Lord, Thank You that Dad is celebrating his 93rd birthday in heaven. You know that he pranked fellow pastors with fake calls (“Reveren’, me and my wife is havin’ problems …”) and sometimes answered his phone with “Joe’s Bar.” With a fishing rod, he once cast a jelly doughnut amid his church’s weight-watching group. But OMG, Dad always was and now forever is crazy for You.
Many pay tributes to caring but unexciting dads who worked hard, fixed things, and helped keep them out of trouble — most of the time.
My father did the basic dad drill, too. But boring?
A pastor, he refused to wear neckties. He led his congregation in “Joy to the World” … every Easter. Even my siblings and I listened intently to Dad’s sermons — because we often comprised the subject matter.
As a missionary, Dad approached challenges in ways that wouldn’t make Sunday school storybooks. Take, for example, the Mexican Chicken Wars.
Fifty years ago, our home in Linares, Mexico, featured an outhouse and nightly rat races. Though poor, my folks shared with neighbors living in shacks. Ready to open his thin wallet, Dad still drew the line at “Thou shalt not steal.”
Gilberto, the mission compound caretaker, said thieves targeted our chicken coop, an important income source for the mission. Determined to protect his feathered flock, Dad kept his ax beside his bed at night.
Those who didn’t know the Ten Commandments would learn them fast.
Soon, Dad awoke to the chickens’ squawking, grabbed his ax and headed for the henhouse. Stooping low, he spotted unknown blue-jeaned legs walking through the orange groves. He let loose his war cry, swinging the ax above his head.
The thief saw Dad — a tall, shirtless phantom with burning eyes who wielded a shining blade. The would-be robber dropped shrieking chickens and scaled the mission compound wall like a terrified spider.
Dad returned the chickens — vastly relieved the ax wasn’t meant for them — to their nests.
This crook, however, screamed, “Aaron! It’s me, Aaron!”
Gilberto had checked on the chickens’ safety, too. They were fine, but Gilberto nearly lost his head to Dad’s ax.
Throughout his pastoral career, Dad confronted numerous dangerous situations. He housed ex-gang members and ex-prisoners and provided protection for domestic violence victims whose husbands/boyfriends vowed vengeance.
That incident nearly drove his guardian angel to drinking. Still, Dad survived to finally retire at 77. He now lives in the Louisiana piney woods where he was born and raised. Occasionally the angel chews his nails when Dad, now 90, wields his ax in a forest full of rattlesnakes.
But the angel’s not bored.
Sigh. Neither am I.
Your extraordinary ordinary: What’s your favorite dad story?