A particular family had three small children who were determined to have their own little puppy. Their Mother protested because she knew that somehow or other, she would end up caring for the pup. The children solemnly promised that they would take care of it. Finally she relented and they brought their little puppy home. They named him Danny and cared for him diligently – at first. However, sure enough, as time passed, their Mother found herself becoming increasingly responsible for taking care of the dog. Finally, she decided that the children were not living up to their promise so she began to search for a new home for Danny. When she found one and broke the news to the children, she was quite surprised that they had almost no reaction at all. One of them even said rather matter-of-factly, “We’ll miss him.”
“I’m sure we will,” Mum answered, “but he is too much work for one person and since I’m the one that has to do all the work, I say he goes.”
“But,” protested another child, “if he wouldn’t eat so much and wouldn’t be so messy, could we keep him?”
Mum held her ground, “It’s time to take Danny to his new home.”
Suddenly, with one voice and with tears in their eyes, the children exclaimed, “Danny? We thought you said Daddy!”
Well, okay, perhaps being too much work for one person, eating too much and being too messy around the house are not qualities of the ideal father. However, I am sure there are none of us who would deny the effects that our parents, including our fathers, have had on each of us, for better or for worse.
In 1999, the US Open was won by the American golfer, Payne Stewart, only a few months before he was killed in a plane crash.
In the early 80’s, Payne appears to have been a real pain with a rather unpleasant sort of personality.
However, after the death of his father in 1985, he gradually changed and became a kinder and gentler person. Then, in 1993, his best friend and fellow golfer Paul Azinger battled the same cancer that took his father’s life. And in the months before his death, he was quoted as saying, “I’m a lot more mature and happier. I’ve learned what’s really important.” He also cited a new-found faith to which he said he was drawn by the involvement of his children. And when he won the Open , beating out Phil Mickelson in a thrilling finish, he took Mickelson’s face in his hands and talked to him about the priorities which he had discovered. Mickelson, whose wife gave birth to their first child the next day, put it this way:
“When he grabbed my face and spoke to me about fatherhood, it changed my feeling about the disappointment I had just felt…to what’s more important in my life, the birth of this child and influencing this person in this world. And, Payne made it very apparent that that was what was more important to him too. Even though he had just won the greatest event in the game of golf, I sensed that he was more fulfilled by being a father to Aaron and Chelsea, and a husband to his wife Tracy, than he was by winning this tournament.”
Before he died so tragically, and at the pinnacle of his career, Stewart had got his act together, caused in part by the death of his father. And he himself had made a profound effect on the lives of his family and friends.
Paul Azinger in his moving tribute at Stewart’s memorial, quoted Stewart as saying: “I want to make sure my life is special while I’m here. You will be remembered, but will you be missed?”
Yes, Stewart will be remembered by his family and friends. And he will be missed. But I think the question he asked is the same question that each of us needs to ask ourselves: will I be missed? Just as he used the opportunities he had been given to make sure that he would be missed, I would suggest that every one of us not miss the opportunities we have to tell one another that we love them, as Christ loves them, and to live and behave accordingly, as in the sight of God
That way, we will be remembered … and we will be missed later.