Monday, July 20, 2015

The Boyd We Knew

This past week my father-in-law unexpectedly passed away.  On Saturday I spoke at his memorial service.  I have been asked by several people who were unable to come to the service to post what I wrote.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

I know these verses are usually read at weddings.  Charles actually read these when he married Nathan and me 21 years ago this very month in this sanctuary.  As we were standing in the receiving line that day just moments after the wedding, Boyd leaned over and said to me, “I now have another daughter.”  That was the first of many times Boyd called me his daughter, and I loved him as if he were my dad.

I was 15 when my mom married Don … who to the rest of the world is known as my step-dad, but to me he is my dad.  I had never really known what it was like to have a dad who loved my unconditionally, who would protect me and always be there for me.  And I certainly never dreamed that 6 years later He would give me another man who would also love me as if I were his daughter … he would love me unconditionally and always be there for me.  I am incredibly blessed to have had two dads … neither biological and both who showed me Jesus in their actions every single day.

When I think of Boyd, I think of these verses because they describe who he was perfectly.  Boyd was a man who loved others well, and he loved his family deeply.  We were his life.  Every year we would ask him what he wanted for Christmas, and without fail the very first words out of his mouth were, “More family time.”  He wasn’t a man who valued possessions.  He valued time with those he loved the most.  One of the last conversations he had with each of kids was he wanted to get us all together on Friday night to grill burgers.  We were all were together last night, but never did any of us imagine our plans would change from grilling burgers to grieving the sudden loss of him.

My friend Mary asked me a few days ago if I remembered the first time I ever met Boyd.  I laughed and said, “That’s a story I’ll never forget!”  Nathan and I had been dating a little less than a month, and his parents wanted us to go to dinner with them one night, so we met them at Cracker Barrel.  I had already causally met Lynn, but I had never met Boyd.  Boyd began telling me how he and Lynn had met.  How they had only known each other for 10 weeks before getting married.  I remember thinking, “Aw … what a sweet love story”, and then things quickly took a turn.

He had moved on from talking about how they had only known each other 10 weeks when they married, and the next words I remember coming out of his mouth were, “That’s back when Lynn and I could still fit in a small bathtub together.”

And that’s when I learned two things about Boyd.  One, He was an open book.  He had no secrets, and two if he knew anything about you, you had no secrets either because he was sure to tell them.  Boyd lived an open and honest life.  He had nothing to hide.

I learned over the years that the only time Boyd wouldn’t share something was when he was helping someone.  He wasn’t one to brag about doing something for someone else.  In fact, on Tuesday afternoon Nathan received a phone call from an organ and tissue donor coordinator.  Boyd had signed up to be a donor, but never told any of us he had done so.  His last act of kindness was an act that touched numerous lives.  He freely gave everything he had to give to help as many people as he could.  That is exactly how Boyd lived his entire life.  Freely giving of himself to help others.

I told Boyd one time if he were a superhero he would be known as “The Meddler”.  Boyd had a tendency to meddle in everything, but he never did so because he wanted to control any of us.  He just wanted to make sure we were okay.  I never ended a phone call with him or had him walk away from me without him first asking, “Do you need anything?” or “What can I do to help?”

He loved big.  He loved well.  He loved with his entire being.

So how do these verses perfectly describe Boyd?

Love is patient.  If you knew Boyd, you know he never got in a hurry.  Never.  He actually was given a hat one year for Christmas that said, “I have one speed.  Slow.”  I never saw him in a rush or rush anyone else.  I think his patience shined the brightest when he was dealing with his grandkids.  He never got impatient with them.  He never rushed them or made them feel they were in his way.  He treasured every moment he was given with them.

The other night we were meeting with Brad Horner, and he told us that one thing about Boyd that stood out to him was how patient he was.  He said he had noticed when he was in Krogers how Boyd never got impatient with customers.  That’s mostly true … unless you had a large stack of coupons.  He hated coupons, especially if someone was trying to cheat the system when using them.  One of his biggest pet peeves was if the stack was stapled together.  Sometimes if I had a lot of coupons I would purposefully go through his line just to try to aggravate him, but it never seemed to work.  He would just smile at me and say, “Hand them over.  Let’s see what you’ve got.”

