Did you know that death is life’s greatest teacher? And that’s because it’s death that teaches us everything about life and in some cases, if we’re receptive enough, about our life’s purpose.
You see, last Saturday I was sitting by the grave at my father’s funeral. And it was the words from Pastor Gloria Espeseth’s grave that revealed to me what was so obvious that had always been there in front of me.
What she revealed to me was that my father was a classroom teacher and had a ministry. A classroom and a ministry that I had never recognized before.
And what it also revealed is that we, each one of us, are teachers in this world. Moreover, we all have a ministry.
In my father’s case, he owned a Standard Oil Bulk dealership, and as a result, he delivered large quantities of fuel to ranchers and farmers every day. And invariably, after filling up their tanks, he would sit down and have coffee with them.
It was a time when going to town wasn’t as frequent as it is now, so he was a friendly face when they needed it and a source of news, not gossip, who kept them informed.
In the beginning, my father had an airplane which he equipped with skis in the winter. And once in a while, after a big snowstorm, he carried supplies for stranded farmers and even ferried a pregnant woman into town to give birth at the hospital.
He also owned a crop spraying business and so he and we contributed to the yields that the farmers then reaped.
But my father was neither talkative nor a preacher. He was a listener and reader of words and situations. And so, his teaching and ministry in his unique classroom was primarily by example rather than words.
He taught people confidence by being, at one time or another, a diligent city treasurer, school board treasurer, and church treasurer.
He taught people about perseverance and hope by surviving a major explosion at the age of 50 that doctors said he would never survive.
He taught people respect by doing little things like always wearing dress shoes on Sundays instead of boots, going to church regularly, not swearing, not going to bars, and having coffee with my grandmother. every morning.
He taught people contentment by being positive and not complaining. And he taught us love by always making sacrifices for us.
But he was not so unique in his generation. You all have fathers and mothers who have done the same things, especially in small town America.
They were all teachers, and we are all teachers and preachers, whether we know it or not.
You see, our lives don’t really belong to us. Life isn’t so much about doing what we want, or as Frank Sinatra and Elvis used to sing, “doing it our way.” It’s about doing what we are equipped to do because we are all pieces of a puzzle.
Heavyweight champion boxer Muhammad Ali once said that service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth. Rather, your service to others is the gratitude you express for the free gift you receive from an eternal home in Heaven.
That’s the main thing and that’s what my father’s death taught me.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Dickinson Press, nor the ownership of the Forum.