A Tribute to My Dad

My father passed away 12 years ago, but I often think about him and truthfully, I miss him.  This blog is particularly difficult for me to write, for admittedly, as an adult, I had little contact with him.  I lived out of state and visits to Ashtabula County were infrequent.

In retrospect, I realize that after raising four of my own children, my dad had far more good points than bad ones.  After all, I discovered that it’s hard work raising parents!

Dads are a product of their own upbringing, and frankly, manuals do not exist on how to raise children.  Most any man can father children, but being a “dad” is an altogether different story.  Today I honor my dad’s memory and offer this tribute.

Paul Loomis was born on November 11, 1931, two years into the Great Depression.  I don’t remember discussing those difficult years with him, but like all Depression children, his formative years were characterized by financial hardship and fear of the unknown.  The only thing I remember dad saying was that “FDR was considered by many to be the country’s ‘savior.’”

Dad dropped out of high school and subsequently was drafted into the United States Army during the Korean Conflict.  He first served in Japan, but eventually was trained as a sharpshooter in Korea.  Details about his combat duty remain sketchy; however, my grandmother, his mother, told me before I left to attend college in 1974, “Your dad left for the Army a kind, gentle man and came back angry and out of sorts.”  I will probably never know the whole truth about his Korean tour, but the brutalities of war changed my dad.

After his return stateside, dad met my mother in Painesville, Ohio.  Later they married and raised seven children. Dad was a hard worker and a wonderful provider.  Many times he took outside jobs to provide for his growing family.  Dad was a jack-of-all-trades and many in Ashtabula County appreciated his carpentry and mechanical skills.  He also played the guitar with my uncles Don (Doc) and Alvin.  They’re all gone now and their music has been silenced.  Sad.

As a kid, I failed to appreciate my dad’s many skills and gifts.  Truthfully however, dad had little or no patience when it came to teaching me what he personally had mastered.  I purposely stayed away from him because his anger and verbal assaults often left me belittled and confused.

I don’t remember dad ever telling me he loved me, but in retrospect I understand that by providing for us and by taking care of mom, he was expressing his love.  Many men in his generation were the same.

Dad lost the love of his life – my mom – after only 20 years of marriage.  And when mom died, part of dad went with her.  He was left with seven teenagers, who through their grieving may have disconnected emotionally with dad (my assessment only).

At any rate, the last four of my teen years were emotionally difficult, and my recollection is that our immediate family lost its footing.  At the time I mostly blamed my dad, but now realize he was just as emotionally spent as I was – perhaps neither he nor I grieved properly.  Life as we knew it imploded into a far different turbulent direction.  Dad did tell me however, before I left for college, “I’m going to miss you.”  I secretly wept.

As I think back, I understand more of the “why’s” than I could at age 16.  Of course, I have forgiven my dad for any shortcomings – both real and perceived – and today think of him only in good ways.

I’m thankful that I reconnected with dad during the nine years prior to his death.  He, I’m sure, was uncomfortable with my saying, “I love you,” and my kissing him on top of his head before we parted company each time!  But you know what?  He too began telling me that he loved me and always asked about my kids – his grandkids.  His inquiries meant the world to me!

Dad did not completely understand my passion for Christ and church ministry, but deep inside I think he was proud of me.  As a matter of fact, he came to hear me preach in two of my pastorates.  Wow!  Good memories!

Dad’s final years brought him serious pulmonary issues that greatly impaired his breathing.  Life became a struggle, and on December 8, 2006, dad went to heaven.  How can I be so sure?  I love telling the following story:

Dad was a patient at the Veteran’s Hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania.  For over 38 years I, and others, had prayed that he would give his life to Christ.  Lori and I visited him in his hospital room and here’s what he said:

“Hey Rog, guess who came to see me last night?”  I naturally thought he was referring to one of my siblings, but he continued by saying, “Jesus!”  To which I replied, “Jesus who?”  After all, Jesus was usually a cuss word in my dad’s life!

Dad continued, “Jesus came to me in the middle of the night.  He stood over there in that corner, and your mother was standing beside him.”  Whatever he saw turned his heart toward God, and two days before dad passed away, he gave his heart to Jesus!  How wonderful is that?

On this Father’s Day I have lots of memories regarding my dad – not all happy, but all under the forgiving blood of Jesus Christ.  I believe he did his best with the guidance he received during his early years; and after going through life difficulties that I remain ignorant about, parented me the best he could. 

I no longer speak of him with negative undertones, but honor him, knowing that heaven has perfected him and whatever mistakes or shortcomings he exhibited on earth were made right when he crossed over into eternal life.  I too have fallen short as a dad, so life evens the score by reminding me that none of us dads match up – but for the grace of God.



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