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Remembering Dad

I wrote this a few years ago as a tribute for my father. I thought it appropriate to throw it up here considering this special day. Hope you enjoy it.

Remembering Dad

Dear Dad,

You left us twelve years ago today. It some ways it seems like yesterday. I remember standing around your hospital bed at the last moment of your life. I remember Laura telling you it was okay for you to stop fighting and to “go be with Papa”. That does seem like yesterday – so vivid in my mind. I remember asking God to give me peace and strength for my mom and sister. He did. And He eventually healed my hurting heart. Now, even though I still miss you, I have wonderful memories that help fill the void that was left when you were taken away.

One of the most vivid memories I have of you occurred when I was just a young child. I couldn’t have been more than three or four years old. You had just learned of your mother’s death. I remember you just wailing in grief. I had never seen you cry like that-before or after. I guess I was too young to really understand. I don’t remember feeling grief. Just alarm. What a tender heart you had. People might not have realized it from just looking at you that you were a very sentimental, dare I say, mushy person. You got teary-eyed from commercials and when talking about your country or your kids. Although you never served over-seas you were a patriot of the first order. You taught me to respect the flag and the brave people who serve in the armed forces, sacrificing their lives for this great country and the freedoms that we often take for granted.

You took care of your family the best way you knew how. You were determined to teach your kids to not make the mistakes that you made. You always wanted a better life for us than you had. You taught me much. Because of you, I know how to love my children. You modeled what unconditional love looks like. And you told me you loved me. All the time! Only later did I realize that many kids do not hear that from their fathers. I have continued that legacy. If my boys know nothing else, they know that Dad loves them. I will continue to verbally shower them with love for as long as I am breathing.

So many memories come to mind. I miss the Sunday afternoon phone calls that we had. Our mutual love for football always gave us a topic for discussion on game day. I know you enjoyed those moments. I recall your “Southern Living” perfectly-balanced Thanksgiving dinner plates. We would be half finished with our meal before you even started eating – meticulously plating your food in a manner that would make any southern chef or food editor proud. Then you would complain that we all were eating too fast. It makes me chuckle to think about it. I remember how you loved to cook and how the way you made it was the “right way”. You put the same kind love and devotion into your food that you did with your kids. And your culinary philosophy? “Anything is better with a Jalapeno in it”.

You did so many things right. But some of the greatest things I learned, I picked up from your mistakes. You lived life on your terms. You were a fun loving guy who always knew how to let loose and enjoy himself. And some of my strongest convictions stemmed from your greatest weaknesses. Because of you, Dad, I don’t drink or gamble. And while I am not necessarily glad I learned life lessons in that way, I am grateful that I could learn from watching the effects of life choices that you made. I do not sit in judgement. These were hard lessons to learn (sometimes for both of us) and I am grateful, as I am sure that you are, that I did not have to learn them directly. I thank you for that.

You demonstrated to me that love of and for my family is the most important thing. I remember bringing Rhonda home on our first trip to Sweetwater. It was at Homecoming that year. Before the game, you took a picture of her. You kept that picture with your stuff in your small filing cabinet, always close. Several years later, you wore a tux at our wedding, at her request, even though that was not your way. You really took her into your heart and loved her like your own. You were so proud when Trey was born. I kept my childhood promise – to name him after you, the father that I adored. We were both relieved that the Dorsey name would carry on. You would be so proud of the man that he is becoming. And Noah is following in his footsteps. I hope I can be to them what you were to me. My helper. My friend. My confidant. My compass. My advisor. My dad.

Love you always,

Donny

October 8, 2006

Donny, 41

Categories: Family

A Proud Poppa Remembers

May 30, 2009 1 comment

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I remember, when Trey was born, my father telling me to make every moment count because time would fly by. And before I knew it we would be sending him off. I said, “Okay, dad” and dimissed it as sentimentalism. He was a very sentimental man, my dad. Once again, though, I find that he was right. (And as I get older I find that he was right about a great many things.)

As I sat there on Thursday night and the band started playing “Pomp and Circumstance”, I reflected on the past 18 years of Trey’s young life. I remembered the struggles that he went through and the victories that we witnessed. I remembered counseling him through the whole bullying ordeal and trying to help him learn to manage his anger about it. I remembered the incredible time we had on his purity weekend. I am amazed and thankful for the bond that we developed that weekend and transparency that it provided for intimate conversations that would occur later. I remembered the times we spent at Red River at church camp. Spending time with him was/is one of the joys of my life. I remembered the political conversations that we have had and his passion for conservatism that the government is apparently unwilling to demonstrate. I watched him struggle to try to find where he fits in this world – never a part of the “in group” but always wanting to be. I watched him celebrate as he was chosen as one of the four student techs for the Forney ISD during his senior year. He took pride in his work and was genuinely saddened when that job came to an end.

Now he approached wearing the cap and gown and the cords. I felt so much pride and a little sadness too. The truth is, I think I am still feeling a little sad. My dad was right. It went by so fast. Granted, he is going to be at home for just a little longer as he starts college. But it seems that everything has changed now. In some ways that is for the better. In him, I have a great friend and companion. We have so many laughs together. I see myself in him – sometimes that is not necessarily a good thing. But despite my foibles, he has turned out splendidly. But don’t take my word for it. I can’t count the number of people that have complimented his work ethic, compassion, and tender-hearted attitude. Rhonda and I have been truly blessed.

