My father died Sunday night at 11:36 p.m.
He had been ill for several difficult weeks. He was 87-years-old.
Morris Franklin James was a decent man in every respect. And, as a result, he never lost my respect as his son.
Dad and mother celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary back in November. When I told my mom that we had lost dad, her first, tear-filled words were very simple: "Ohhhh! I've lost my best friend."
Over the past several months my folks have been turning their business affairs over to me. I've been learning a lot about their life together that I didn't know before.
Even today, as we made preparations for dad's funeral, I found two very interesting documents.
One was a letter to his uncle about a business deal gone bad in more ways than one. From the letter it was obvious that my father felt that his uncle was not making honest decisions. In fact, my dad feared that my uncle was involved in illegal activity with some of their struggling company's limited assets and inventory. He called the older man to task over it and resigned his position.
The other document contained his notes from a speech that he delivered to the Richardson Rotary Club on January 7, 1957. At that time dad served as City Secretary for the booming City of Richardson. The purpose of his speech was to report on the rapid, but well-planned growth of the city. In reading over the speech I could hear laughter ripple across the crowd as he joked about the early real estate developers and their important role in the growth of his city. I may decide to post this document at a later time. I was amazed at the way he regarded and emphasized the importance of a commitment to the good of the entire community, a theme I return to often on these pages.
The two documents have at least one thing in common: I never knew about them or about the events they describe.
My dad majored on quiet humility, especially when it came to his own accomplishments and struggles.
I cried Sunday night. I know I will cry again and often. No man could be more fortunate than I have been throughout my life, thanks in large measure to the role of my dad in my life. I know that even though his work is finished, he will never really leave my side. His influence, his manner, his values, his love--these parts of my dad's life will never be gone from my own journey.
On Sunday afternoon, during our last visit before he slipped off into a deep sleep, I asked him how he was doing.
His response was typical. "I'm doing wonderful."
You're right, dad. You did wonderful for a very long time.
[Funeral services for Morris James are set for 10:00 a.m., Thursday, December 20, 2007 in the Memorial Chapel at Restland Funeral Home. A gathering of family and friends will take place the night before from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.]