If he was still alive, we’d have celebrated my father’s 80th birthday last week. I thought about him on his birthday and gave thanks to God for his life. I called my Mum to see if she was ok and I read a few pages from his autobiography about his childhood memories of the Second World War to my two youngest children at breakfast. David, our youngest was just a baby when he died and so doesn’t remember him.
But I remember him. He died nearly ten years ago now, but there’s much that I still recollect about his life. I recall his gentle but clear leadership. He had that rare blend of humility and authority that I find so effective and attractive. I remember his funny ways, like forgetting the punch-line of jokes. And his daily rituals of cleaning his shoes and eating a spoonful of bran every morning which looked to me like horse-food! But most of all I simply remember him as my dad – as someone who played cricket with me and my brothers in the garden, who asked about my day at mealtimes, who encouraged me to reach for my best and who prayed for us every day.
No person is perfect. Not my dad, nor me.
No father is perfect. Not my dad, nor me.
No leader is perfect. Not my dad, nor me.
But I think that my father, Richard William Porter was pretty good. That’s why I’m not embarrassed to be grateful for his life. For all he invested in me. And for the legacy of Christian faith and the kind fathering which he passed on to me. I am challenged to do the same.