Please join me in welcoming my dear friend and fellow writer, Lestie Zachary, with an excerpt from her new book, When Old School Meets New School: 7 Keys to Bridging the Gap of Respect, which is coming out soon.
Dad's standards for living a good life were simple: provide for the needs of family, love and support them through the trials and triumphs, and give generously to those in need. Dad had exciting hobbies he enjoyed throughout his lifetime, but they came second to the needs of others. If he was lending a hand to a neighbor, working to better church facilities, or simply holding a door for a passer-by, it was always with someone else's needs in mind.
There were some lean times in my years growing up. Somehow, we always had what we needed. Occasionally, Dad hunted and brought home wild game to help meet the family budget. Momma was a genius when it came to making a frugal meal taste gourmet. Every once in a while, Dad would surprise us with a drive-through ice cream cone on an otherwise uninspiring Sunday afternoon. It was rare that we ever ate out. Dad always paid the tab when we did, no matter who shared our table. This was not out of obligation. He was a giving man.
A great example of Dad's generosity comes from a sweet, touching memory and life lesson I have always cherished. You may have heard the common saying, "He would give you the shirt off his back," indicating a valuable sacrifice that would greatly benefit another. This gift of time or resources is considered respectful and an act of kindness. In other words, generosity is kindness in motion.
I was a young woman in my mid-twenties, married with two children at the time. My folks were excited to see us all, especially the grandkids. Dad and Mom had traveled across three states to visit us at our home in Houston, Texas. A long time had passed since last I'd seen them. It seemed an eternity. I was so excited with anticipation for the time we'd share catching up on each other's lives.
The smiles and happy tears flooded our faces as we embraced. I wrapped my arms around my dad for a big hug and noticed his shirt's comfortableness. It was a sporty, soft white t-shirt with a yoke across the front, a rounded neck, and long sleeves. The double-knit spoke of good quality fabric. I think the specialty of that t-shirt was how it felt mingled with the love Dad poured into that long-overdue hug. He just smiled when I expressed how much I loved it.
We welcomed my folks into our home. Throughout our visit that day, I complimented Dad on how handsome he looked in the shirt and just how cozy it felt to the touch. I commented on the shirt one last time, not realizing how much I'd gone on about it. Then something remarkable happened. Dad took off the shirt right where we stood, leaving his torso covered with an everyday t-shirt. I flushed with embarrassment. My dazed response must have been apparent. He folded the gift still warm from his body, raised my hands in a receiving position, and lovingly placed the shirt in them.
I stammered, trying to deny the gift. Mortification set in hard and fast as I realized I had voiced my fondness for the shirt to excess. Dad must have felt obliged to give it to me. But that's not how it went down. He just smiled those loving eyes of his and said, "No. You like it. I want you to have it."
I was on the verge of missing the life lesson of Dad's generosity as kindness in motion. Was he giving to earn God's or man's attention? Was he giving out of fear that I wouldn't love him if he didn't give it to me? Was he giving the gift to get something in return? No, these were not Dad's motives. It was not for the fanfare of notoriety. It was not to make him feel superior. He expected nothing in return. It was a simple gift from dad to daughter with no strings attached. He was simply a generous man. Dad's love for his family and friends was straightforward. There were no hidden agendas. He gave what he had to make others' lives a little sweeter.
More about Lestie:
Lestie married the same sweet guy she fell in love with more than 37 years ago. She is Mom, Mahzha, Maw, Mum, and sometimes Bob to her five brilliant kiddos, two of whom chose to marry into this fun-loving family. she is also Gramz to eight captivating and also brilliant grands. She and her husband live and work in Arkansas.
Lestie loves all things family, chocolate, and homemaking. In the past year, she has thoroughly enjoyed co-writing with God, which has become her passion and loves every chance she gets to craft her ideas with pen and Big Chief notebook.
*Background photo is the lake where Lestie lives in Arkansas.