I wrote this back in 2010, after we suffered the loss of my husband’s father. With Father’s Day being this past weekend, my husband was missing his dad.
Recently my husband’s father passed away. During the visitation, it was obvious many had memories of Giles they wanted to share. At the funeral, my husband’s two brothers spoke; sharing things about their dad they felt led to share. As each of them spoke, I looked around, as much as I could from the family room, at the people gathered there. It was obvious those who knew Giles well were in agreement of the characteristics my brother-in-laws were extolling.
I was in a unique position. I was family, no doubt. I became family eleven years ago when I married the second son of Giles: my dear husband, Jeff. But I wasn’t able to nod my head in agreement as others were doing, in personally remembering the good qualities of my husband’s father. I didn’t really know my father-in-law well. In fact, I could probably count on one hand the number of conversations he and I had together.
Before one jumps to conclusions, let me assure it wasn’t because we didn’t get along. I thought he was a great guy, friendly as anyone could be. It was due to an illness that crept up on him. Giles began acting quite not as himself. We had only been married for a year when it became obvious something was dreadfully amiss with Giles. Medical help was sought and eventually, dementia became known as the culprit. Dementia stole our time with Giles. For the majority of our marriage Giles lived in a nursing home. We did not even live in the same town as my husband is military and was stationed elsewhere. His memory failed him and he didn’t know whom Jeff was, much less me, who had known him so briefly.
All this is to say that although I may not have known Giles personally for long, I did know of the characteristics my brother-in-laws were speaking. I get to see those characteristics in my husband. The man Giles raised.
Giles took the time to make sure his boys knew what they needed to know to be what a man needs to be. I’m sure if you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, the verse “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”, Proverbs 22:6, has come to mind. Yes, that is exactly what Giles did. And I haven’t seen any of his sons depart from it either.
First and foremost, Giles emphasized the need to know Christ as Savior. He was the earthly father showing his sons the Heavenly Father. No other duty as a parent is more important. I wasn’t there for the conversations but I can imagine Giles incorporated Romans 3:23 in his talks with his sons. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” As a dad, he would have done them a grave and eternal disservice had he never explained their need for a Savior. My husband knew this, and recognized he needed Christ in his own life when he was a young adult. Although Jeff never was in trouble with the law or rebellious, Giles must have taught him that he, Jeff, would have to make the decision for himself. There’s no riding on Daddy’s deacon coattails. Jeff took his decision to follow Christ seriously. Jeff has always credited Giles for this.
By the time I met him, Jeff was grounded in Scriptures and his love for the Lord was obvious. The first time I heard him in prayer in our singles’ Sunday school class, I was floored by his humble and sincere approach to the Lord. After the prayer, I remember thinking what a prayer warrior he was and I resolved to get to know him as a friend.
Jeff’s younger brother, Greg, spoke of other qualities about their father. He mentioned that Giles was an affectionate father. Yes, I see that daily in Jeff. He is always hugging and kissing our children. People we know have mentioned how obvious it is Jeff loves his children. My children know there is always a hug waiting. It is as if that hug is coming indirectly from Gramps himself.
Giles’s strong work ethic was mentioned at the funeral. Boy, I can attest to that! There have been times I wanted to ask Giles if he really needed to instill such a strong work ethic in Jeff, (as I dearly like to be lazy). Over the years, Jeff used said work ethic and has ministered to people by working on their houses. He gained the know-how from Giles who saw his boys as free labor for the construction site. Undoubtedly, I’ve been so thankful for that work ethic many times. I don’t have to worry if my husband is going to be the provider.
I also know the job will be done well. I won’t delve into the little speech, or rant, Jeff gives about shoddy workmanship. Giles trained him to do the job right. This past year, I even saw this being passed to the next generation. I had acquired a free futon couch for Benjamin’s room. It needed a bit of fixing. Benjamin got right on it, repaired it in the manner that he referred to as “the Lee way”.
The sense of fairness Giles had was mentioned at the funeral. Being fair demands for accountability of one’s self. Admitting when one is wrong. I don’t know how many other fathers will admit to their children when they are in the wrong. I’ve observed Jeff do it and also apologize to the child.
Another attribute spoken of at the funeral was humility. Giles was talked of as a humble man. I knew as such from things Jeff had told me about his father. I knew that because Jeff is willing to humble himself. Giles was not one to brag about Giles Lee. He wanted any glory to go to God. Jeff has done likewise in his life whether it be about his talents or his earnest desire to share the Gospel with the Iraqis.
Giles taught Jeff not to sully the name he was given… not just Lee, but even more so, Child of God. Whether it was a job in construction or doing what is right, your name is going on it. It’s an integrity thing.
You may think it odd for me to mention humility earlier when I seem to be bragging on my husband and his father. Forgive me if bragging is how this comes across. I write this to demonstrate the difference God makes in a man’s life as he fulfills the role of father. How Giles fulfilled his role as a Christian father was a priceless component of my husband seeking his own relationship with Christ, and thus, becoming a Christian father as well.
So as I sat there in the funeral, I thought about these things and the unique perspective I had of Giles Lee: of knowing him mostly through what he instilled in my husband. Due to Giles’s diligence to follow Scripture in the raising of his sons, I have a husband who chose to turn to God. That husband led our own children to Christ. What a priceless legacy of Giles Lee.
At the funeral home, when I was by myself a bit and as I gazed upon Giles in the casket, these words came to mind: