Friday, November 8, 2013

My Tribute for Dad (Aug. 23, 1929-Nov. 3, 2013)

Read by Gary Knox at David W. Lee’s Funeral


As you can imagine, it’s a challenge to write appropriate admiration for a great father, and keep it within a few minutes for someone to read. That is what I’ll attempt. Since we are into the month of November, with the celebration of Thanksgiving on the horizon, I’ll honor my dad through giving thanks.

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to gather here to honor my dad. By the grace of God his impact in the lives of his children, family members, ministries, and people for whom he prayed, is deserving of commemoration.

Thanks to my wife, Sarah, for giving me the nudges and the freedom I needed to leave for Kentucky on Friday morning, a week ago. It was a blessing to have people from our church’s small group take care of the girls and for one of Sarah’s clients to take Jace to his first basketball practice, while Sarah worked a half day on Saturday. Upon arrival, I hoped that dad would heal from the pneumonia in his lungs and miraculously revive for a great Christmas with my kids and the rest of our family before his passing, so I stayed obnoxiously positive. In the evening, mother shared with me that it was no longer pneumonia, but the cancer and disease was taking over his lungs. On Friday, after praying with my mom in her room, I remember praying for God to take dad and be merciful to him. Grief started to roll in with force at that point. Saturday morning I told him, “Dad, we aren’t holding on to you anymore. You are free to go, even though we’d love to have you healthy.” By Saturday afternoon they had decided to move him into hospice and his condition continued to decline. Sunday morning, about 8:40 a.m. we got a call from Esther, my sister, that she had been called by hospice to get to the hospital. While in route, enjoying the beautiful KY morning with black angus cows in the fields and leaves in full Fall colors, Esther called again. He was already HOME. When we got on the hospice hall a little after 9:00a.m., we were told he had passed away at 8:55 a.m. .

I’m so grateful for that weekend. I was able to say “I love you” multiple times to my dad, and even hear him faintly say, “I love you too.” I gave his last living, earthly shave. I got to wash his face with a hot washcloth to make him look better for nurses and visitors stopping by to see him. It was great to know I had filled a void for a sister and mother who had given themselves to the point of emotional and physical exhaustion.  And, I was able give him my own personal release of freedom to “go to heaven.”

I’m full of thanks for how the events surrounding his death affirmed my faith, in Jesus, His perfect timing, and the way He blesses through people who live by faith. For example:

-          That morning I had dreamed of my dad running up to my grandpa, grandma, his brothers, and loved ones in heaven.

-          The devotional mother and I read before receiving the call to leave for the hospital felt like it was for us, and I was positive death was imminent.

-          A former pastor felt led to call about David Lee’s condition. When the hospital answered-it was 2 minutes after his death.

-          Close friends texted messages, with dad in their thoughts.

-          Dad and mother were on the World Gospel Mission prayer calendar.

-          A former neighbor and a small group leader and his wife (Larry and Sherry McNabb) stayed up all night with dad until 7 a.m., before his passing, but returned to the hospital by 9:15 a.m. to see his body rolled out for preparation.

-          People were dropping off meals to cover for mother before the day was over. Neighbors assured me that the yard would be mowed, and person after person let me know that my parents had touched them in deep ways.

-          My sister’s high school Spanish classes have been covered by a competent teacher this whole week in her absence.

-          God’s sovereign, provident hand were present the WHOLE weekend, -other family members have more they could tell you.

I’m thankful for a dad who valued hard work and doing a project right the first time. I learned to swing a hammer, drive a nail, saw a board, paint a room, and dig a ditch from him.

I’m thankful for a dad who was organized- he had his whole funeral service filed away with all prearranged details ready with the funeral home in Carey. I hung a mirror for mother, and marveled as I went to the garage to look for a tack for the back of the picture frame. Tools were hung in perfect order, with all the types of nails and screws neatly filed in little, plastic, cabinet drawers for easy access. His garage looks more like a well- kept living room.

