On the last day of this past October, about an hour and a half before it turned into November, my father had a few bites of ice cream, took a last look around, and said goodbye to this world. I got the call a few minutes later. He was gone.
Robert Eudean Spencer, "Bobby," and later "Bob" to his friends (my mother affectionately called him "Bobert") had been here awhile. Ninety years altogether, plus six months. He had seen a lot in all those years and been through a lot more.
At seventeen months, polio found him—the only person in Guilford County to contract the disease in 1931. The illness left his young body twisted and wracked, muscles atrophied, and little Bobby crippled for life. If that weren't enough, at seven years of age, he contracted pneumonia, which came within a whisper of taking his life.
My Dad was, to put it simply, the kindest, gentlest soul I've ever encountered. He was universally loved by all who knew him, and he had a heart for others that knew no bounds.
In all my years, I only heard my father raise his voice once. And no, amazingly, it wasn't at me, although goodness knows I gave him enough reasons to do so. With me, when I had yet again put "Be Stupid" first on my list of things to do on a particular day, Dad would simply look at me, shake his head, and say sadly, “What were you thinking?” Every time, his question cut me to my soul.
Dad loved Christmas. He loved giving. Some of my earliest memories are of him with his camera on Christmas morning, snapping pictures as my brother and I delighted at what Santa had left for us under the tree. And Dad lavished Christmas on my mother, often reducing her to tears with his knack for finding the perfect gift.
Dad will be with Mom in heaven this Christmas, and that's okay. I'll miss him, but to see all the Christmas spirit the season brings is to see him. I'm sure if I turn my head fast enough, I'll see him in the corner by the Christmas tree with his camera, waiting with that quiet smile of his to take another holiday picture.
In the same way, the Christmas we celebrate is just a picture of the incredible love God has for us. He gave us a gift in our Lord Jesus that is the most wonderful Christmas present we could imagine. A child, in swaddling clothes, in a manger, given to bring us back to Him.
Merry Christmas, Dad. I know you're having the best one yet.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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