While I was in college I remember coming home for vacations and getting drafted to help out with some project around the house. Dad would call me George when he deemed the project of a more masculine nature. Sometimes it was painting or cleaning or yard work. Well, I didn’t mind too much, but I was pleasantly surprised when upon my graduation from Faith Baptist Bible College Dad informed me that “George Doesn’t Come Here Anymore.” He even had a cartoon from the newspaper on his desk with those words on it. As far as he was concerned I had put in my time and as a college graduate he would not draft me for projects of this nature any more. This was one way he could show that he was proud of me. Dad still had projects to do that required help from someone. All of my brothers-in-law came to the rescue. Dad used these same jobs to show the new family members that they were part of the Garrett family.
Like many professions, mine requires me to continually go back to school to get more training and to maintain my teacher certification. After seventeen years and more education, I arrived at another milestone, receiving a Master’s of Arts in Special Education. Dad, Mom, Ronnie (who I had been corresponding with for several months) Steve, Gale, Eric and Tim were there for the big day. Our conversation after this event made it clear to me that, again, he loved me and was proud of me.
My Dad required much of us – chores, obedience and respect. I would tell my friends that he was a general at home and a sergeant at work. As an adult, I bravely told him this assuming he would think it was funny. Not so! At any rate, I am thankful that my Dad instilled in us a great work ethic. When someone comments on my faithfulness or consistency, I know that God enables me to be faithful and consistent and used my Dad to train me to be this way.
Recently, on November 24, 2020 I remembered my Dad because he had died 30 years ago on that date. That year it was two days after Thanksgiving. His lung cancer had returned and I was teaching in Madrid, Spain at a missionary children’s school. I had substitutes lined up and other preparations made. I was just waiting for a call to inform me that I needed to return to Colorado. On a Thursday evening, Colorado time and Friday morning Spain time, I got the call. One of my coworkers went and purchased a ticket and booked my flight. Another one came to help me with the packing while yet another picked me up and drove me to the airport. By Friday evening Colorado time, I was in Denver. I spent the night in Denver and then was driven to SE Colorado the next day. My dad had revived somewhat and I had the privilege of spending a few days with my parents and siblings. That thanksgiving was an especially precious family time.
Two days after Thanksgiving, it was evident that soon my Dad would be passing from this life into the next. By early afternoon, Ronnie arrived and Dad gave us his blessing because by then we were engaged. We could barely hear his words because he was so weak. That evening, when the time drew closer, we gathered around Dad’s bed and sang hymns as he entered the presence of his and our Lord.