For those that know my dad, they will agree that he is a "friend to children" and he has been gifted with all the necessary personality traits: my dad is patient, kind, warm, gentle, silly...and the list goes on and on.
My dad always has room on his lap for a toddler looking to find a place to sit. His agenda is always secondary to the person he is helping, especially when it comes to his children and grandchildren. He always finds the time to stop what he's doing to help a little one with a project (or to make an arsenal of weaponry for little boys that visit him out in his barn).
He patiently allows granddaughters to comb his thick grey hair and "style" his beard...he patiently sits. I can share more than one story of a child losing an appetite because of a visit to PopPop's house during cocktail hour. Oddly enough, my kids have an uncanny love for salami, cheese, pretzels, sardines and martini olives.
I was reminded this weekend of one other name my dad has been given. For as long as I can remember, my dad has been known as
"The Red Hot Man."
Each Sunday, he prepares for church by dressing sharp and grabbing his Bible. However, his outfit would not be complete without a special treat. He takes the time to fill his pockets with red-hot candies. Most kids know better then to ask before worship, but as soon as the congregation is dismissed, you can stand back and watch the magic that takes place. One at a time the kids in church begin to surround my dad, with their hands held out flat toward the grey-bearded man.
They wait as the "red-hot man" patiently gives each child a handful of candies. Even the most timid and shy kid is not afraid of him...afterall he's giving away free candy...what's to fear.
And here's the part I love: it is brilliantly simple. It takes minimal effort, yet it's a wonderful example of his quiet ministry. In the midst of parents chatting and often ignoring kids during a church coffee-hour, here is a gentle and kind man that has spent years refining his ability to stop an "important" conversation to fill the hands of little kids with a few spicy treats.
Kids love my dad. Parents love my dad. I love my dad.
Quietly making noise,