November 6, 1923...Beebe, Arkansas...Ernest and Fannie Bruce. Their lives were to change forever that day. They were about to become parents for the very first time.
My father would be 89 years old today. Instead, I like to believe he is celebrating his birthday in Heaven with friends who have gone on before. This will be the sixth year we are without him as we remember his life.
Daddy grew up in a much simpler time. He was the son of a music/band teacher in Arkansas public schools. This kept his family constantly on the move. By the time he graduated high school, his family had moved close to twenty times.
It was during his years of service that he met and married his "Tweetie." Their wedding occurred over their lunch hour, with just one other couple in attendance as their witnesses. After they were married, he went back to his post, and Mom went back to the operating room where she was a nurse. They moved several times in the early years of their marriage as he would receive new assignments with the army.
Following his service to America, he set out to begin a career. They chose Memphis, Tennessee to put down their roots. He applied for a job with IBM. Remember, he had NO college. No one was being hired at IBM without a college background. Daddy did not take "no" for an answer and his persistence paid off. He was hired. While his department was sold to other companies through the years and experienced name changes, he NEVER looked for another job in his life. His job took our family to Texas in the 1960s. It would be his last move in a lifetime of moves. God was good to give him over forty years of employment with no interruption whatsoever during that time.
It was during his years in Memphis, TN that he and Mom experienced their own life-changing event. Because they were unable to have children themselves, they chose to grow their family through adoption. I am so grateful they gave me the gifts of love and family when they took me in and made me their own. I never knew anything different and proudly advocate for the cause of the orphan and adoption.
There are sooo many words I could use to describe my dad as I walk down Memory Lane today, probably way more than I have time to elaborate on. I was blessed with an incredible man to call Dad. Here are just a few that come to mind.
Godly: There was never a doubt about where he stood with regard to the things of God. Until his last year of life, I cannot ever remember him ever missing church. He was not ashamed to call himself Christian.
Faithful: Faithfulness in my dad's life was represented on many fronts, more than I could possibly name. He was faithful to his Saviour. He was faithful to his Tweetie. He was faithful to his family. He was faithful to his church. He was faithful to his friends. He was faithful to his job and responsibilities.
Giving: I cannot remember a week when my dad did not give his offering at Sunday morning church. He.never.missed. God blessed that. I also cannot remember a time when our family did without. God's blessing was evident ALWAYS and looking back, I firmly believe that is because my father was always faithful to give back to his Saviour.
Frugal: Alongside giving, I am reminded of my dad's ability to make the most of what he had. I am sure that goes back to growing up without. My dad was a frugal man, however if he saw a need you could often find him "at the front of the line" taking care of it. I cannot count the number of kids he helped through college whose path would have been far more difficult without his giving heart. I am so thankful to have grown up in a home where giving was practiced. It gives me joy to continue that legacy of my dad's as I am able today.
Perfectionist: Good or bad I am not sure, but in his book, if something was worth doing, it had to be done RIGHT. I didn't get that for waaaayyyyyy too long. He was never beyond sending me back to do it All.Over.Again. I'm getting better about doing things "right", Dad. I think you're rubbing off on me.
Compassionate: Dad had a "heart" for children. He loved kids of all kind, but was a bit partial to his Sunday morning kids. We attended the same church for many, many, many years. Sometime, thirty to thirty-five years ago, he took on the responsibility of being the "door-holder" for the Beginner Department. Sunday after Sunday, cold or hot, rain or shine, he was there; opening the door, calling each child by name, and gently guiding them to their Sunday School class. (As time passed, he started keeping a "cheat sheet" in his Bible so he would always have the right name of the child and family.)
I am sure he would love Gundars and Elina with his whole heart and be all about telling others about our "adventure", helping us to raise money, and encourage us all along the way. I can only imagine the excitement and joy he would be experiencing as he walked this path with us. I am hoping he can "watch along" from Heaven's sidelines as we continue this journey.
There are so many more words I could use to describe my father. There are so many things he was to me. There are so many things I wish I could tell him today. I miss him, yes. I long to just sit down by him, one.more.time. I treasure the memories. But most of all, I GLORY in the reality of Heaven and knowing I will be with him far, far longer through eternity than I will be separated from him in this lifetime. I love you, Daddy.