People of Faith Who Changed Our Lives
This page is dedicated to those people who helped formed our faith, who inspired us by the way they lived, or who brought us closer to God. If you would like to write and submit something, please send text and a photo if possible to Lorraine Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thoughts about Leon Mayer, who died on July 14, 2015, written by his son Jim
As I reflected this week on my dad, my thoughts seemed to keep coming back to “the lessons I learned from my dad.” Growing up, I think I learned a lot through osmosis…lessons learned simply by being around my dad and observing him…like the values of spending time with your family, serving others, and working hard. I noticed the abiding love and commitment he had for my mother, and his devotion to family in general, which included caring for and visiting my grandparents and extended family. I keyed in on the fact that this small-town boy from southern Illinois developed a huge passion for serving far-away peoples in Nigeria, Jamaica and Guam, in developing their agriculture and adult education. I learned that he and my mother were true educators at heart, and carried this value into providing for the education of their 5 sons and 11 grandchildren.
I realized that although I had learned a lot from my dad over the years, interestingly, I think I learned the most during the past 11 years, since he was diagnosed with dementia. I watched this man who had been strong and independent and capable, learn to graciously accept help from me and from others. It clearly wasn’t easy for him – especially at first. But over time, as he lost the abilities to remember, and to speak and care for himself, he developed an incredibly gentle, and warm way of accepting help. And, he developed abilities that had always come hard for him… he learned to be very present to people, to be “in the moment,” and to show his appreciation for those around him. As a younger man, he had often seemed very task-oriented and driven to get things done. But, in his later years, as he adjusted to his dementia, he developed an ability to truly delight in people, and savor the moments he had with them. Even when he lost the ability to greet people by name, he always had a big smile to greet them, and was even known to take a person’s hand and land a little kiss on it. In Christianity, our attempts to understand God include the image of a Father, who totally delights in His sons and daughters. I think, in my dad’s later years, he reflected that image of a father who delights in his children. Thank you, dad, for all of the lessons you taught us.