As I have been reading Dad’s letters it’s become more clear to me what an exceptional person he was. His work ethic, energy level, integrity, positive outlook, as well as his love for the Lord and his Darling Sarah shine through in his writing and are inspiring indeed.
Dad. Willis. Dr. Reed. Pastor Reed. Chaplain. Colonel Reed. All of these monikers were used by the people in various circles to address my father during my formative years. He was many things to many people, but I was fortunate and truly blessed to be able to call him Dad. Larger than life yet humble in spirit, Dad was a person to which most could only aspire to be. At the perfect time, he would share simple sayings such as, “People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care” or “Some folks bury the hatchet, but then they leave the handle sticking out.” His insight into human nature with people from all walks of life was extraordinary. He once told me that on two separate occasions he calmly took a gun out of a man’s hand during a domestic dispute. To me, this represents the truest form of Christ-like love and bravery–the winning of the heart and mind through nonviolent means.
After Dad retired from his job as Head Pastor at First Baptist Church in Elgin, he and Sarah would spend a week in summer visiting our family in Vermont. We were lucky to be able to have my parents all to ourselves without them being distracted by the trappings of hearth and home. As the years progressed, Dad became a bit forgetful and his mind a bit less sharp. We would tell him things and a few minutes later he’d ask about the very thing we’d just said. However, his joy and enthusiasm never wavered. Once during a summer visit, he said he was going to use the bathroom and turned to go in the wrong direction. Sarah chuckled quietly and whispered to us, “He doesn’t know where he’s going.” Not to be outdone, Dad turned to us and replied emphatically, “I know where I’m going–I’m going to heaven!” Yet another example of the simple truths that Dad regularly shared.
I still think of Dad every day at some point. When confronted with a dilemma or difficult situation I reflect on his wisdom or his lovingkindness as inspiration to carry on. The legacy that Willis and Sarah left all of us provides an endless source of energy and love that can only come from above.
October 2, 2017