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Tribute to Fathers
by Larry Thompson

Two brothers played in the living room of the parsonage. The parsonage was a house provided for the family by the church that their father led. He had died earlier in the year and their mother had been leading the family alone for the last eight months. Christmas was approaching and the brothers were consumed with thoughts of the latest toys and games, while their mother’s were consumed by thoughts of finding a new house in the tiny town that had been their home for 10 years. She did not want to uproot the family, and yet her search had been fruitless. The patience of the church continued, but unknown to the boys the church had given their mother just a few more weeks to find a home. A new pastor had been found and he would be moving his family into the home right after Christmas.

As the two brothers played, a man slowly approached the house and knocked on the door. The oldest brother opened the door and greeted the young man standing outside. He was strange in dress and look for the small town; neither brother had seen this man before.

“Is your mother at home?” queried the young man.

“Yes, I’ll get her,” answered the oldest brother.

The mother came to the door. She and the man talked outside for a few moments and then came indoors.

“You boys go outside and play for a while,” the mother said. ”This young man and I need to talk.”

This last sentence went unquestioned but certainly not unheeded -- after all it was a rare opportunity indeed to play outdoors on a chilly December afternoon. Especially when there was no snow!

When the boys returned home later that evening, Mother met them at the door. Her words were calm and steady as always.

“Boys, please start to pack your rooms. We’ll be moving this weekend.”

And that was that.

The next few weeks were a whirlwind of activity -- packing, cleaning, moving, and unpacking. The new house was larger, with two stories and two bathrooms and an attic and room indoors for their father’s pool table.

The moving was not completed in time for Christmas, but there was a tree and trimmings. Seems those boxes were easily reached in the move and one extremely icy day allowed the mother and the brothers to do a bit of decorating.

In fact the moving would not be complete for almost a month, and in early March each person’s room was finally spic and span.

The oldest brother discovered the rest of the story many years later.

The strange man on the porch was named Lanny. He had lived in the house two blocks from the parsonage for a couple of years. Lanny’s mother, who was an attorney and lived several towns over, had purchased the house. She had given Lanny the keys and the deed and had given him to the world.

Lanny lived a reclusive life in the town of 300 -- a nearly impossible task. He had filled his days and nights with parties and friends and illegal substances. These facts went almost unnoticed by the townspeople and by the mother and the brothers.

In one of Lanny’s lucid moments he had read an obituary in mid-April. The obituary had detailed the life and times of a local town leader. That lucid moment was short-lived and Lanny thought nothing more of it until that December afternoon when he decided to knock on the parsonage door.

The conversation that Lanny had with the boys’ mother that afternoon revealed that Lanny had not lived an unnoticed life in that small town after all. In fact, Lanny told of many visits by the town’s preacher to his home over time. It seems that Lanny and the preacher talked often and the preacher had even baptized Lanny on one of his visits.

Though his life had continued its twisted spiral toward what most self-righteous members of the local church would have seen end in the fiery pits of hell, Lanny had been touched by that preacher.

He had contacted his mother about his intentions, and on that December afternoon Lanny had given the deed to his house to the boys’ mother. She had insisted on giving him a check from the insurance money and he had at last accepted it. From that day on, no one in the town saw Lanny again.

I take from this story two things: First, a preacher reaches out to his flock, even those that may be below the vision of his “normal” parishioners. Second, a father does what he can for his family. He may not know always what benefits his family will gain, but always he does what he can.

And so, as a tribute to fathers, I wanted to share this story of a father and a family left behind. I tell you this as a means to reach out to your hearts and minds just as this father, even after his death, had reached out to my mother and my brother and me.

Copyright 2003, Larry Thompson


BIO: Larry Thompson has been a featured storyteller from ocean to ocean and all parts in between. His special "telling" style brings audiences to a place of pure fun. Larry is based in San Antonio, Texas, where he's available for schools, retreats, conferences, spouse programs, churches, car washes, revivals, and just about any event that won't embarrass him.

Visit Larry's Website: TexasStorytelling.com

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