Today’s service is a celebration of my Dad’s life, a life well lived.
It was no accident that my Dad was born in Dallas, Texas on February 27th, 1930 and lived in Mesquite until May 16, 2014. It was part of God’s divine plan since before the creation of the world. In Acts 17:24-27 it says, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth, He from one man made every nation of men; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”
Then in the 139th Psalm, verse 16 we find these words, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before there was yet one of them.”
In my Dad’s case, this was 30,759 days. And 24,279 of those days were spent married to my Mother, over 65 years. My Dad used those days well. We are all gathered together here today because he touched us in some way.
Today, we celebrate my Dad’s life and his celebration in heaven. For my sister Karen and me, our Dad was always our hero! Big and strong, but quiet and gentle. Safe. Reliable. Consistent. Dependable. Responsible. Not necessarily the fastest, but the one who would be there all the way to the end, when it counted.
Karen and I, and our spouses David and Kay, are so blessed to have had Kermet Seabourn for our Father and Father-in-Law.
One thing I learned from my Dad was straightforward responsibility. You keep your word. You say what you mean and you do what you say. Be responsible for your actions.
When I was about 10 years old, my cousin Steve Holcomb and I were plinking with our pellet rifles. Somehow, I’m not sure how it started; we began shooting at neighbor Jess Parker’s chickens. I was the better shot, and I nailed a hen in the head. It was all fun and games until that hen fell over. Steve returned to his home in east Dallas. Several hours later my Dad somehow learned about it and I was sent down to settle accounts with Mr. Parker. I remember it to this day. A man is responsible for his actions. My Dad taught me that. Even when it was embarrassing to him, you make things right, even when you’ve done something silly.
During my time in the Boy Scouts, my Dad helped lead Troop 108. He served as Scoutmaster for several years. During this time, a number of boys, including myself, reached the rank of Eagle Scout. Troop 108 produced the largest number of Eagle Scouts in Circle 10 Council during this time. My Dad and the other leaders created an environment that instilled a desire to succeed, that developed young boys into Eagles. My Dad created a wooden board with the name of every Scout under each rank. At each Court of Honor, Scouts would move their name to their new rank. The Eagle rank grew longer and longer. Today, this is called gamification and this board is called a leader board. My Dad didn’t know about these incentives, but he knew how to inspire young men to excel and to strive to reach for goals and to endure difficult camping environments and to push themselves on long hikes and to reach for high ranks and he succeeded exceedingly well. Many from Troop 108 are grateful.
During one of our Boy Scout activities, we were hiking in the Kiamichi Mountains in Oklahoma. I was 13 or so at the time. My backpack was filled with my share of the camping gear for our troop. It seemed to grow heavier as the miles dragged on and I was lagging behind. My dad dropped back to hike alongside me. He put his hand under my pack and lifted the weight a little. Notice what he did not do. He did not take my pack away. It was still mine to carry. Carrying my share of the load was still my responsibility. But my dad lightened the weight for a while. He helped with the load but left the responsibility squarely on my shoulders. My Dad knew how to grow Boy Scouts into men.
And there are many snippets of memories. Here are a few of them.
Whistling. He was always whistling. When he was outside working, you could locate him by listening for the whistle.
The smell of sawdust. He loved working with wood. He passed that love to me. He loved building things. He loved working with other men to create places for people to enjoy, whether a room or a church building or a set of cabinets.
Yes’s and No’s always MUST have a sir or ma’am attached. A “yes” without a “sir” would get a questioning look accompanied by silence. And a “yeah” was a death wish to whatever you might hope to ask him for.
Older people MUST be greeted by Mr. or Mrs. Never call an older person by their firstname. Never. Ever. You would have a discussion with Dad if you used an older person’s firstname.
“It’s not fair” never worked in the Kermet Seabourn household. Karen and I learned to obey rules that other families didn’t have even when we felt it was so unfair. Now, neither of us would trade that upbringing for anything in the world. We learned responsibility and dependability.
I want to let you in on a little secret, now that our Dad is gone. Daddy had the ability to play like he was mad sometimes when he was just trying to get to you. And he was very good at it. Karen and I would have our friends ask us, “Is he really mad or not?” Sometimes even we couldn’t tell. He had a couple of tells that we would watch for. A little twinkle in his eyes and the corners of his mouth would twitch a little when he was pulling our leg. And he was good! But then there were the times I would search his face for the give-away signs, hoping and hoping, but there would be nothing there. And then Karen or I would know, “Uh-oh. I’m in for it this time.” Fortunately, it was mostly Karen that got into trouble!
Apart from our Dad, Karen and I were very blessed to grow up with a rich set of family relationships. Until we were about 10 years old, Karen and I had 9 grandparents and great-grandparents living within 10 miles of our home. We saw them regularly. We had many aunts and uncles and great-aunts and great-uncles. And two of our great-aunts are here in this service today: my Mom’s Aunt Frankie and Aunt Bess!
Our Dad set the bar high. Karen learned what to look for in a future husband by watching her Dad. I learned how to love my wife by watching my Dad. With a 65 year success record, Karen and David and Kay and I are still in junior high school in knowing how marriage works. Watching our Mother and our Dad these last several years has been watching people who have an advanced degree in marriage and in following Jesus. Sitting in a hospital room or in the group home and watching our Mother and Father relate to each other was amazing.
It was amazing to watch the testimony these two had as medical personnel and caregivers interacted with them. I often wondered why the God of the universe would allow my Dad to go through the Alzheimer’s experience. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that one of them is the testimony he and Mother had in the last 8 years.
Wherever their medical journey took them, they won the hearts of physical therapists, medical technicians, rehab specialists, and nurses. They were winsome. Uncomplaining. Positive. Quietly and graciously content. Medical professionals went overboard in helping them. They wanted to check up on my Dad, to provide assistance to him. They found reasons to be around them.
You see, when you spend your life serving others, growing close to Jesus, becoming more like him, you become a magnet. As we grow in life, we either become more bitter or more better. More sour or more sweeter.
So today, we are feeling the pain of separation. We were not designed by God to experience death. We were designed to live forever in a garden called Eden. What we are feeling today is the echo of the separation resulting from choices our forefathers made long ago and the sin that continues to indwell these bodies today. It is a reminder that we are not home yet. We are not living where we were designed to live. But Daddy is. He will never again feel what we are feeling today. And one day, we will never feel it again either, if we make a choice to accept God’s forgiveness as my Dad did long ago.
In Matthew 7, Jesus says:
So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit… Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
Jesus says that you know healthy trees by the fruit they bear. Even though in his later years my Dad’s body was decaying and his mind was imprisoned by Alzheimer’s disease, his life bore tremendous fruit.
Kermet Seabourn’s life was a life well lived.