I’m thankful for a dad who modeled practical, authentic belief in Jesus, backed up with action. He was a faithful Sunday School teacher, Bible Study participant, and caring neighbor. I never heard him use an unwholesome word, and even though I know he was very human, his pursuit of holiness and his desire for the experience to be a part of each of his children’s lives was evident. Daily family reading of Scripture and prayer is the mode of operation in the Lee home. And you all know that he made his sacrifices, living thousands of miles away from his closest family, in ministry.

I’m thankful for a dad who gave me discerning, sound, biblical advice, yet expected me to make my own decisions.  I will miss the phone conversations when I need to talk to an older buddy.

I’m thankful to have had a dad who was a man of prayer, and the belief in its power in my family. Family members, he PRAYED for you, by name- ALL of you. If you are in these seats and you are a part of a mission/ministerial organization, he probably prayed for you too.

Organized and purposeful, authentic disciple of Jesus, discerning, man of prayer. I’d love to continue the legacy.

When I arrived home from the hospital I looked at the bags mother would unpack. I noticed his watch. I stretched it over my hand and onto my wrist- it looked pretty good. It’s on me today. I grabbed his walking cane, and made sure I put it in the Rav4, to head back to IN. That’s in my bedroom at home.  I passed his dresser and there were a few pocket knives on the dresser top. I wondered which one I’d inherit. But no, it wasn’t time now. I needed to bask in the thankfulness I was feeling for a faithful earthly father and in the healing that time brings before we rummage through possessions that evoke such strong memories.

Thanks so much, Dad… Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the hope of heaven.


Anonymous said...

A deserved and beautifully written tribute! Also loved the Wintley Philips song "Until Then". Remember my Dad Lister singing that in the Kenya days. Our parents used to do quartets together. I am glad Stephen and Diane were able to represent the Lister family for your Dad's service.
- Linda Reinhardt

John Lee said...

Linda, It was great to receive your hug from Steve! I'm glad you didn't send a kiss though;). Yeah, I would like to hear them all sing together in their prime. Thank you for all the love. You are a blessing in my life...

Ruth said...

Thanks for posting this -- it was great to read. Praying for you and your family.

John Lee said...

thank you, Ruth!

TJ said...

Beautiful tribute, John.

Anonymous said...

Well lived rich life with wonderful children and beautiful grandchildren!
All our sympathies with your family, John!

Larry Strong said...

Hey John! You are a really good writer and dragged some tears out of me as I read about your dad leaving us. I too learned to work from him one vacation when he taught me to paint - the single ladies' house at Kericho. He was an amazing man and the leader of an amazing family! God bless you all! Larry

Mrs. McNees said...

John, I didn't know your father, but I know the testimony you have, and I know that your dad was greeted with, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" Blessings and peace as you mourn his loss and celebrate his impact on your life and on so many!

John Lee said...

Thank you for these encouraging comments! They mean much...

Paul Keller said...


Your tribute to your father was absolutely beautiful, perfect, and fitting. What great words to honor your father. I've been praying for you and your family during these days.

Frank said...

So true and so appropriate is this tribute to your dad--a man after God's own heart. May God's Spirit within you grant you the comfort you need "to carry on...until then!" With love for you, Brother--Frank

John Lee said...

Thank you Paul and Frank. The Lord has been sustaining beautifully. We did a lot of grieving before his passing truly arrived. Thanks for reading...

Anonymous said...

Hi John,
I've been off of FB for awhile, and just read your John's Jots blog about the passing of your dad. I am so sorry to hear that. You wrote such a moving tribute. I can see what a wonderful role model your father was for you and your family, as well as the countless others whose lives he touched. It would have been a privilege to have known him.
Praying for God's continued comfort for you and your family.
Michele (Vandermark) Hauck

John Lee said...

Thanks much Michele! Appreciate you stopping by to read it. Yes, grateful for a great role model in life. I'm sure you want to pass along the same type of values to your boy...