Beginning strong is easy. Ending well, however, takes great skill and effort.
I want to end well. Like Elwood did. I want the echo of healthy robust relationships, which I’ve nurtured, to be an inspiration to others. That’s what he did.
Just an everyday man, he was. Yet he brought to life to what is precious and rare. He was a father who tended thoughtfully to the relationships with his wife and eight children. No small task for a man with a big family.
Elwood knew what it meant to relate with style.
He knew how to do the small things. There were many a day his young children would dash to him, as he came home from work, looking for his lunch box searching for the small piece of dessert he always saved just for them.
He knew how to simply be there for each of his children and later his grandchildren during the ordinary moments of daily life, as well as the important ones, the ball games, graduations, and performances. He loved creating together-fun times. Rallying the family to sing was one of his favorite ways to share the joy. Gathering everyone around meals was another way. Even in his later years, when his family had grown to reach 60 plus, they frequently came from far and wide to assemble around the table. Always having room for one more.
During a long car ride alone with Elwood, his youngest daughter’s boyfriend learned what each of Elwood’s children already knew. Their dad delighted in them. Each of them. Taking advantage of the long car ride as an opportunity to get acquainted with the new suitor, Elwood talked about his children. His daughter’s boyfriend was eager to hear what Elwood had to say about her, and was worried the trip may be too short as Elwood gave minuscule details about each of them starting with the eldest.
He took heed of the Apostle Paul’s words “Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.” Philippians 2:4 NCV Elwood’s family were attracted to him like a magnet. He was a good listener and cared about their interests.
He emphasized the positive in life and people. Criticism’s were minimized and negatives were largely overlooked. Though none of us are perfect, including Elwood, he did many things right which made him a wonderful dad and husband.
During his funeral, I noticed how obvious Elwood’s love was for his wife, each and everyone of his children, and their families. I recognized the rare splendor of these relationships and how smoothly it can be translated into an intellectual understanding, and heart experience, of God’s love for them. This is a precious gift, and an exceptional legacy. So beautiful to see. As his pastor’s wife, it’s been a privilege for me, and my husband, to have known and loved Elwood, and to have shared some very special times with him.
He did it.
He ended life well.