Being a Good Father
Me and Daddy
No one ever loved me like my father.
I never knew anyone who was more patient or more kind. I never knew anyone who was less jealous or conceited or proud. No one was less likely to be ill-mannered.
No one was more generous, both materially and in spirit. No one was less likely to remember wrongs.
If I were to tell his life story with dates and places and details of accomplishments-- it would tell mostly unimportant things. I could tell you where he was born, where he lived,what his work was, how his family grew, where he traveled, but none of that is so important.
What is important is the fact that in those times and places and relationships, in all of his personal and business details, I never knew anyone who came closer to a living example of St. Paul's definition of LOVE written to the Corinthians.
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not Jealous or conceited or proud.
Love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable.
Love does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth.
Love never gives up, its faith hope and patience never fail."
1 Corinthians chap. 13
He was not religious in the traditional sense, never a church member, but somehow he understood.
How many miles did he drive through deserts, along winding mountain roads, over boulders, through sandstorms, rainstorms, hailstorms or heat waves, from one coast to the other, and past borders north and south?
How many hours did he wait for us while we explored museums, churches or mountain trails that were of little interest to him, except for the fact that WE wanted to see them?
Because Love is Patient.
His talents were quiet ones.
He took care of details, making sure things were safe-- checking the locks, entertaining the kids, picking someone up, dropping them off, filling the gas tank, running an odd errand, keeping the bills paid and up to date, making the checkbook balance, reminding us to use the seat belts and attending to all of the little necessary and time-consuming details that we sometimes forgot or ignored.
In between, he told us jokes and made us laugh.
He laughed at our jokes, too even if he had heard them before.
Because Love is Kind.
In my second week as a new driver, I applied the brakes hard on a rain-slick road and skidded into the back fender of a new Edsel. (Think of it! The owner was silly enough to buy an Edsel, and then I messed it up.) I was driving Dad's '55 Buick and I busted one of the big chrome bullets on the front bumper. The Buick was only slightly less valuable to him than his family, but I was trusted to drive it again.
Because love does not keep a record of wrongs.
He had his special talents, too. He could add and subtract and divide and average a series of numbers in his head faster than most people can do it on a calculator. He could read a far off street sign without glasses before anyone else could see the sign.
He remembered details of time and place-- filling in the blanks for those of us who were not always as clear headed. He must have driven a hundred thousand miles pulling a travel trailer with a car full of kids, without ever an accident or a traffic ticket. St. Paul said that all special gifts and talents were useless without love. His gifts were useful, and they were all given in love.
Love is eternal.
"There are inspired messages, but they are temporary.
There are gifts of speaking but they will cease.
There is knowledge, but it will pass.
For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial, but when what is perfect comes, then what is partial will disappear . . . Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love."
from 1 Corinthians 13
My father was loved and admired by many people, but few would have ever thought of him as a religious man. He had some faults and failings. He was never very good at fixing things and though his brother and father and uncle were contractors and builders, he had a hard time driving a nail straight. Sometimes we laughed at his ineptness, which always came out of an eagerness to be helpful. He laughed with us.
Because love is not proud.
Bold and daring, macho and masterful were not adjectives that would spring to mind when describing Dad. He was always the perfect gentleman, the "prince" as my uncle called him. Because love is not ill-mannered, or selfish, or irritable. Nevertheless he was my number one hero. When I was a small girl, he chased away a creepy jerk who had touched my knee in a dark theater, and I knew I would always be safe and he would protect me.
Because love is not happy with evil.
In his business dealings, he kept the books meticulously.
Many people might have seen him as being ordinary and unremarkable, but his barely noticed qualities of respectability made him a rare person.
Some people thought him to be foolish to be so honest. He was fair in even the smallest details, when it would have been easy to take advantage of someone's mistake or to cover up one of his own.
I'm sure there were some who even thought he was no too bright for preferring that others be happy at his expense. His work had integrity.
More than once I saw him throw away printing orders that had come out imperfectly, before the customer had even seen it.
He would re-do a complete job to make sure it was the way he believed the customer deserved and expected it.
Others might have tried to pass it off, but he was not satisfied with giving less than his best. As a young idealist, I was genuinely impressed by his honesty and integrity.
Because love is happy with the truth.
Isn't it strange that Dad demonstrated St. Paul's definition of love so well? He was not a scholar of the Bible.
He may not have known these particular verses, which are familiar to me. I can quote them from memory and tell you what they mean, but Daddy had them written in his heart in a wordless way that showed his understanding was perhaps better than all of the scholars and theologians who have ever made commentary on the subject.
He was not a saint . . . not holy . . . certainly not perfect . . . Merely a respectable man, which may be even more rare.
I am thankful for having a Dad who showed me with his whole life what the words mean: the meaning of patience, kindness, courtesy, generosity acceptance, honesty, integrity, humility, and forgiveness.
In his everyday life he showed things that the world deems foolish and values so little . . . and he made me smile.
No one ever loved me like my father.
Cecil Barton = Jan. 31, 1912 - Jan. 11, 1994
(See also, my story about "Me , Dad and the Merry -Go-Round".)