Last night, I heard my husband tell a story about his dad I didn’t remember.
We had finished dinner with new friends and were comparing stories of our childhoods. The host described the regular yelling and throwing of things that his parents modeled and then asked about us.
Eddie didn’t have to think long about his answer. He replied, “I have one story that has always stuck with me.”
His story took place after he was grown and we had two children of our own, but it was his best example of who his dad always was in his eyes.
We had rented a lake house to share with a few other families from church. Eddie’s dad borrowed a friend’s boat and brought his own boat out so that the littles could go on a boat ride and the guys could go fishing.
On the fishing trip, Eddie’s dad drove the borrowed boat and Eddie drove his dad’s boat. They pulled into a cove to fish. After a while, Eddie noticed the boat was sitting low in the water and then realized he had failed to put the plug back in. He began frantically working to save the boat, turning on the bilge pump, etc.
It was here in the middle of the story that he paused to tell our new friends, “Now, my family wasn’t rich. This boat represented a lot of sacrifice for my dad and replacing it would not have been an option.”
Then he finished the story. He said his dad looked over to see his boat sitting low in the water and while continuing to fish simply said, “Ed. Don’t sink my boat.”
You’d have to hear my husband imitate his dad to get the full effect. Calm. Matter of fact. Without one decibel of raised volume or one ounce of harsh tone.
Eddie paused again to shake his head and look down for a moment. He trailed off with a commentary about not believing that was all his dad had to say about his boat being inches away from resting on the bottom of the lake.
Eddie saved the boat. He took off out into the lake to let the water drain out and then installed the plug. All was well.
The host rounded out the conversation by noting how differently that scenario would have gone down if it had been his own dad.
My husband is a man of few words. He’s a listener. And when he does talk, he gets in, makes a point, and gets out. And he usually leaves you thinking.
He certainly left me thinking after that story.
I wasn’t shocked by his story. This is exactly who I’ve known his dad to be. But I went on to reflect on the legacy of quiet strength and godly leadership my father-in-law started. And how thankful I am to see the fruit of that legacy in my family.
When my son was born, the song I want to be just like you by Phillips Craig and Dean was popular and I framed those words for my husband.
The song is a dad’s prayer for God’s grace on his role as a father, mentioning specifically the desire to be filled with patience and tenderness. He wants to be like his own Father-God because his son wants to be like him.
I now realize there was another man who took them seriously long before they were placed in a song.
So on this Father’s Day, I choose to use my (many) words to salute my father-in-law.
I’m ever grateful the father of my children grew up to be like you.