They say that in the last throes of life your life will pass before your eyes. I guess that, in a way, is what happened to me on Thursday night. Trey’s childhood ceremoniously ended and his life passed before my eyes. What a great trip it has been! And I guess the circle of life will continue. Funny me commenting on my dad being sentimental. That’s like the pot calling the kettle… well you know.

Categories: Family

Impatient and Mind-Boggled

February 22, 2009 1 comment

“It should only take about 30 minutes… tops,” Donny told Trey as they drove to the DMV in Terrell. It was, after all, in Terrell. Not exactly a hotbed of activity. And it was 2:00. Before the school’s let out their hoards of newly minted drivers hoping to take their driving tests. “Only 30 minutes and then we can go by Walmart and still get home before Noah does.” Famous last words.

I do not really understand why the government, any government, has to be so blasted inefficient. As we stood there for 1 1/2 hours watching the 4 ladies doing the work of 1 1/2 ladies I could not help to think what our country will be like when the government takes control of the banking system and health insurance. What is this country thinking? Those ladies (who I am sure all very nice and proper ladies) were moving in slow motion. One would have an issue with some form and they all would stop what they were doing and go over to “help” her. They would leave occasionally to go to the other room to “make copies” and not return for 15 minutes. Were they hand writing those copies? As the line grew longer and the people that had been there earlier to take driving tests or had other problems kept jumping back in line in front of us my patience grew very thin. I was waiting until we got up to the counter to be told that Trey didn’t have the necessary forms. But that would be only after the ladies disappeared – I guess taking their long awaited break. And I guess they deserved that break because they had worked so hard. Yeah, right!

We finally reached the counter and Trey did indeed have everything he needed so now he is a full-fledged adult driver. Oh… we did not make it home before Noah did even skipping the trip to Walmart. Thank goodness for cell phones and the call to the school to alert him that he would be locked out of the house until we arrived.

Just another example of our fine government bureaucracy at work. It boggles the mind.

Categories: Current Affairs, Family

Watercolor Ponies

August 27, 2008 1 comment

Trey started his senior year today. I am not sitting here with tears or anything – just reflecting on the last twelve years and how quickly time flies. It is so hard to believe that he is going to graduate this year. Naturally, we are not the first parents to consider this. It is all in the cycle of life. But as many of you know, theory is one thing but experience is the thing. I have prayed for him for so many years and soon must let him go and have faith that what he has learned from us will guide him. That takes faith on both of our parts. He has turned out to be a great young man. He is thoughtful and sensitive – always standing up for the other guy. He has a great sense of justice. My strange humor has rubbed off on him. We both just sit and laugh about things. He has a strange quirkiness. He is a great guy.

The song Watercolor Ponies talks about those sometimes indistinguishable works of art on your refrigerator. It sums my feelings, I guess.

Baby, what will we do when it comes back to me and you?
They look a little less like little boys every day.
The pleasures of watching the children growing
is mixed with the bitter cup of knowing
the watercolor ponies will one day ride away.

This is going to be a great year. Graduation is on May 28, 2009. Just 274 days away.

Categories: Family

Never Leave Your Partner Behind

August 18, 2008 Leave a comment

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Rhonda and I were fortunate to see an early preview of Fireproof at church a few weeks ago. It is a great film. We laughed. We cried. We really related to the characters. I think most married couples will see themselves somewhere in the movie.

At its basics, the movie is about relationships. The relationship between and man and his wife, his parents, and his co-workers, and ultimately, his relationship with Christ. Kirk Cameron’s character seems at once strong and very driven but also distracted by the trappings of life. He has no center; there is no foundation to keep him steady. It is made pretty evident that a marriage will not reach its full potential without Jesus as the third partner. The relationship with his Dad was especially touching to me. During those scenes I found myself wanting an experience like that. I loved my Dad very much but never achieved this kind of intimacy with him. I feel like I missed out on something very special.

This film is from the creators of Facing The Giants. It is very affirming and can strengthen marriages. I hope you can make time to see it.

Categories: Family, Film, Religion

A Still, Small Voice

July 16, 2008 1 comment

The still, small voice was whispering,“Grace” in my soul. Every fiber of my being was screaming for retribution or, at least, some kind of fairness. But there was that voice. “Grace… grace… they are only teenagers.” So I took a deep breath, put on my iPod and started cleaning.

Five hours earlier…

Two of the six guys I was responsible for at Trey’s youth camp decided to cook a spaghetti dinner one night. I thought that was a good idea and much cheaper than eating out in Red River, NM at night. And we would all be there together for a meal which provided another opportunity to bond. They wouldn’t let me help at all; instead, one would call his mother multiple times to seek advice. I guess they didn’t know or care (well, they did know… I told them a few times) that I am a good cook. I do most all of the cooking for my family during the week. But my experience was not asked for. They had purchased a lot of food. I was sure there would be left-overs. I did check on them several times just in case they needed something but they seemed to know what they were doing. So we were going to have spaghetti.

