Dad cherished his family. It was to us he gave most freely of his life. His affection was not something celebrated, or even talked about; we just lived in its security. Whatever the need, we knew that he was going to see us through.
Those of us who lived with him also knew that he did not hesitate to say what he thought. His forthright manner may not always have been the most winsome, but we could never mistake what he meant. There was a basic integrity about him. He believed that a man's word was his bond, though the stars fall. The stubborn determination by which he adhered to principle set before his children an example of faithfulness seldom seen in this world of compromise and expediency. In this loyalty to truth, Dad taught us devotion--devotion to each other, and supremely, devotion to God. Above all, he wanted us to set our affection on things above ... to look for "that city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
I was so glad that a few months ago Dad and Mom could visit my home (then in Kentucky). As it turned out, it was our last time together.
One day Dad asked if he could go over to Lexington and visit the University of Kentucky. He wanted to see his old Alma Mater, and also to see an Annual of the year he graduated in 1916. So we went and walked the campus. So many changes have taken place in the last fifty years that he could scarcely recognize any of the buildings. Then we went up to the top of the high tower building where we could get a panoramic view of the whole city. I remember Dad again looking perplexed. He spotted a few old landmarks, but most of the buildings which he once knew had been torn down--and the new city seemed to him like "a strange country."
After awhile, he turned to me and said: "Emerson, I'm ready to go home." I replied, "Wouldn't you like to see more?" "No," he answered, "I have seen enough."
As we drove back, he seemed so relaxed and content. And on his face was that far away look ... as if he was viewing another city. The next day we drove to Hopkinsville where he visited his two sisters. They had a beautiful time together. Before parting, they decided, because of their physical infirmities and the distance between them, that no one would try to attend the funeral of the others. Lovingly they said their goodbyes, knowing that they would not see each other again in this world.
And, somehow, I sensed that, too, when I looked upon Dad's bright face the last time. Yet we knew that our goodbye was only temporary. There was going to be a reunion someday in the sky ... in a place no longer strange to our souls ... a "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
We honor the memory of Dad today, but we do not say Farewell. We have a bond in Jesus Christ that is not affected by the dissolution of our body, nor the passing of this age. More than ever before, we are made aware that this world is not our dwelling place; our spirits feel the tug of another country, "a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.