Jim Bishop | A father’s love goes on ‘Forever and Ever’
My dad, J. Vernon Bishop of Doylestown, Pa., has been gone 10 years. It only seems like several weeks ago that he left us too quickly, life drained from him by a blood disease, at age 76.
I used to think that 76 sounded really ancient. Not anymore.
Although Dad is physically absent, his legacy of wit, wisdom and example he gave as a loving, high-spirited earthly father remain.
I’ve even had some conversations with him along the way – one-sided, maybe – while sitting on our back yard swing around twilight time. I reflect that somehow, some way, Dad is watching and smiling approvingly on his progeny, those charged with carrying the family torch now that he has finished the race.
Permanently etched in my mind is Dad’s storehouse of one-liners, sardonic comments on foibles of daily life and dedication to the business he started and managed successfully even while putting family first. On those too few occasions when I’m together with my brothers, we enjoy repeating some of dad’s favorite words and phrases and acting out some of the quirky characters and voices he was adept at impersonating. Those beyond our family circle might not comprehend the goings-on, but we do, and laugh aloud.
Again this year, in anticipation of Fathers Day, I’ll give thanks for the 54 years I was privileged to know and learn from Dad and play “O Mein Papa” by Eddie Fisher on my “Friday Night Jukebox” radio show on WEMC-FM and dedicate the song to him and to fathers everywhere.
Being a father is an awesome calling and responsibility. Granted, just about anyone can father a child, but what an awesome calling and responsibility it is to be a father. At 64, I’m still learning, even though both our daughters have long flown the nest, are married and have put Anna and me squarely in the grandparenting stage of life, something we thought old people did.
A lot of who I am today and how I act, as a parent and as an individual, can be attributed to my dad’s influence.
Among those things I learned at my father’s knee: to be honest and reliable in daily dealings and to give the other person the benefit of the doubt – until he or she proves unworthy of trust; to be on time and don’t make others wait; to devote oneself fully to an honest day’s work; to make church a priority; to know how to have fun; to be there for your kids; to be an encourager; to say “please,” “thank you” and “I love you” often; to know when to say “no” and don’t jump too quickly on the bandwagon; to not wait for a funeral to give someone flowers; to set goals and persevere to meet them.
Dad’s mantra – If you believe in yourself and utilize fully your God-given abilities, there’s few things you can’t achieve, even if it requires marching to the beat of a different drummer.
Two things Dad said repeatedly – “The best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother” – which he did with a passion – and “Remember who you are,” which I didn’t want to hear from him at the time in bounding out the door for a hot date or a Saturday evening rendezvous with my buddies.
I recall at the time Dad left us how thankful I was to be able to look back without regret on our relationship. Would that every person reading this takes a moment to acknowledge anew that fatherhood is a sacred trust and, even if your relationship with your own father needs some mending, that you honor him in some special way this weekend.
Most importantly, if you hold the sacred trust of fatherhood, make a renewed commitment to be the kind of father who reflects the boundless love of our heavenly Father (Parent).
As Randy Travis put it, “It’s a love without end, amen.”
– Column by Jim Bishop