My dad was nothing short of incredible, so finding meaningful words to fill the time wasn’t tricky for those of us who spoke at his memorial service. The difficulty came in honing in on the most important highlights.
Enough people have commented or asked about what I shared so I thought I’d post it here. Nuances are lost as this was spoken, but this is the framework I erected through a lot of tears and prayer for the too-short five minutes I was allotted. I didn’t tidy it up for that day and I’m going to leave it just so for you, because death and grieving are a messy process, and some of that is precious. On that day, I skipped over a line here and there and I added a few things that will never be here. The beauty of the spoken and written word. I hope you are inspired by the legacy my dad left behind.
We’re here today to celebrate the life of a man who left his fingerprints on our lives.
Those of you who know me know my dad walked on water and stood ten feet tall, or taller.
We’ve spoken recently about dying and how generations pass the torch, but he promised me he was going to live long and healthy.
I didn’t expect my dad to be gone at the early age of 69.
He was my go-to, my rock, a voice of wisdom, usually the first person I’d call and share life with.
He cared so deeply.
Throughout my life he wanted to know the details of what made my life mine. But you know that too; you’re here because he cared. He cared for family, friends, clients and colleagues. You’re here because he made you feel sincerely important.
My dad has been the most significant living influence in my life. I often tell my husband how much I wish I could be like my dad.
There’s a legendary story of a man yelling inches from my dad’s innocent face in his office. My dad had every reason to retaliate with words, but my dad was a peacemaker and didn’t.
He was patient beyond measure and as a child, if he needed to raise his voice or get stern, you KNEW you had gone too far. His love was resilient, determined and steadfast.
He was generous and always put others first, even if it meant less for him. If he had one crumb old-fashioned donut and you wanted it, he would give it to you GLADLY. You’ve probably experienced this if even if you knew him only a short period of time.
There was never a dead-end with my dad. Those of us who were able to work with him were confident that should a transaction hit a rough patch, because they always do, he would be able to work it out. His favorite escrow officer told me about a buyer that wouldn’t close escrow until a raccoon on the property was taken care of. My dad researched raccoons and captured the critter, calling her the next morning with childlike zeal, “We can close! I caught the raccoon!” My dad was an overcomer.
Many of you can nod your head and agree, “Yes, that’s the John Walton I knew”. But what I want you to know is that my dad wasn’t just a “great” (I’d say legendary) man because he was “good”, he was good because he loved Christ.
When I admire the legacy my dad has left behind, I see the fingerprints of Jesus in his life. I see Christ’s unfailing love, the never ending always and forever love. My dad wasn’t a “preachy” man, but what we saw in how he treated people and responded to life’s highs and lows is nothing short of a practical demonstration of what he believed. When I think of his life, I see a resemblance to Jesus.
You see, Jesus cares deeply, intensely for you and me. Jesus wants to be our go-to person. And no matter how bad we think we mess things up, no matter the depth and width of a fractured relationship, Jesus is RIGHT THERE. My dad was always RIGHT THERE, waiting for me to finish a late-night descent off one of Yosemite’s granite walls, hopping on a plane because my child labor was disastrous, first on scene when I was in a car wreck.
My dad and I share many likes and dislikes one being that we both hate sad, melancholy endings to movies. Aside from talking our way through movies with questions and speculation, we’d always ask, “how did it end?” If it was sad, we’d warn each other to avoid the movie.
And God is like that, God hates sad endings. Had God merely left his only son Jesus in the grave, my dad and I would have avoided salvation at all cost. But God isn’t
like that, God wants the happiest ending for every story and he raised his son from the dead, to conquer death once and for all, so every one of us COULD have the happy ending salvation brings.
This seems like a really terrible ending, but I’ve had enough life experience to know that looks can be deceiving. This is heartbreaking here and now, and we probably won’t see WHY, but God promises the best. Because there are no dead-ends with God, I am certain that this isn’t a tragic ending, but a beautiful beginning.
For the past week, my life has been an upheaval, my heart is broken. I feel like I’m learning to breathe and walk again, but my dad has spent the last week basking in the light of God’s glory at his new address: heaven. The fingerprint he left on each of us will outlast his body and I pray they are a constant reminder of how intensely YOU are loved by our loving God and Savior.
My dad’s life consistently modeled Christ’s love. I can’t point to a time where he didn’t show love, grace and mercy to those around him.
You will die.
What will people say?
What is the legacy you are leaving behind?