious society, but cutting edge in its time. And I remember he didn’t get any credit for it, but his family knew and was very impressed.
  • I remember my dad, as a pastor and itinerant pastor, giving the same “Ordinary People” message dozens upon dozens of times. And each time he sang “God uses ordinary people just like you and me…” And each time his ethos and credibility totally worked on the audience.
  • I remember buying him an Eddie Bauer watch for father’s day one year. And there’s a funny story about that on my blog.
  • I remember how adventurous he was, despite having no money in our early days, he and my mom always took us camping and on road trips. Grand Canyon, Glacier, Florida, Idaho… My dad could drive almost 24 hours straight just to avoid staying at a motel. And then in his 40s and 50s he discovered Priceline and suddenly he consistently stopped his cross country trips at 4pm each day just so he could enjoy an evening swim at a cheap hotel. Enjoying life, one evening at a time!
  • I remember my dad being incredibly, incredibly entrepreneurial. He was a pastor, a teacher, a trumpet player, I think he was a bus driver (or maybe that was Grandpa?), he started a carpet business, he started churches (lots of them! How many, dad?), he started an international adoption agency, he sold sound systems to churches, he bought and repaired and sold dozens of houses. I’m sure I’m forgetting many interesting other ventures.
  • In my estimation my dad has always been indefatigable. He never runs out of energy. Sometimes to his kids annoyance: “Why can’t we just sit here and watch TV?” Dad: “No, get off your lazy butts and let’s go on the lake!”
  • My dad, who to his own admission was an extremely average student with self-described poor literary skills, later developed into an extraordinary writer. He recently wrote about my sister Angela’s adoption in “A Stormy Night in Bucharest.” Available on his company’s website:
  • Speaking of his years managing an international adoption agency, I am amazed and impressed by his harrowing tales of travel to Eastern Europe, Asia and Central America. As a leader in the adoption and non-profit industries, his many hundreds of international trips have often led to some boarder and immigration confusion as to whether or not he was a diplomat or spy.
  • I remember getting food poisoning with dad in Guangzhou, China in 1999 at either the hole-in-the-wall kitchen where we ate poisonous snake and dog for lunch, or at the beautiful dinner buffet at the White Swan Hotel that evening. Either way… what a night. No fun for anyone. But a great story thereafter.
  • I remember back in around 1985 when my dad – about 32 years old … younger than I am today – and the rest of the family is packed into our nasty 1983 Chevrolet station wagon. We called it the tuna boat. And for some reason it was during the one year when the paint was stripped off and it was covered in ugly grey primer paint. Not sure the story here, but suffice to say we were very poor and it was the 80s. So here we are in “classy” Southern California. A big family in a beater tuna boat with Oregon license plates. I was in the little tiny seat in the back that faces the opposite direction (like the Brian Regan skit minute 1:40). Some teenager on a BMX hits our car with his fist. My dad yells out “You Jerk!” And the ballsy teenager peddles back to the car and yells at my dad something like, “Take your family back to Oregon,” and my dad grabs his arm and says something like, “If you don’t go away right now I’ll break your arm.” And boy do I remember the look of fear in that young man’s eyes. I was proud of my dad and that perpetuated the “my dad can beat up your dad” childhood banter.
  • Dad is an “extroverted introvert.” He is a pastor, a church leader, a board member, a speaker, he is comfortable talking in front of thousands of people, he is a social networker, he loves to bring people together and nurture relationships. And yet he loves to relax and recharge in the evenings to prepare him for another day of being a World Changer.
There is so much more about my dad than could possibly be captured here. He loves his family and would do anything for them. If he were Walter Bishop he would create a machine to travel to a parallel universe if it meant showing them that he loved them.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!


Angela M. said...

Don't we just have the coolest Dad in the world?! Love the man of God he is, and love the men and women of God he is raising. :) What an absolute stud.

Pastor Bob said...

Wow! Mom told me you wrote this. Who's the writer? I'm very proud of you. It means a lot that you took the time to put your memories on "paper." I remember speaking at a Father's Day breakfast a few years ago and reflected on my dad. It was wonderful to recall things that meant something to me. About this time last year, when we lost grandpa temporarily (yeah heaven) I found myself pulling out the stuff I had developed for the breakfast presentation and using it as the heart of my eulogy at his memorial. Hope the Lord comes back soon so you don't have to do that. Bless you my son. This means a lot to me. Dad.