My father died a week ago Saturday and his funeral was this past Friday. Given the long and blessed life that he led, the last week was really a celebration. And that celebration had everything to do with the impact he had and the example that he was.
We received many comments from many family members and friends…some of which include:
- Everyone has heroes in life that they look up to. I am no different. Yesterday we lost one of mine
- He stepped into my life when it was crumbling; he took me in emotionally and gave me strength. I’ll never forget how special and loved he made me feel
- I’m blessed to have had so much time with your Dad
- I can’t stop thinking about all the good times and advice that your Dad gave me
- He was an unbelievably great person and a role model for how a father should act
- I loved that man and admired him so much
- I think of him fondly…what an impact he had on me
- Your Dad was a great man and a big influence on my life
- Your father is one of the more important guideposts in my life. More than probably any other adult who I grew up with…besides my own father
- I’m a better man having known your Dad
Hearing similar things about him over the years, in addition to our own experiences, it wasn’t a total surprise for my mother, my 3 brothers, or me, although very gratifying.
From Modest Beginnings to Success
My dad and his siblings had a very modest childhood. Having his first job at age 7, he helped to support his family before paying his way through college. He would eventually own 3 successful small businesses and be active politically, first at the state and national levels as a leader in the pro-life movement. That was followed by being highly engaged internationally, working for peace in the Middle East, which had him engaged with kings and queens, other foreign heads of state, US presidents, vice presidents, senators, and congressmen.
What would impress most didn’t impress him at all. He liked to remind us that everyone puts their pants on the same way…one leg at a time.
The Impact He Had on So Many
So, the question is how his upbringing and lived experiences resulted in so many being so drawn to him. I think it was his humility, coupled with his compassion and his confidence, especially in others. People felt special when with him; they felt safe. He was other focused, deeply caring about others.
When you had a conversation with our dad, you had his full attention. He made you feel important, valued, and understood. He made you see yourself through his eyes and he saw you with infinite possibility.
He was the same with our family. I think the greatest example our father could have given his sons is how a husband is to love his wife. He loved, loved, loved our mother. We heard it 100s, if not 1000s of times, “your mother is the greatest gift God ever gave me”. Married for 57 years, they were best friends. They were inseparable.
As good an example he was as a husband, he equally exuded what it meant to be a great father, truly investing in his 4 sons, collectively and individually. He was always encouraging, teaching, coaching, mentoring, and loving us…as related to the sports we played and the endeavors we pursued.
Living His Faith…Answering the Call
A regular Sunday Mass attendee his entire life, my dad had his conversion when he was 71. From that time until near his death at age 84, he was a daily Mass attendee and Communicant. And every day at 3PM, he prayed both the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Rosary. He had an expression he used prior to procedures that he’d have done in the later part of his life, “it will be ok and if it’s not ok, it will be ok”. He was in a great place spiritually, saying to my brothers and me towards the end, “I’m tired; I want to go be with our Lord”.
In Matthew 22: 37-39, Jesus gave us the Great Commandments, where He said, “love God your Father with your hole heart, hole mind, hole soul, and hole strength; love your neighbor as yourself”. In addition to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), it is arguably the most impactful thing Jesus told us. Our father, Robert Joseph, did both in exemplary fashion:
- loved his God
- loved his wife, sons, and so many others
If we believe what we believe…and I do, our father is in a much better place. We’ll miss him, but we know that he’s at peace with our Lord, Jesus Christ. Can’t wait to see him again. We love you, Dad!!!
Feel free to contact me with questions or comments at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.
God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!