I would like to tell you a story today about the strongest gentle man I ever knew.
I met him when I was quite young and he, to my childish eyes was very old. (I am now almost 15 years older than he was at that time!) He was always safe. I knew that even when he was angry or disappointed with me, I had no worry about his displeasure showing in an abusive way. When I was young I thought he was perfect, but as I aged, I found that he had faults just like everyone else.
He grew up in a time and a family where men did not readily show emotions, although as he aged he learned to let them out a bit. He expected great things from me, sometimes it seemed more than I was able to give, but I learned that was his way of showing love for me. He showed his love most readily by sacrifice and service. When his family needed to move to a safer locale, he left his tenured job that he enjoyed to give them a chance at a new life. He spent many years surrounded by kids in scouts and church groups, helping to teach and lead them, rather than take his summers to pursue his own interests. Nearly every Sunday and many nights he could be found at the church, leading and teaching and helping.
His faith was important to him. While he did not make a big show of it, his life was run the way he believed God would have it. As I grew older he and I had many disagreements about God and faith. He never tried to force me to believe his way, but neither did he back away from his beliefs, even when as a teenager I said some ugly, hateful things. As a young married adult, I moved my little family into his home, and he welcomed them with open arms. Even when I emotionally abandoned them he loved them and me. He never berated me for my poor choices, but simply offered help and support.
It was only after I had matured a little that I began to see him as he really was, good and bad, and to truly love and respect him.
He went home to be with his God yesterday and I know that there will always be a hole in my heart for my Daddy, the strongest gentlest man I ever knew.
Charles Walter Reader
April 16, 1926 – December 22, 2014