"Miss Jean Louise," kindly Reverend Sykes gently admonishes. "Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing."
I remember at the end of my father's funeral, nearly 26 years ago, that we all stood up at the end of the service... and the quote above passed through my mind, where Reverend Sykes urges Scout, a.k.a. Jean Louise, to stand up after the trial as her father Atticus Finch left the courtroom in To Kill A Mockingbird.
I was very lucky to have a father who I could put into a similar class of man as Atticus Finch. Unfailingly kind, unfailingly fair, unfailingly respectable, unfailingly loving. Most of my friends have fathers who either fall or fell into a similar class of man...and we are lucky children.
This morning, I am thinking of those who have lost fathers this week... friends locally here in Montgomery, Alabama, and friends globally. I am thinking about the children who lost their fathers in a senseless act of violence in Charleston, SC. But I am also thinking about those who still have their fathers here on this mortal earth and hope that they have a father who passes the Atticus Test.
The Atticus Test to me is a man who simply lives in the very best way that he knows how while raising his children, each and every day. I am lucky to be able to watch a brother, a brother-in-law, and a nephew who is a very recent dad, and cousin who is like a brother... all good men, all men who do their best each day to live up to the ideals of the Atticus Test... unfailingly kind, unfailingly fair, unfailingly respectable, unfailingly loving.
I also am thinking about other men in my life who acted as fathers to me in different ways as I grew up, and it makes me realize that even I, with no children, have a responsibility to also live up to the Atticus Test... you never know when you have a chance to make a difference in a child's life and to be unfailingly kind, unfailingly fair, unfailingly respectable, unfailingly loving.
As I stood up at the end of my father's funeral, I was smiling through my tears... because I was lucky enough to have a man in my life who passed the Atticus Test with flying colors... and I was lucky enough to be able to call him Daddy.
Thanks, Daddy... I am still learning from you... and like Scout, I am still proud to stand up in your honor... for being unfailingly kind, unfailingly fair, unfailingly respectable, unfailingly loving.
Happy Fathers Day to everyone, and whether he is here or not, stand up on Sunday -- your father is passing.