I don’t remember our first introduction Mr. P. I only know I came into your paneled den on Judy Lynn as a teenage girl and from that moment forward I would never know one moment ‘s lack of your acceptance, kindness or welcome. Quiet, kind, generous, devoted, how could one so private be so tirelessly open to a house full of teenagers? As we all participated in epic antics, you never ONCE gave even a hint of irritation or annoyance. We marveled at your blue notebooks cataloging your VHS tape collection with meticulous precision, providing hours of classic movie watching. We lounged on your couches, laughed till we cried, and felt completely at home.
You would come and go to the tower like clockwork, but whether at home or at work your presence was felt. So respected were you by us kids, we would not dare sit in your chair, even in your absence.
Never could I have imagined I was forging a relationship with my future father-in-law and eventual Papaw to my children.
In the days leading up to our marriage, your life continued to transform in Christ through a renewed hunger for being taught God’s word. I witnessed your choice to embrace an incredibly uncomfortable place for a shy, private father of not just showing your sons your love but opening up your heart with words to verbalize it. You gave life to their souls as you ended each phone conversation or departure from “the boys”, now young men, with a hug and an, “I love you son.”
My favorite saying about you, as I became your daughter in law, was, “What I didn’t get in a husband, I got in a father in law”. A “Mr. P list” awaited your every arrival in town. From repairs to limitless handy projects, helping untangle the latest checkbook snarl or loading months of “out of whack” figures into the computer till all perfectly reconciled; you would not budge until all was done. Inevitably, I would express to you embarrassment about my inadequacy causing the extent of your service. You would kindly smile and respond with the affirmation of how much “I had on my plate”, saying, “Nah, I don’t know how you get it all done.”
Fussy babies, relentless toddlers, or a child that needed to be carefully taught a new skill were your specialty. Your patience was convicting and limitless. You were even nicknamed “ Matthew Cuthbert” (the tender-eyed, kind old gentleman from Anne of Green Gables) by a young lady that came to know you in our home. Like the character in the story, you modeled persevering kindness, the solid quiet kind. People in need of that gentle kindness were impacted by it.
The closest you ever came to correcting me was one Sunday as we waited for Jeff to leave the church. I was tired, and the kids were, well being kids. As we waited in the van I became impatient and began to complain about Jeff being so slow. You quietly said, “What he does is people. You can’t rush that.”
I need to be done here with my reflections because you would have blushed and felt uncomfortable knowing I was “telling stories on you”. Yet the impact on my heart will never be done. You will always be Mr. P to me and I will carry the memories tenderly till heaven. Thank you for the love you portrayed.
Love comes quietly, more profoundly than noise
Allows itself to be overlooked, being paid attention not its aim
Love delights in serving
For it has found the secret joy of being a benefit to others
Love gives generously, with no need of return
Confident that provision bestowed is abundant and intended for sharing
Love expresses with sincerity
As fruit from truth’s tree, honestly nourishing the souls of those who taste it
Love exits graciously
Preferring those in its care not be saddened but strengthened in its departure
Paul Eugene Parish
August 13, 1937- March 10, 2018