Sunday, June 15, 2014

Diem Patris

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; 
pay attention and gain understanding.
 I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.
 For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother.
 Then he taught me, and he said to me, 
"Take hold of my words with all your heart;
    keep my commands, and you will live. 
Get wisdom, get understanding; 
do not forget my words or turn away from them. 
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; 
love her, and she will watch over you."
-Proverbs, 4: 1-6

My Dad was Superman.

Growing up a comic book lover, I was deeply involved with a whole bunch of super-heroes-- Spiderman, Batman, the Mighty Thor, the Flash, etc.-- and I loved them all.  None of them was Superman, though.  Superman had it all; he was the unbeatable force for goodness... he was the greatest and best of them all.

That was my Dad, Robert Dean Grinstead: the greatest and best.  And unbeatable.

As I grew up, I realized that I wasn't the only one who felt this way about my Dad.  There was definitely something about him that people recognized as different… as special.  I've been working my whole life to understand exactly what it was.  My Dad was a great man who lived a powerful life.  There was something about him that was quite different from other people.  It wasn't just because he was my Dad-- other people felt it and saw it, too.  What was the word that described him?  He wasn't rich or physically striking and he wasn't Ivy-League educated or famous.  There was an aura surrounding him that spoke volumes to the world around him.  I've spent a long time trying to put my finger on exactly what that aura was saying and how it was saying it.

What I've come up with is that he was powerful.  I don't mean in a physical sense-- although he was a strong-backed working man for a good deal of his life.  No, the power was much more than physical-- it was the very composition of the aura… it was his very life that was powerful.  I will be writing a lot more on the subject of a powerful life in the future. Enough for now to say that my Dad was tough, compassionate, loving, hard-working, and a whole bunch more adjectives.  He appreciated his life and he loved his God and his family.  

He was taken too soon-- a victim of major complications of a deathly-stubborn staph infection (MRSA) that made his final years very painful and very, very difficult for him and for my dear mother.  It was in those last five years, though, that we saw his true strength and greatness.  A physically strong man was brought down by infirmity and could no longer do most of the things he had always taken for granted.  This is not only devastating to a person physically, it also often destroys the will and disturbs the sanity.  

Not so with my Dad.  He took it with grace and a strength that set a lifelong example for me and many others.  He was dealt a very bad (and unfair) hand and instead of folding, he improvised, adapted, and overcame.  He taught himself new skills (not the least of which was computer literacy) and he smiled through debilitating and humiliating circumstances.  As in the verse from Proverbs above, wisdom and understanding did not abandon him... and they did serve him well.  He never stopped seeking and learning and working to understand.  What an example.

I could go on (and will someday), but I'll suffice it to say that there is a reason I was compelled to have this image permanently attached over my heart in the form of a tattoo (by my awesome niece, Katie).

Because I had such a great father, I have tried always to follow his example-- including the example of having and raising children.  So, I think it more than fitting to spend a minute or two bragging on four very special heroes of mine.

#1 - Jessica Lynette.  My eldest and fellow amateur Catholic scholar.  She just graduated magna cum laude from California State University with two Bachelor's degrees (English and Fine Arts).  She is one of the hardest working and most goal-oriented people I have ever known.  She is capable of multi-tasking to a degree seldom seen in mere mortals.  She is currently finishing an internship at Disneyland and will then begin the task of conquering the world of animation.  If she has limits, I've not yet seem them.  She will yet set this world ablaze.  She is married to Adam-- an ultra helpful and friendly man who is also an amazing musician and artist-- and they maintain a menagerie of four-footed feline family members, including the esteemed and dapper WALL-E.

#2 - Arthur William.  First and only son of mine.  He is a fellow Marine who decided to join the Band of Brothers in the most dangerous days of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars... because he has deep, good old-fashioned courage of the uniquely American type.  Once he finished serving his country (including a deployment to the worst part of the Iraqi front), he decided he should be a doctor.  He quickly set about working his amazing brain to the bone and, in less than two years, finished his pre-med studies and obtained his Bachelor's degree from Colorado State University and has now been accepted to medical school.  He is married to the lovely and talented Alycia (herself a gift from God) and they are expecting The Grandchild this coming December to join them and the awesome Maddy (sweetest dog ever).

#3 - Rachel Marie.  The middle child.  This is one of the smartest people on the planet, as far as I'm concerned.  She is finishing her science/biology degree this year at University of Nevada Reno.  Last year, Rachel shocked the world by announcing that she was going to Africa to "help people, learn things, and see stuff" with a program for students.  Anyone who knows her knows that her kryptonite has always been acute homesickness (even sometimes on a day trip somewhere).  She rose above and made it happen-- such a grand adventure and such an inspiring accomplishment!  She is also a world-class photographer who sees and captures things in a way that no one else does.  She is engaged to Taylor-- a future metallurgical engineer and all-around good-egg (and de facto Hobbit).

#4 - Anna Danielle.  The baby who is no longer a baby.  She is a bonafide Pokemon master with the most magnetic and infectious personality you can imagine.  A natural and trained performer, she is capable of bringing down the house... and has done so in theatrical performances.  After her first semester as a freshman at University of Nevada, Reno, she joined Jessica in the Disney college internship program, and has made that place her own.  She has a fierce intellect and wonderful people-skills that are quite unusual for a person of her age.  I sometimes think of her as something like the Pied Piper, because people will follow her anywhere!  Expect great things, here, people.  She is currently dating Marc, a very smart and decent fellow.

I could go on and on and on enumerating all of the talents of these amazing people.  As wonderful as all of that is, though, the best thing about my kids is not what they are... it is who they are. Something that all of my off-spring share is that they love people and they love and seek Truth.  They are all good Catholics and honestly good and upright human beings who make me and their beautiful mother, Teri, prouder than we could say.

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." -3 John, 1: 4

I am blessed beyond measure to have such a family as I do; and so, finally, we must take time today to honor our Heavenly Father, without Whom nothing would exist.  Our goal as earthly fathers is to emulate Him as best we can-- by which we will Honor Him and keep His commands.

In Matthew's gospel (6: 9-13), Jesus told us how we are to pray to God Almighty.  So, together, then, in the words our Savior gave us:

Our Father, Who art in heaven, 
Hallowed be Thy Name. 
Thy Kingdom come. 
Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our trespasses, 
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. 

Happy Father's Day- and God bless!



Blogger Jessica Wersky said...

I love reading this!

1/5/15 22:25  

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