By Lavern Nissley
Dave King, a friend and colleague from 30 years ago in Cincinnati, died at age 55 last week. The text notification from another friend hit me hard. "No, no, no!" I had just been thinking of calling him and getting together. But he had collapsed while working out and couldn't be revived.
Several of us who worked together with Dave in the 1980's at New Beginnings Fellowship, a small suburban church in Finneytown/Cincinnati, attended his funeral Saturday. What a surreal experience to see such a close friend laying in a casket! But there was unexpected inspiration in this funeral from Dave's two children, Matthew and Erin.
Many positive memories and funny stories about Dave were shared by various acquaintances and co-workers. He was fully compassionate and fully quirky. Lots of laughs.
But as his two adult children came to the podium together, everyone knew this was going to require some Kleenex. It was one of those "not a dry eye" experiences.
Matthew and Erin shared of a father who:
I talked with Matthew after the service. "That had to be a challenging thing to do, sharing like you and Erin did."
"Yes, it was hard," he said. "But, I needed to do it for myself. It was therapeutic."
As I chatted briefly with this "younger version" of my dear friend who had died, I realized how much a precious, loving legacy had been passed on to his children. I could feel the gentleness, warmth and compassion of Dave King living on in his son!
"Your dad lives on in you, Matthew," I said, patting him on his shoulder. "And that is truly inspiring to me to see how he prepared you throughout your life."
Wow! Do we as parents really have that kind of influence and opportunity? Yep!
And as I shook Matthew's hand before leaving, I was certain and confident that Dave had left his son what he needed in order to be a good, good father. Yes, Dave regrettably is gone physically. But his virtues and values shine through in his children.
Inspiration to all of us as parents: We ARE passing along a legacy to our children and beyond. We can decide right now, before our own funerals, how positive and vitalizing that legacy will be.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.