Today I honor and remember my father, who would have been 77 years old today. Over the past year I have had many things happen which prompted me to remember my father and what he taught me. Most recently I was on my way to a luncheon and had to be in the left lane to eventually make a left turn. Even though that left turn wasn’t for another 3 miles, I got into the left lane and stayed there. This is something my father taught me – don’t wait until the last minute to try to get where you need to be. I laughed about it as the memory came to me, and I simply said “thanks Dad.”

For those who never knew him, he was a kind, gentle and loving man who had a good head on his shoulders. He was sensible, practical and meticulous in his everyday life. He put God first, family second and everything else last. He was a supportive father, who went the extra mile for his children, he made many sacrifices for me when I was a child growing up. If you made a mistake he made sure you recognized it, he was firm handed but also wanted to help you realize your error so you wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. To my mother he was a faithful and loving husband, who treated her with the utmost respect and devotion. I know that my father loved my mother more than anything in the world. On the night she suffered a cerebral aneurism, I remember vividly being in my bedroom and crying my eyes out, fearful that I was going to lose my mother. My father came in to my room and hugged me, he told me that we must place this in God’s hands and trust that whatever the outcome, it is God’s will. I remember him starting to cry and saying to me, “We need to pray for her, because I don’t know what I’ll do without your Mom.” The next day he fixed my mother’s seasoned chicken breast recipe, which was his favorite. He butchered it. Never in my life have I ever eaten such dry, overcooked, chicken. It was like eating wood. But we ate it and we forgave him, he never was much of a cook. Well, that’s not entirely true, the man could grill stuff better than anyone I know. He just wasn’t a chef when it came to prepared meals that required use of the oven.

I’d like to think I have lived my life in such a way that he would be proud of me. I’m not perfect, but I learned a lot from him and I have tried my best to employ those teachings in my life.

On May 4, 2015, it will be five years since he passed from this earth and entered into the open embrace of our Lord. Heaven’s gain is my loss. Dad, I miss you very much, but now you are in better hands, free of sickness and pain. He lies in the peaceful place of rest at his alma mater, West Point. In the West Point Alma Mater, there is a line which reads:

And when our work is done, Our course on earth is run, May it be said, “Well done. Be thou at peace.”

Dad, well done. Be thou at peace. Happy Birthday.

I love you.

Wiley V. Harris, Jr. (1938-2010)

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