Trey and I were on the deck upstairs with four other guys playing a rousing and loud game of Rat, a variation of the dice game Farkle. Shouts of excitement and disgust would come spewing off the deck causing passers-by to look up and ask what we were doing. It was that clamor that make it hard to believe that the guys downstairs “didn’t know I was there.” So all of the spaghetti was eaten by those guys with the help of the guys next door. There was none left.

Over the previous few days I had tried to connect with these guys and really thought that I was making some good progress. “Spaghetti-gate” illustrated that I was wrong about that, at least to some degree. At first, I was disappointed until one of the fellows brought up the half-empty plate of his second or third helping (I am not sure which.) Trey had gone down and asked if there were anything left. I told the guy that I really wasn’t that angry but for him to tell everyone that I was ticked off. I was going to milk it for awhile. Then I went into the kitchen. Oh my Emeril! What a mess! There was spaghetti everywhere, cooked and uncooked. There was spaghetti sauce spilled on the counter, floor, and the sides of the crock pot they had used to keep it warm. (That was actually my suggestion.) Pots and pans were covering the counters – pans that had been used to cook hamburger meat, pots that had held spaghetti, pots that weren’t even used (I think). It was overwhelming. That is when I kind of lost it. The bus was going to pick us up in 35 minutes to take us to the conference center that was about a mile away. I told them, in no uncertain terms, that it all must be cleaned up before they get on that bus. Upon that instruction, Trey and I left to find something quick to eat so we would not be late to the evening session.

I was certain that when I walked back into the kitchen that it would be clean. So I was crestfallen upon finding that much of it was still untouched. They had put the plates in the dishwasher, apparently without rinsing them, which clogged up the dishwasher and later caused a leak all over the kitchen floor. All of the pots and pans and mess were still there. I started to get warm.

“Grace. Grace”

Then I noticed the crock pot had been left on and had a black baked-on layer of spaghetti sauce in the interior. I was getting really mad now. “I can’t believe these guys didn’t share their meal with me and then left all of this for someone else to clean”, I thought.

“Grace. Grace”

In all, it took about an hour to clean that mess. I got finished just before they returned from the late night activities. In my room, I listened to see if anyone had noticed. It seemed they didn’t. And the next day, no one said thanks or even acknowledged that any of it had happened. Later, one of the guys, who had been sick and taken to the hospital thanked me for looking after him and “everything I did.” I appreciate that but it was given in a more general way. I will, however, take what I can get in that respect.

The next day, before we left Red River, I was checking the kitchen one last time. I found another mess inside the microwave. Someone had re-heated their spaghetti and sauce had splattered all over the inside of it. “I wish I had seen this yesterday.”

“Grace. Grace”

We were often told by our leader that this week was not about us (the adult sponsors). In light of that, I feel kind of guilty for even writing about this. I had been praying for several weeks that God would use me somehow to influence “my guys”. And although camp was really great in every other way, I came home wondering if the Lord had used me in any way. Later, I told Rhonda that I am not sure that I got anything from camp this year. But she reminded me about that voice. That still small voice quietly urging me to extend grace to those six 10th grade boys. I am not sure why but I guess I did bring home a lesson about grace. Maybe God was also showing me that it really wasn’t all about me. Should I have cleaned up that mess or made them do it? I may never know if any of this had an impact on any of them. But upon reflection, it did have an impact on me.

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11

Categories: Family, Religion

Are You Smarter Than A 3rd Grader?

At first glance, the obvious answer to that question, it seems, is yes. I am smarter than a 3rd grader. But after spending a week with 20 3rd graders at church camp I am amazed at what I learned from them. Noah and I spent five days at Camp GAP with about 1200 other kids and adults last week. And what a week it was! Our Minister to Children considers this week the highlight of the year. I now know why he thinks of Camp GAP that way. It was a great week.2008_shield.jpg

Noah was able to climb a rock wall, slide down a 4 story zip line, and climb a 55-foot alpine tower. The kids learned about God’s Amazing Power (GAP) and were blessed by Keith Coast as he preached the Word with his unique blend of the Gospel and illusion. And, of course, he got inside a large balloon. That was a crowd favorite.

It never ceases to amaze me how God can bless me so much through the lives of kids. Whether it is church camp, Upwards Sports, or teaching a Sunday School class, I am always inspired by the outlook and perspective these kids have. I guess it is all a part of serving but I think I am often blessed more than the kids that I am with. That is why Camp GAP is one of the highlights of the year. And that is why I am planning to go back next year.

Now from 3rd graders on to the youth. I will be going to camp with Trey next week. It is in Red River, NM again this year. We will spend a frenetic week up in the mountains. It was a lot of fun last year. So next week, the question is what can I learn from a group of teenagers that think that have all of the answers. I don’t know. These guys inspire me all the time. Sometime while we are there, we are planning to go white-water rafting down the Rio Grande. I am sure that I will learn something in that experience. I did not do it last year but want to now after hearing Trey rave about it. I guess I will have some stories to tell when we get back. Now what did I do with my sunscreen?

Categories: Family, Religion