A Tribute to My Father

Two days ago, July 6, my father, Mason A. Lewis, passed away from what was apparently a massive heart attack while having a procedure done at the local hospital to discover the source of some internal bleeding.  My mom had told me a few days before that dad was concerned about the procedure; a premonition?  Who knows?  I only know he's not here any more, and that's all that matters, as far as this earth is concerned.  He was 85 years old.

To put it mildly, my father did not grow old gracefully, but he doesn't have a monopoly on that.  He could be incorrigible and very hard to get along with these last few years.  But that's not what I will remember about him.  He was, on the whole, a very good father; not perfect, but there is only one Perfect Father, and He's in heaven.  I do know that, when I was a child, I never once wondered if there was going to be food on the table, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head.  He provided, and that can't be said of many, many fathers today.  We always had a Christmas and there was always an Easter basket.  Those are small things now, maybe, but they weren't to a child.  I wish I had appreciated it all more at the time.

I probably also owe him my life-long livelihood.  Since I was 18 years old, I've been teaching in some capacity or another--preaching, college work, whatever.  I've always been good at public speaking, and was told at a relatively young age that I had a talent for it and a very good voice.  My dad had a wonderful speaking voice, something that, perhaps gentically, I inherited from him.  Ultimately, any talent I have in that regard comes from God, of course, and I've always tried to give it back.  But, God works through humans, and it's probable He worked through my father to provide me the ability to communicate in a clear and forceful way--to preach, and hopefully help some people get to heaven.  I did a little bit of sports announcing when I was in college (an enjoyment I also got from dad), and I had people tell me that I sounded just like him.  And I held that to be a very high compliment, indeed.

I wish he had been a little more spiritually minded, but he and mom did take the family to church when we were growing up, and it stuck with me.  A lot of the memories of those early days are faded now, but I remember the camping trips, the football, basketball, and baseball games, I remember him playing catch with me.  I remember one time, in the sixth grade, I was in trouble in school and the teachers wanted to meet with one of my parents.  I was so hoping mom would come, because I didn't think dad would be too pleased--and pardon the understatement.  When I saw him walking up at the schoolyard, I was...concerned...as to what might happen later, because dad certainly believed in "spare the rod, hate the child."  He went in, talked to my teachers, and on the way home, as we discussed it, he was as kind and as gentle as I ever remember him being.  I think I cried more at that than I would have had he whipped me.  That was over 40 years ago, but I'll never forget it.

I have a lot more memories of him, of course, and I'll always try to put aside the bad and remember the good.  And there are many, many more of the good memories than the bad.  Dad, I just wish we could go to one more Bobcat or Ram football game with Bob Milburn, or make one more trip out to Miss Flo's ranch and scuffle with that old sidewinder, Shannon.  Those days are gone.  But not forgotten.  I'll miss you, dad, and I love you.