Goodbye Dad: Thoughts Upon The Loss Of A Great Father

Monday, June 26, 2017

I am one of those fortunate souls, blessed with the legacy of a great father.  My dad, Dolton Wayne Robertson I,  according to me and my brother’s estimation, was the apotheosis of Christian Fatherhood.  He was the benchmark.  He was as compassionate as he was strong, as funny as he was stern and as wise as he was common and accessible.

After a three-week battle with the aftermath of two heart attacks, Dad went home to be with the Lord from Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.  For me, the experience of his passing brought unprecedented exposure to the realities of mortal limitations and the important complexities of life.  Saying goodbye to loved-ones that you value so has a way of imposing the priorities of wisdom, causing the fog of frivolity and self-interest to dissipate.

While I feel less than adequate to sort out my own perspective with clarity, Allow me to share a few thoughts - thoughts that I hope could encourage the reader to apply the lessons of future loss to the important commitments of the present.  In other words, may you begin to do some of the things today that you will wish you had done when your loved-ones are gone.

  1. Regrets are real.
I had a fantastic relationship with my father.  I have no bad memories - just for the record.  I do; however, regret a ton of little things.  Maybe some have lived so well that they can stand at the bedside of dying loved-ones and not feel the compulsion to count the missteps along the way.  I have not.

I did not call enough.  I did not visit enough.  I did not ask enough questions (and then listen to the answers).  I spent too much time trying to demonstrate my strengths to my father, instead of admiring and learning from his.  I should have been the personification of submission, honor and gratitude.  He deserved that.

I have no deep self-loathing, but once your loved-ones are gone, there is nothing else you can do.  This is why Lester Flatt said to send the flowers while they are living!  Dad knew I loved him, but I wish I could tell him once more with feeling.  

The point?  Get busy loving the ones you love.  Seriously, get at it.

2.  Doing the right things cannot be over-valued.

I cannot imagine how difficult those last days at Vanderbilt and especially the final moments would have been, were my father not the man that he was.  How painful would it have been to say goodbye to an abusive, uncaring, unChristian man?

The way Dad lived made it so much easier to say goodbye.  From Mom to the youngest grandchild, we all had fond memories of a man that we knew loved us with all his heart.  His family was always more important to him than his golf buddies or business partners.  He was faithful at his post at the end of the pew, three times a week.  His near excessive favor for his sons only pushed us to buy into the truth that he was preaching (in life, that is, Dad was not a preacher).

Dads, moms, husbands, wives…do the right things.  Put the big stuff in and let the rest fill in the spaces that are left.  If you truly, actively love the people in your life, they will know it, and it will make a difference.

3.  Knowing God is the chief pursuit.

I will never forget the day that I realized my dad was a genuine, dedicated Christian.  We were all working in the yard and it was hot!  As a young sixth grader, I asked Dad if he wanted me to get him a beer.  He said, “No son, there’s not going to be any more beer around here.”  I watched him come home at night and study his Bible.  I was thrilled on Sunday mornings to get up and ride the church bus that he drove.  I was often amazed at his testimonies of answered prayer.

My Dad was a great provider.  He was a hands-on coach, a drill-instructor, a sales manager, meaning, he taught us by being with us.  He was fun and always positive.  He was never, not ever, hateful to his family, but the most important thing about Dad was his faith.  He knew God.  I have to believe that was the primary reason for the other strengths that he modeled every day.  

Allow me to challenge you with these three thoughts: (1) Get busy loving your family now - you will not always have them with you, (2) Live the kind of life that will allow your children to rejoice at your bedside when the Lord calls you home, and finally, (3) Get to know God.  Pursue Him.  Draw nigh unto Him.  Consequently, death will simply be, going home.  

Thank you, God for Dad.

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  1. This is such great words of a great man..I loved him dearly and like you have alot of great to you all..

  2. Thank you Sherry! Thank you for reading, thank you for loving Dad.

  3. A very touching tribute. I did not know him, but I have come to love his grand children, and I can see a lot of the same traits you describe, in them. It is obvious that your father's love and examples, passed on to you and are reflected in Kelsi, Buddy, and Charli. A Fan and Friend. Willie Sorrell

  4. Dolton.... I never knew him but your post makes me wish I had... losing my own Dad just 2 years ago, I can certainly appreciate how you obviously felt about your father.... I wrote something that I posted after Dad passed, it somehow helped me to get part of the grief out of me although, it will never be completely ... God Bless you as you go forward. We will see them again. I believe it with all my heart... it's the only way I can bear the loss of my Dad, Mom & Brothers.

  5. by the way this is Larry Cordle... I don't think it posted my name.

    1. Mr. Cordle!!! Many thanks for the kind words. You have been so good to my kids and I am grateful. I love your music. Thank you for being a friend. Please call on me if you ever need me.

  6. Having been blessed to know Brother Dalton Sr. For only a short time, it was my exsplicit honor to be a friend of Brother Dalton. I was always greeted by him with a smile a harty hand shank and often a humerus comment lifting my spirit as only he could do. He was a man of whom I would have greatly cherished growing and learning from, what a blessing he must have been to those who had known and grown up under his influence. I am overwhelmed and blessed by his son Dalton, my pastor, and could easily see Brother Dalton Sr’s influence on all those he dearly loved. I am proud to have known Bro. Dalton Sr. Even though my time with him here may have been short, He was my friend, I will miss him dearly and look forward to seeing him again one day!