My father-in-law died a couple of years ago. I miss him. Forty-five years ago I started dating his daughter. Three years later we married. From the beginning he treated me as his own, and that never changed.
Diminutive in physical stature, he was nevertheless a giant of a man, a WWII veteran who served in the US Navy on a destroyer. He never talked much about the war, but when he did, he almost always cried. Many of his friends made the ultimate sacrifice. He never got over that. I suppose no one does.
"Mr. Wesner," as I always called him, was a leader in his church for 50 years, and a dedicated employee of Ford Motor Company for 34 years. He was a collector of coins, stamps and antique cars. He still had his first new car, a beautiful 1949 Ford Custom, when he died.
Like so many from "The Greatest Generation," he was disciplined, diligent and gave everything his best. I learned mechanic work from him. I learned about the design and engineering of an automobile, and a thousand other things. But most of all, I learned a lot about the character of Jesus, because he modeled it every day of his 89 years. His greatest gift to me was my wife, Linda, but there are innumerable other gifts, all wonderful in their own way.
I had the privilege of officiating at his funeral. He was buried with full military honors. After the ceremony, we made the longest walk in the world, the walk away from a loved one’s fresh grave. We buried a body; the soul was already Home...reunited with his mom who died of tuberculosis when he was only two years old. Reunited with his dad who never remarried and raised two hungry kids during the Great Depression, and reunited with so many people whom he influenced in so many ways.
Seasons come and seasons go, and the press of life pushes forward, ever forward. My father-in-law is Home now with Jesus, but on this Veteran's Day weekend, I, along with many others, stand and applaud and say, "Well done, sir, well done. Thank you for loving God and others, and thank you for your service to our country." No one was ever more proud to call himself an American.
By the way, when you get to Heaven, if you see someone driving a like-new '49 Ford, be sure to wave. It will be my father-in-law, and he'll have a small American flag flying from the antenna. God bless him...and all our veterans...and God bless America.