Three men and a Body

Posted on September 11, 2009

My brother, a hired priest, and a woman I had never met, stood in a small room.  In the middle of the room was an inexpensive casket.  In the casket, the body of a man I had not seen for ten years; my father.  The woman, my step-mother, I suppose, had married my father a few years earlier.  The small chapel was empty save the four of us, the casket, and an electronic version of Amazing Grace.  I grieved that day, not for losing my father, but for losing possibilities.  I had lost my father years before, but I had always held on to the possibility that he might realize the wreckage he had made of his life and turn it around.  He never did.  His last ten years were spent in prison.  He died alone and was buried with four people present.  One of them was paid to be there.

He had spent his entire life trying to get what he wanted, when he wanted it.  He ended his life alone.

Years later, and a world away, I sat in a packed chapel, as hundreds of people gathered to mourn the loss of my father-in-law.  People from multiple professions, and stations in life, as well as people from other nations came to pay their respects.  Family, friends, colleagues, students, church members, all gathered in this church.  Memorial scholarships and events were dedicated to the memory of this man.  His research, writing and generosity still influence people today.

He had given his life away to the service of others, the call of science and medicine, and the leadership of his family.  People not only gathered around him but still gather around his legacy.

Serving the desires of our selfishness has a destructive impact on our lives.  The things we believe will satisfy us are driven further away by our pursuit of them.  What you plant you will harvest.


  • Mary Jo Pierce

    What a reminder to hit the “pause” button on life and reflect, remember and regroup!

    “The true legacy of a servant will not be determined by what he has done but by what others do as a result of what he has done.”

    Thanks Bob!

  • It still there for me, has happen whit my best friend who had an accident the day of my birthday and who dies exactly a month later of me becoming a Child of God. The difference was that I was living in Miami when this happen in Peru…I came back havig this confident assurance of She being just steps close to a therapy to recover from the car accident, and She went to be with God 2 hours later from my visit. Then, I was reminded of how HUMAN I should be. My heart was soften, I pray that God would still teaching me how to let it go. It’s ok to slow down and love….it’s ok. 🙂

  • Phil Cole

    Very similar to my experience with my father.. lots of possibilities, a missed opportunity to West Point as a young man, Trained in Army Intelligence at Fort Bragg…but not really intelligent with his life of his families where it counted..he ended it all at 56 yrs. old and me… a brand new spirit filled-believer in Jesus walking with my Heavenly Father for 30 yrs. now.