When your phone rings at 1 a.m., your heart stops.
Nothing good happens at that time of day.
I can remember several of these phone calls growing up…
1998: My best friend getting a call to tell him his dad was dead.
2003: Getting the call that our childhood dog had died.
2007: Receiving the call that my grandmother had died.
On this day three years ago, I received another one of those calls. I remember it vividly:
My wife was crying.
I was half asleep.
I stood in the shower trying to make sense of it.
Three years ago my father-in-law died. He died much too young. It was one of the saddest days of my life because Roger Andrews was one of the best people on the planet.
Today, I want to tell you about him.
In this world of selfishness and evil, he was a shining beam of God. He was a huge guy, physically and spiritually. He loved kids and he loved helping people. He volunteered and poured himself out to others everyday. He loved to tell stories and sometimes they were so crazy you never had any idea if they were true or not, but that wasn’t the point.
He loved his wife and he adored his two daughters. He really liked playing jokes on people. He loved working in his garage and building things. He loved surprising people.
If you ever broke down, he was the one who would stop and help you. If you were ever sick and your grass was overgrown, he was the one outside on his lawn mower cutting it. If a pipe burst at 2 a.m., he was there fixing it.
Everyone loved him. He was a giver.
One of my most vivid memories of him–and there are many–was when I sat down at his kitchen table to ask his permission to marry his daughter.
(I think he was happy because, compared to some of the other deadbeats who had been around, I was Prince Charming. But I was still scared half to death.)
When I asked him, he said, “You don’t ever have to be rich, but if you don’t take care of my girl I will kill you.”
From that day forward I was like a son to him. No strings attached.
I do have regrets. I wish I had gotten to know him better. I wish I had valued him more while he was still here. Honestly, I just wish I was more like him. Selfless, giving and loyal.
Amidst the 100s of people who came to his house in the following days, I decided I would clean his garage. It was a pretty random task, I know. I had to be doing something, though. Sitting down and visiting with countless complete strangers just isn’t my thing. And if you would have seen the garage you would understand why: it needed some serious attention.
Roger had many talents, but keeping his garage organized…well…it just wasn’t his thing.
While cleaning, I ran across a pair of his old shoes.
They were massive. Size 16.
I saved those shoes and keep them in my garage today. It’s kind of strange having an old pair of shoes sitting in the garage on a shelf. But they are one of my most prized possessions.
Every day when I open the garage door and pull in, they are the first things I see.
I have them there to remind me that I have some awfully big shoes to fill. I have a name to hold up. But more importantly, if I don’t take care of his girl, he might find a way to kill me.
So, when I’m feeling worn out, tired or ready to quit, I look at those shoes and think of him. I think of how he beat cancer. How he gave like no one else. How he was a follower of God. A great dad and a great friend.
It was an honor being his son-in-law and it is my responsibility to carry on his legacy.
I have some mighty big shoes to fill.