Last week was historic. Not in a public way but in my personal life. I conducted the last meeting and closed a ministry of 60 years, with thirty of those years ‘on the road’. The 30 years that I conducted my THREE UNUSUAL DAYS began in July of 1975. The weekend included about 8 hours of teaching that carried me into all 50 states and 27 foreign countries. Books written, audios produced, LP records and a final set of video films. I am now officially retired.
Years ago I wrote to all my children asking forgiveness for having been gone so many times when I was needed at home. Going through some old papers today I found this letter from our youngest son, Ed. It was written August 4, 1994.
I got your letter. I probably could have called but I think letters are better. There is an effort in writing. It takes so little to call. Letters can be read again and again, unlike phone calls. Letters are capable of ‘touching’ again and again.
There were times when you were not there. That is not something to be held against you. You were and are following the destiny that is yours and yours alone. If you had been a “homebody” where would you be in life right now? If you had not taken the trips, met the needs of so many other people, how would their lives differ? No man lives his life without affecting those around him.
Still, you say, “I always seemed to be gone.” You were there many times. Remember the little creek that ran behind the church office. Many an early Sunday morning, we would hang out there. You were kind of thinking your lesson through, but all I know is I was there with you. Then there was the donut and milk before school. Remember, I caddied for you and then we would sit together in the steam room. We watched wrestling together. Back then they could not hit with their closed fist or they would be disqualified. Now they hit with their fists and the fans count the licks.
Remember Mom was a bit embarrassed when you bit deeply into a ‘slow poke’ and had to set your teeth on the table, locked in the sucker? We thought it was great and had a good laugh at that.
It is true that you were gone sometimes, but you were there, too. There are times, I know, when it would have been better had I been with my girls, but they needed distance and space. You take the good with the bad and give the good with the bad. That is why we are only humans. If we only gave good . . . well, that just doesn’t happen because we are human.
I view things differently now. I have begun to view my age by how many I know that have left their bodies for another world – not by how many people I know. It is getting where I know more who have moved on, and fewer who are left here behind. Middle age keeps getting pushed farther back, and old age grows nearer. With old age, death is not far off.
You have nothing to ask forgiveness for. You did what you had to do. All good parents do. That you were human and flawed was no secret. You do what you hope is right and hope for the best. If you feel you need forgiveness, you have it. It was given a long time ago.
I remember when I first realized that you had limits. That there were things you couldn’t do. Knowing the weakness of parents is the rite of passage for all boys and girls. I suppose that day has already come for my two girls. You do your best and follow your destiny that is your life and hope for the best to happen. That you think I have made a fine son is more than I deserve. I continue to try each day.
Our beloved son, Ed, died suddenly about noon last Easter day. We did not have time to say “good-bye”. He was the youngest of the three boys. He was 52.
At the time of his death, he was writing a commentary on the book of Psalms. One of his favorite Psalms was read at his memorial service. It was a Psalm of David who wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness, for His name sake.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
It is with joy and sadness I write this Dedication Column to our son, Glenn Edward Exum.