My brother Mark, a prominent gastroenterologist at Desert Sam, and his wife Kris, were getting close to retirement, had all four of their boys well raised, when Gretchen and Tommy came into their lives. Their three and four year old niece and nephew needed rescuing. Mark and Kris thought it would just be temporary at first, to get their shipwrecked lives stabilized and find them appropriate adoptive parents, possibly within their extended family. As it turned out, Mark and Kris were the best ones to be the parents for Tommy and Gretchen, and the adoption was finalized last fall in a heart-warming ceremony with all 13 of their children, grandchildren, their spouses, and great-grandma present. I spent last week with them on vacation in their Flagstaff cabin to celebrate our Mom’s birthday. I watched my 63 year old brother wrestle with seven year old Tommy, and waltz with eight year old Gretchen. During the day, they got to practice driving their kid-sized quad in figure eights carefully marked out by orange cones. “The most important thing to learn is how to stop.” Tommy loved putting on his new garden gloves to help Mark with chores. Mark is the only doctor I know who does all his own yard work. Now he has a cabin, so he can do all the upkeep on two houses. He loves to work—spray-painting the shake roof, clearing boulders, planting red fescue, planting maple trees, then fencing out the elk, building his own sprinkler system and drip lines. His next project is building a playground. Kris and I were reflecting on how different the world would be two generations from now if they hadn’t stepped in. Their self-giving, sacrificial love has made a huge impact on everyone who knows them.
This Father’s Day, I am grateful for Mark’s generous heart. Where did all that love come from? My Dad just passed away last August after 64 years of marriage to the love of his life, my Mom. They had six children in 7 1/2 years and raised us to believe that we were here for the purpose of serving others.
If you have a Dad that you admire, please blog in during the month of June, log in and share your reflections with us.