WHAT ARE YOU DYING FOR?
Now donít take that wrong. I donít think my death is imminent, although we never really know for sure. Iím not sick, no doctor has given me a death sentence, and I havenít been scheduled for a lethal injection. But I certainly am dying.
And so are you. Death is inevitable; no one gets out of here alive, at least not in the natural form. Every time the sun goes down we are one day closer to our date with death. It may be tomorrow, it may be 50 years from tomorrow, but let there be no doubt about it. That train is coming for you.
Sorry to be so morbid. But it is the Truth.
Like so many Baby Boomers, my wife and I have come face-to-face with the reality of our parentsí mortality. My once vibrant dad now lies in a grave near his boyhood home. My 82- year-old mom is fighting the battle against failing health, alone in the home she and Frank shared for over fifty years. Itís hard, watching death slink in on Mom in the same way it visited Dad.
Micheleís 82-year-old father is in and out of the hospital, fighting for all he is worth to live a little longer. Her 82-year-old early-Alzheimer's-stricken mother is currently living with us, oblivious to much of what is going on around her. It is hard on our family, but I am so grateful that our children are getting this time with their grandma, a woman they never really knew when she was healthy because she hid behind the wall that the disappointments of life had built around her. Brick by brick, as a mason builds a basement; life trapped her in her self-induced closet. Only now, as the insidious effects of Alzheimerís blasts holes in her wall, are we beginning to get to really know Grandma Annie.
With all of the great things that our parents did, and I speak collectively of those of us who are Baby Boomers, the greatest curse they ever passed on to us was the worship of work. Like no generation in the history of the world, the WWII boys returned to America and set about creating the most prosperous nation the world had ever seen. They filled their homes with children and the shelves with possessions and slowly fell into the trap of allowing work to dictate the course of their lives. In a desire to chase the American dream, they created a nightmare. We Baby Boomers learned from our parents how to make a living, but not how to live. As a result, we now see bigger houses and broken homes. We learned how to add years to our lives, at the expense of life to our years.
What are you dying for?
This past Fatherís Day was a time of great reflection for me. It was my second without my own father, but the first full year since his death. His memory drove me to think about my own mortality, my own family, and the inheritance I, as the father, was leaving to my own children. Self-reflection is sobering business.
My father, a factory worker for over forty years, was a good man, but a distant father. As I stood next to his deathbed, I came to the realization that even though I loved him deeply, I never really knew him. He was my Little League coach, a man who worked double shifts at Kaiser Aluminum to put four of us through college, a guy who would do anything for his family, but a man trapped by his work. As he learned from his own dad, a gruff old German who left home for weeks at a time to earn money on the road, a father is first and foremost a provider. If you love your family, you prove it by providing ďstuffĒ for them. We knew Dad loved us but if you would ask each of my siblings, I think we would all agree that we wish Dad had given us less stuff and a lot more of him.
In his love for us, he gave his life to the factory.
So, let me ask you again. What are you dying for?
As a young child I can vividly remember being drawn to the character played by Robert Young in ďFather Knows Best.Ē I donít think I ever made a conscious association between my father and Robert Young, but something inside me was intrigued by this man who offered wisdom to his children. It wasnít that I wished my father would do the same with me, it was just that I was somehow conscious of the fact that he didnít. Dad taught us how to provide for a family, but he never really showed us how to nurture one.
Please understand I am not being critical of my dad. He was a great father. I always knew he loved me, sensed how unconditional it was, and respected him and his position as leader of the family. But I never really knew him, his heart, his desires, his disappointments, his convictions. Those were his and he locked them in a safety-deposit box inside his soul. Dadís answer to every crisis was always the same. Go to work, earn more money, and let your problems get lost at Kaiser. It wasnít that he didnít care. He was just, as Hank Williams Jr. would say, living out ďa family tradition.Ē When in doubt, go to work!
Dad saw work as love of the family. Unfortunately, we thought Dad loved work. It took many painful years for our family to realize the difference.
But the apple doesnít fall far from the tree. In times of crisis in our own lives, we had to fight the natural inclination to be like Dad, to throw ourselves into our work. Sometimes it is so much easier to lay blocks.
Our baby is about to fly the coop. Eighteen year old Maggie will be heading to college in the fall, leaving her mother and me the job of learning to live our lives without those needy children under our feet. It is sooo bittersweet.
I canít help to wonder, one day, on our childrenís first Fatherís Day without the Coach, what will be their thoughts of me? As they bring flowers and lay them on my grave, what will they share with their children about their dad? Will they be able to relate stories of what I believed, of what I built into their lives, of who I was? Or will they weep over the father they loved, but never really knew. If you asked them this question, what will be their responseÖ
What did Grandpa die for?
I heard somewhere that ulcers are caused not by what you eat, but by what is eating you.
Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children...
When they put you in the box, cover you with dirt, and lay the stone on top, what will they remember about you? Will it be your character, your house, or your bank account?
Tragically, for many, they are left with a coffin full of questions.
"Thanks for the memories, Dad. But, I hardly knew you."
are you leaving to your children? What are you dying for?
out my new CDÖWhy
Should God Bless America?Öit's better than listening to O'Rush,
O'Hannity, or O'Reilly. Pass some salt to your friends!
© 2006 Dave Daubenmire
- All Rights Reserved
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Coach Dave Daubenmire, founder and President of Pass The Salt Ministries www.ptsalt.com and Minutemen United www.minutemenunited.org, is host of the high octane Pass The Salt radio show heard in Columbus, Ohio.
In 1999 Coach Daubenmire was sued by the ACLU for praying with his teams while coaching high school in Ohio. He now spends his energy fighting for Christian principles in the public domain.
I canít help to wonder, one day, on our childrenís first Fatherís Day without the Coach, what will be their thoughts of me? As they bring flowers and lay them on my grave, what will they share with their children about their dad?