A Tribute to My Dad. (Nov 4, 1937- March 25, 2015)
Eight weeks ago, I got “the call.” You had battled lung cancer courageously for 2.5 yrs but had finally passed and were now with Jesus. We knew you were in the final stages but you’re the toughest man I know; hey you had already beaten cancer two different times, one of which was pancreatic (a 5 year survival rate of just 6%). So we thought maybe lung cancer was just another hurdle. There were times we all thought you had taken a turn for the worse only to see you rebound time and again. You are no quitter and true to that, you fought until the very end. But it became clear to all of us kids (Dad raised 9) that it was time. Even then, you went on your terms making sure that you encouraged and blessed Diana and Donna (my sisters) who had cared for you so well.
It’s a little easier for me now, Dad. More and more when I think of you, I remember the joy that you shared not the pain you endured – and I smile. Two days before, AnneMarie, DJ and Bob (my cousins) were there to visit, to say hello and… to say goodbye. But this would be no somber affair as you perked up, telling stories, making them laugh and, when your voice started to fail making it difficult to breathe with the chest tube, you rolled up a piece of paper into a megaphone so you could be heard. After all the show must go on!
You were a man that loved to laugh, loved to make people laugh and loved to make others’ difficult times easier. You were a supreme optimist. In your world things were better than they used to be and you were convinced they would continue to get better. Every setback was just a pothole to drive over while you kept moving forward.
Thank you for sharing your world, your encouragement and your laughter with us! We’re proud to be part of your legacy. We love you and we miss you here.
I am my fathers son and when I think about all my Dad taught me, these 3 standout along with lessons I have learned from them.
Passion – Psalm 73:26
My Dad was a man fueled by passion. He taught me that without passion, life is just a routine. Passion towards your goals/dreams turns a routine day into an adventure so never let go of it. I have learned over the years that passion can drive me to accomplish things where others fail or give up.
Life Lesson: Find where God has given you passion and you will begin to find your ministry.
Perseverance – Galatians 6:9
My Dad was a man forged by perseverance. He taught me to never give up, to not be afraid to work hard, and to be a “whatever it takes” guy that people can depend on. There is no “can’t” because there is always a way. The best dreams are ones you have to fight for.
Life Lesson: God doesn’t call us to do anything part of the way, He asks if we are willing to go all-in.
Purpose – 1 Peter 2:9
My Dad was a man driven by purpose. He taught me to not be afraid to ask why. Things done without purpose are just tasks. There is always a reason and you can’t improve what you don’t understand. One of my favorite books is, “The Purpose Driven Life” which speaks about how purpose is key to any endeavor. One of my passions as a pastor is to help churches and people persevere with a purpose.
Life Lesson: God calls you FOR a Purpose, ON Purpose BUT its is for HIS Purpose, so hold it all loosely.
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.-Philippians 3:13-14
Here is what I said at my Dad’s memorial service:
“That in the last 20 years of my Dad’s life…”
- He Grew in Humility where there once was Pride
- He Grew in Dependence where there once was Self- Sufficiency
- He Grew in Hope where there once was Guilt
And he did all of this because he grew in FAITH!
My Dad came to realize believing in Jesus was not just a theology. For his faith to be real, it had to be a way of life. It had to be the center of his life and then everything else was small stuff by comparison… and he lived it.
That is what I call finishing strong!
Thank you Wallace Richard Gay, Sr. for finishing strong and setting the example for those who knew you, that it IS ALL ABOUT JESUS.