Although I never saw Boyd get in a hurry, there was that one time … and I am sorry I missed seeing this in person.

Boyd and Lynn had taken Brenon, Sara and Hannah to the beach a few years ago.  This was prior to Lynn buying her van, so they borrowed ours.  Brenon, Sara and Hannah tell the story like this …

“Grammy hit a curb, and one of the hubcaps went rolling down this 5 lane highway.  Thankfully she had come to a complete stop because all of a sudden, without saying a word, Pa jumps out of the van and goes running across the highway chasing this rolling hubcap.  Lynn is yelling, “What does he think he’s doing?”  Boyd successfully catches the hubcap without getting himself run over.  I asked him later what he was thinking.  Why was he risking his life for a hubcap, and he replied, “Because they were Robin’s hubcaps, and I had been given strict instructions to bring your van back in one piece.”

Love is kind.  Boyd was the kindest, gentlest man.  Kind and gentle are two words that have been used repeatedly over the past few days to describe him.  It’s simply who he was.  It was his nature.

Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  Boyd was a very humble man, who really never saw his value in this world.  He couldn’t see what an incredible man he was.  I’ve told him many times I wish he could see the man we all see.  He was a selfless, kind, gentle, loving man.  I would tell him this, and he would simply reply with, “I appreciate you saying that.”  I could tell he didn’t believe that about himself.

He did have moments of pride though.  Not self-pride …  he was proud of his children and grandchildren.  If you’ve ever had a conversation with Boyd, at some point in that conversation he’s most likely talked about one or more of his children and/or grandchildren.  You’ve seen in his eyes the love he had for them and how proud he was of them.

Love does not dishonor others.  Boyd treated every person he met with respect.  Time and time again I’ve heard how he treated his fellow employees … especially the young college students at Krogers.  They all say he treated them with respect, kindness and patience.  When we were out eating he would always call our server by name, and he did the same with the customers coming through his line at Krogers.  Once he learned your name, he never forgot it.

Love is not self-seeking.   Boyd never insisted on getting his own way.  He would always say, “It doesn’t matter to me.  It’s whatever everyone else wants.”  If you pushed him to share his wishes about something he would eventually tell you, but he always ended it with, “But it’s whatever everyone else wants.  I’m flexible.  I’m just happy to have everyone together.”  He wanted our time to be enjoyable, and he wanted everyone else to be happy.  Knowing that the people he loved were happy and enjoying themselves is what made him happy.

Love is not easily angered.  It took a lot to anger Boyd.  If he ever did get angry it was usually about something someone had done to someone in his family.  But he did have the occasional outburst from time to time.  Because it was so out of character for him, when we saw it happen it was funny to watch him.

Sara cannot tell this story without laughing hysterically.  One day he had gone to Sonic to get drinks, and when he got back to the house he accidentally dropped Lynn’s drink on the ground.  If you know this family, you know we take our Sonic drinks seriously.  When the drink fell to the ground, he suddenly kicked the cup as hard as he could across the yard and said a few choice words.  The way Sara describes what happened, it probably could have been a commercial for Sonic drinks, and how they are so good it’s completely devastating to drop one on the ground.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.  Boyd never kept a list.  If you wronged him in any way, he would often forgive you before you ever had a chance to ask for forgiveness.  And if you did ask him to forgive you, he wiped the slate completely clean.  “Life is too short to hold grudges.” he would say.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  Boyd wasn’t perfect; he was human.  But there was nothing evil about Boyd … he was just the opposite.  He was the most truthful, honest person I know.

Love always protects.  Boyd was definitely a protector.  He always hovered around us, often meddling, to make sure we were okay.  He would have done whatever it took to make sure all of us were protected.  Even his young Kroger co-workers talk about how he would look out for them if they had to collect buggies after dark, and how he would give them life-lesson talks often.  He was such a caring man.

Love always trusts.  Boyd always tried to believe the best in people.  He could always see something good in almost everyone.  If someone did something that hurt him, he would quickly come to their defense and start trying to make excuses as to why they had done what they had done.

Love always hopes.  Boyd was a positive person.  He always believed when things were hard they were soon to get better.

