Even though my relationship with my dad was strong, I was always thankful for the other "father figures" in my life. Whether it was our youth minister or the dad of a friend, there was no shortage of strong, caring male role models around. My husband, John, was lucky enough to have these, too. He had one in particular. Mr. Bryan. Mr. Bryan was the father of John's best friend growing up in Dallas. My husband and his friend were up to all kinds of mischief in their neighborhood, some of it we have on videotape. John had a great relationship with his own father. His father loved him well and taught him so much about love and life and business. I am so thankful for John's parents because they raised this wonderful man that is my partner in every way. Mr. Bryan, well Mr. Bryan invited John to church.
When John and I got married almost fifteen years ago we had our engagement portrait at our reception for all of our friends to sign. There are some very touching things written and some very funny things, (thanks Tyler and Bradley!) On the left side, two-thirds of the way down is this quote.
Sorry this is so blurry, but it says "Hi John, come to church w/Kevin and us this weekend-Lee Bryan 1979." My husband went to church with them. He wound up joining that church at the age of 17 and becoming very involved in the youth ministry program. John found his calling there. He graduated from college with a business degree, but his heart was called to youth ministry. He graduated from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education at Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia and went on to have a very successful twenty-something year career before "retiring" from professional youth ministry last year. The roots of John's faith came from the family he was born into, and the Bryans provided the opportunity for his faith to grow.
Why am I thinking about all of this today? Mr. Bryan passed away last week. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and fought valiantly until it was time to stop fighting. Last Saturday we were able to go and be there for his memorial service and spend a little time with the family. They are so full of love and faith. Even in the midst of such a sad occasion, they were a joy to be with. And to Mr. Bryan, thank you. Thank you for loving and caring so well for your own family and for the others that crossed your path. Thank you for sharing your faith.
And for the rest of us, you do not know the lifelong impact your words and interactions might have. Whenever possible, speak and reach out in love! And whenever you can, in any way you can, fight cancer!