This week, my father passed on to his eternal reward. We have received so many kind, thoughtful, and meaningful messages from family and friends around the world. You realize at a time like this just how many lives are touched by one individual.
Even though it is my dad who died, every message references “Bark and Esther” or “Mr. and Mrs. Barker” or “your Dad and Mom”.
Husband and wife.
67 years of marriage.
It is like butter on hot cornbread – you can’t separate them.
Our son-in-law Tim wrote the following – “Bark was always interested in me and Salem and what we were up to. He and Esther have been great examples of what a Godly marriage looks like.”
A lasting legacy of love.
So much is written about love around Valentine’s Day. Some of it is meaningful and sincere. Some is self-serving and shallow. You can tell after being around a couple for a certain period of time whether their love is genuine or fake.
My friend Joyce told me today on the phone – ” I loved watching your parents together. You could see how much they loved each other.”
They did not practice “public displays of affection.” Their love was expressed through deference to the needs and feelings of each other.
Two days before Dad died he was retaining fluid and having difficulty breathing. I was sitting with him and he opened his eyes, looked at me, and said, “Gayle, where is Mother?”
“She went to take a nap, Dad. Is there something you need?”
“Oh, good.” Dad replied. “She needs to rest.” Dad was struggling at the end of his life here on earth, yet his thoughts were of his wife’s health and comfort.
I will always remember Jay Fesperman telling young couples what the most important skill for effective parenting was for the parents to –
Love each other.
That creates an atmosphere of security, trust, and peace in the home. It is also the perfect environment for children to thrive.
I was blessed to grow up in a home where my parents truly loved each other.
Our home was not perfect – but my brothers and I never doubted that my parents genuinely loved each other. Our home was a secure place to live.
I Corinthians 13: 4-7 expresses real love this way –
4 Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, 5 never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. 6 It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. 7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
I am so very grateful for the legacy of love my parents have left behind.
It is worth far more than any material inheritance – it is of eternal value.
My father will be greatly missed. I pray that Phil and I and our children and grandchildren will carry on that legacy of lasting love.