October 8th is a special day for me, because it is my father’s birthday. He would have turned 73 years old today had he not passed away due to cancer seven years ago.
He was, and still is, the greatest man I have ever known!
As a way of honoring my dad on his birthday, I would like to share the words I spoke at the celebration of his life on August 2, 2009.
“This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. Sandy, have I told you today that I love you? Well, I love you”
This is the way my dad greeted my mother every morning for the last several years of his life. In fact, both of them told me it was a race to see who would say it first.
Since 2001, when my dad was first told he had brain cancer, he made a point of living each day without regret. He wanted my mom to know he loved her; he wanted his family to know he loved each of us, and he wanted his friends to know he loved them. I believe he did a great job of that for the last 8 years of his life.
My wife asked me, shortly after my dad passed away, what part of my dad’s life I am most proud of and I told her the way he dealt with his cancer over his last 8 years. I have seen Christians who when they learned they had cancer they chose to make it about them; my dad chose to see his cancer as an opportunity to point others toward Christ. During conversations with dad over his last few years, I told him how proud I was of him and how amazing I thought he was handling this situation.
Without fail, every time he would tell me it was not him, it was Christ in him that was giving him the strength to handle cancer with dignity and strength (Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”).
Dad lived this verse daily for all of us to see.
My dad taught me many things about life and in the last couple years of his life he taught me about death.
When it comes to life, he taught me to be well-rounded and appreciate the world around me. He taught me how to be a man who loves God and lives for Him in all situations, because life is not about me it is about glorifying God in everything (Colossians 3:23 & 24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”).
My dad served Christ by loving, encouraging, and helping others.
My dad’s wisdom and advice has been a tremendous benefit to me several times throughout my life.He taught me that family and friends are to be cherished and never to be taken for granted. In fact, in 2007 when he and my mother were about to board their plane from Fort Myers to return home he told me to “slow down, spend time with Robyn and Caleb, and love them like you only have today with them.”
He also taught me not to be afraid of dying!
On a few occasions over the last couple months of his life he would remind me of what Philippians 1:21 says “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” This is a great verse for Christians as we near our own death, but as I prepared my thoughts about dad I went back several verses. I believe Paul’s experience described in verses 19-27 sums up how my dad felt during his last 8 years on earth. My dad’s struggle between wanting to be with us on earth and wanting to be with Christ ended July 29, 2009. I am convinced it is because dad knew we were ready to “conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” My dad would want us to relive the memories we made with him, remember his counsel and advice, and live for Christ until the day we are reunited with him in heaven.
I am proud to be Chuck and Sandy Wilson’s son.
Just as my dad taught me many things, so has my mother. From 2001-2009 she made many sacrifices and dedicated her life to caring for my dad. She loved dad through a very difficult situation with strength and grace. Even while caring for him, she was able to encourage others and that only comes from the strength of Christ. Mom as we celebrate dad’s life we must do it while thanking you. I am proud of you and know that dad was fortunate to have such a loving wife. I am sure God would say “well done Sandy thank you for caring for my servant, Chuck.”
I want to finish with one of my dad’s favorite poems.
The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
There were at least two very important times in my dad’s life when he took “the road less travelled and it made all the difference.” The most important was when he accepted Christ as his Savior and the second was the way he dealt with his cancer.
His desire was to “finish well” and on July 29, 2009 at 11:02 am in his home with his wife of 44 years by his side, Chuck Wilson finished well!