I voted today in the city election. Most people don’t but it’s been a life long habit for me. When I showed my ID to the poll worker, the elderly lady said, “Do you know Lee Chronister?” I replied, “He was my father. He died in 2002.” She was silent for a moment and then turned the registry around for me to sign. “We worked together at Totem Realty many years ago. He was a kind man.” she said. Yes he was.
My Dad was the nurturer in the family. He got the kids up in time to go to school. He fed us breakfast. Oatmeal was a favorite with brown sugar on it. Lots of brown sugar! He carried nearly all the parenting load. I doubt that any of the kids would have survived childhood anywhere close to emotionally intact without him. My Dad was the one who took me to the airport when I left for college. I sat in my window seat on the airplane and held back the tears as the plane took off. I missed him already. It didn’t take long though, to quickly adapt to the college scene and all I needed from my Father was the monthly check that I could use to buy ice cream at the Student Union Building.
One memory stands out the most. My brother and I shared a large bedroom that had a hardwood floor, room for a pool table and even a sofa. It was on the second floor. Our beds were parallel to each other near the door with about 10 feet between us. That hardwood floor was our monster alarm. I would set a coat hanger upright next to the door. If anyone opened it in the night, the hanger would clatter to the floor and alert us that monsters were coming. (You can imagine our horror the night the wind blew the hanger down!) The other advantage of the floor was that it carried sound from our bedroom down to the floor below where my parents slept.
So it was that one night my brother and I both came down with a stomach virus. In the middle of the night, we simultaneously leaned over the sides of our beds and threw up on the floor. It was quite a mess. To give you some idea of the dynamics of our family, it was my father who came to check on us (my mother stayed in bed.) He cleaned us up and helped us change our clothing and the began to mop up the mess we had made, emptying the bucket into the toilet of the nearby bathroom. It was during this that we heard a Thump! in the bathroom. My brother and I forgot our sickness and lept out of bed to investigate. I was the one who yelled out to my Mother, “Dad just collapsed on the bathroom floor!”
My Mother came screaming up the stairs just as my Dad came to consciousness. Mom told me to call 911. My father said, no. He would be okay, he said.
Turns out my Dad had the same stomach flu as his kids. It made him light headed and he fainted as he leaned over to empty the pail. I have marveled ever since at the servant heart that led that dear man to come care for his sons when he was just as debilitated as we were. I have never forgotten it either. Much of the kind of father I have been to my own children was modeled after his compassion and gentle warmth. I have been forever grateful for his legacy which he passed down to all three of his children.
I truly believe that the life well lived is one which invests unselfishly into others. Our legacy is the people we love as we live on this planet and our wealth lies in the people who love us. It is precisely what God calls us to do.
Matthew 619 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NASB)