Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What Will They Say?

Focus, the personal development portion of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People course, encourages participants to create a personal mission statement.  After watching a video of a lady's 80th birthday party where guests share how they were influenced by her, we were asked two questions: How do you want to be remembered? What will they say on your 80th birthday? 

We're thankful he's celebrating 80 years
Born, April 9, 1934, so April 9, 2014 will be 80 years for our Dad, Ed Brown.  That's a long life of memories, influences, and advice.  A difficult but valuable lesson Dad taught us growing up was Life Isn't Fair.  After uttering the famous childhood words "That's not fair," his response was always, "Give me the definition of fair.  How would you make that situation fair?"  This usually stumped us, of course, because our complaints were often how we thought we should have something someone else had.  As wonderful as life can be, it certainly isn't fair.  Never has been. Never will be.  Realizing that has helped us many times.

We watched Dad work long hours as a basketball and golf coach and a social studies teacher. We didn't have luxuries, but we had what we needed.  He taught us to be loyal to our employers, and if others didn't do their jobs, we still needed to do ours.  He also taught us to be coachable, to learn from others and from our own mistakes. 

Birthday parties are usually celebrated with family, but we did something different this year. When developing a mission statement in Focus, participants list roles: parent, friend, spouse, teacher, sibling, etc.  For each role, participants list how they want to be remembered in that role: as a mother, I want to be understanding; as a wife, I want to be patient, etc.  The role Dad is most known for is also his passion, teacher.  Although he retired as a public school educator after 35 years, he continues to teach at Concord Baptist Church, so we celebrated Dad's 80 years with the men in his Sunday school class and their wives.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;  or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; Romans 12:6-7

Bill & Dad
Bill Caldwell, also an educator, met Dad when he started teaching at T.L. Hanna High School in 1966.  They've served together as deacons and teachers at Concord, but most importantly, they've been friends for almost 50 years.

Betty Crump shared Dad's concern and kind words many years ago to her daughter, who was his student, and his encouragement to them after her death.  Most recently, she appreciated the joy on Mom and Dad's faces when she returned to church after  neurosurgery.  Betty also said Bobby will always be in Dad's class.

Several men reminded us of Dad's love of Southern Gospel and his relentless attempts to play a C.D. every Sunday on a devise he cannot seem to operate. Dad taught history, so it wasn't a surprise when someone shared that Dad chases a few rabbits during class.  Don't ask a question about the Northern and Southern Kingdoms unless you want a full account of Hebrew history.  A few years ago I met Dad's friend and fellow teacher, Mark Hopkins, leaving his hospital room, and he said, "You better hurry, he's teaching the Sunday school lesson to anyone who will listen."

Uncle Sam Knox shared his first impressions of Dad as the too cool, know-it-all older brother of his future wife, my late aunt Glenda.  Dad also led him into officiating football, where they spent many Friday nights together and golf, where Sam finally reached his goal of beating his brother-in-law/friend.  

Mom said she barely knew Dad when they married, but it's been fun. At their 40th Anniversary party, her dad, my wonderfully sarcastic Daddy Luke, said, "I know Sheila and Ed were meant for each other," How sweet. "because no one else could be married to either of them."

How do you want others to remember you?  What will they say at your 80th birthday party? We have gifts.  We have passions.  It is how we use these gifts and passions that will be remembered.  

Happy Birthday, Dad,

Susi & Katy