When I was paralyzed a few years ago, Boyd was one of my biggest encouragers.  “Tomorrow will be better, and you know I’m here if you need anything”, he’d always say.  I told him once he needed a t-shirt that said, “Tomorrow will be better” because that always seemed to be his motto.

Love always perseveres.  Boyd was long-suffering.  If things were tough, he was going to stick it out with you.  He would do his best to make things better, but when he couldn’t, he still never left.

When my mom passed away 3 years ago, Lynn and Boyd stayed during the entire visitation.  Quietly sitting there for several hours.  I cannot tell you the comfort it gave me to look out and see them there.  They couldn’t make it better, but they were there hurting with me.  Boyd would occasional come up and remind me they were still there in case I needed anything.

My pregnancy with Hannah was tough, and I was hospitalized several times for dehydration.  One morning around 7:30, on his way to work, Boyd showed up with flowers for me.  They were pink.  He said to me, “I brought you pink flowers not because you are having a girl, but because I know it’s your favorite color.  I hope they brighten your day just a little bit, and it will remind you I love you.  Can I get you anything else?”

Love never fails.  Boyd’s love was never ending.  It was unconditional and freely given.  He didn’t expect anything back in return, and would often love with the risk of getting hurt.  But he loved people.  He cared deeply for others.

Boyd was a rare jewel, and we were blessed to have been loved by him.  He was an incredible man who had the capacity to love far beyond what many of us are capable.

Last Christmas Sondra and I begged him to get text messaging.  Somehow we finally convinced him it would be a good thing for him to do.  Sara spent most of Christmas day trying to teach him how to text, and I think out of all of us he texted Sara and Hannah the most.

He used “lol” in a text to Sara one day, so she asked him what lol meant.  He replied back with, “Love one lots”.  In his mind what else could it possibly mean when texting your granddaughter.

In October we took a family trip to the beach.  One morning I had gone down to the beach to sit and just watch the waves, and shortly after getting settled in Boyd joined me.  We were alone for a couple of hours just talking.  I thanked him for planning a trip to the beach for all us.  It’s one of my favorite places, and I hadn’t been able to go since before getting sick.

I told him I was convinced there would be beaches in Heaven, and they would be even more beautiful and peaceful than what we were experiencing that morning.  We talked a bit more about what a beautiful morning it was.  The weather was perfect … the beach wasn’t crowded.  But talking about the weather never lasted long between Boyd and I.  I had a unique relationship with him, and we could get into some deep life conversations.

I looked over at him and said … “Boyd, you know how I have been on to you and Lynn about making sure you have everything in order since my mom died?  Well, I need to ask you something, and I need you to be completely honest with me.”

He promised me he would be, and reminded me there wasn’t anything he and I couldn’t talk about.

“I need to know if you are ready to go?  Are you really ready to go?”

He said, “Honey, are you asking me what I think you are asking me?”

“Yes, I am, and I need to know.  I need you to be honest with me and tell me are you ready?”

He said, “I am.  I am ready to go.  When I go I am going to Heaven.”

I had no idea 9 months later he would pass away without any warning, but I am so grateful I asked him.  I cannot imagine going through this without knowing.

Grieving is not easy, but grieving without hope would be devastating.

When we were looking at memorial cards the other day trying to pick one out, Nathan did not want the cemetery to be referred to as his “final resting place” because that is not his final resting place.

Because Boyd placed his hope in Jesus, His final resting place is Heaven.  And one day, those of us who have also placed our hope in Jesus, we will see him again.  There will be no need for him to ask us for more family time because we will spend eternity together.

I ask that you please pray for our family.  Our hearts are broken.  Our lives are forever changed.  I have to admit I don’t understand.  I don’t understand why God took Boyd.  He was a man who made your life richer just by knowing him.  There are so many other people that are causing harm to others He could have taken.  I am trying not to be angry.  I know Boyd wouldn’t want that.  But it’s hard.  I know in the depths of my heart God is sovereign.  I know that even though this was a complete shock to us, this didn’t take God by surprise.  His days were already numbered before the foundation of the earth.

I miss him.  I miss his laugh.  I miss his sweet smile.  I even miss his meddling.

If ever there were a man who heard the words, “well done”, it was Boyd.  He wasn’t a perfect man, but as Nathan put it the other night, he was perfect for us.

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