August 11 is my Daddy's birthday. I won't get to spend it with him as my father Phillip Elvin Carr relocated from Silicon Valley up to heaven 22 years ago, so I’m sending this birthday wish on a prayer to him.
Like me, my Daddy-O (my nickname for him) was a night owl. We had some of our best conversations at 3:00 am, and I often feel closest to him at night when we’d pop Orville Redenbacher popcorn and watch old comedies like Abbott & Costello.
My parents divorced during my senior year of high school. When I was 18 and staying with him over the summer prior to my freshman year in college, I came home one night and we were talking about the meaning of life. He pulled a worn newspaper column from the slot behind his photos of my brother Lance and I.
“This is how I’ve always defined success,” he said simply. “It’s a column I first read in Dear Abby that was inadvertently attributed to poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Robert Louis Stevenson, but was actually written by a housewife named Bessie A. Stanley for a contest.”
Curious, I reached for the thinned, darkened piece of newsprint and read as follows:
To laugh often and love much;
to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children;
to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to give of one’s self;
to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.
This poem captured his essence and was read at his service in March 1997.
My father was an intelligent, funny and loving man who was loyal to a fault (and stubbornly hardheaded at times, too). When IBM betrayed him and let him go after 35 years of faithful service, I believe it literally broke his heart.
He’s resided in heaven now for 22 years and I know he’s sharing stories, laughing, whistling and singing at the fun and never-ending family reunion in the sky. He never got to see his grandchildren graduate nor hold his only grandson, nor great-granddughter.
I miss him and wish I’d communicated better with him as a daughter. I’d love to enjoy one more late night of watching old movies, snacking on popcorn and listening to his stories.
When He died, the Hol Spirit led me to read Revelatrions 22:5, which has comforted me.
5 And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will be their light; and they shall reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22:5 Living Bible (TLB)
Today, I honor the birthday and memory of Phillip Elvin Carr by sharing his success with you, and thank Jesus Christ for making it possible for us to reunite for a big family reunion in heaven in the future.