October 2012 - Vol.  63.

From Father to Son: Things My Dad Taught Me About Life
 by Ted Kennedy III

2. One Dad and One Father.

From my youngest years, Dad had always begun his prayers with “Heavenly Father…”, and the phrase became just part of what you say when you pray. But around the time I turned forty, I went through a change in the way I approached my earthly father and my heavenly father. At that time, Dad’s prayer became mine in a deeper way. I began praying “Heavenly Father,” not because I had been taught to say it, but because it was true. God had become my Heavenly Father, my Eternal Father, my True Father. 

My earthly Father, my Dad, had cared for me, trained me, raised me, and introduced me to my Heavenly Father. I was filled with gratitude to him for all he had done, and I struggled for a way to express it. Then I came up with a plan: I would always call my earthly father “Dad” and my heavenly father “Father.” This would be a tribute to Dad because I knew that the greatest desire of his heart was for me to come to know God my True Father, and this was acknowledgement that he had succeeded. I had come to know my Father, my True Father, so Dad’s mission in my life was accomplished. He didn’t have to be my Father any more. God would handle that. God was now the one who was stronger than anyone or anything, who could handle every problem, solve every dilemma, and care for me in every circumstance. 

But Dad would always have that second place of honor: he was my Dad, my only Dad, who led me to my Father. He was the one, like John the Baptist, who showed the way to my Heavenly Father, and then stepped aside. He allowed himself to decrease so God could increase in my life. But his was the pre-eminent position among those on earth: he was my Dad. There would never be another. 

Not even God my Father could be my Dad. 

So for me, the greatest honor I could pay to my earthly father is to call him my Dad. And one of the greatest joys of my life was to have the chance, four days before he died, to tell him about this and to thank him for all he had done, to tell him that he had succeeded in his mission, and that he could go in peace. 

His last gesture to me as I left his room that day was a miniature salute with his hand - it would have been accompanied by the words "see ya later, big fella," if he could have spoken. That was his final salute to one of his junior officers, to whom he was now entrusting the care of the ship. That was the last time I saw him conscious, the last time I spoke to him, and the final salute I received from him. He was passing the mantel of leadership on, and entrusting me one final time to our Heavenly Father. 

(c) 2011 Ted Kennedy III
Ted Kennedy is a member of the Servants of the Word, an ecumenical brotherhood of men living single for the Lord. He is steward and trainer for the Servants of the Word international formation house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. Ted is a vice president at Service Brands International, a franchising company headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

.Click on links below to read separate stories

Intro Things My Dad Taught Me About Life
Story 1 Trust Your Strengths and Know Your Limits
Story 2 One Dad and One Father

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