After being unresponsive for two days, my dad was escorted into the presence of his Savior on Saturday May 4, 2013 at 2 AM. Family and friends gathered to celebrate his life last Friday. I shared these words:
One month ago Mom and Dad received your many birthday and anniversary cards and wishes. And now our family graciously thanks you for your many sympathy cards, calls, emails, and most importantly prayers.
Some of you present today knew my Dad, Sam Joe, as family, dear friend and/or associate. Some have never met Dad and you are here in support of those who have had the privilege and honor of knowing him. As family, we had the honor, privilege, and blessing of knowing him as husband, father, Dad, Pop, grandfather, YehYeh, GoongGoong, and great-grandfather, Bok-Goong. Together, we mourn.
Perhaps in the quiet moments you’ve read Dad’s biography, written by his granddaughter Denise, who collected more information than could fit onto a single page. You have heard three eulogies adding to the glimpses of this remarkably loving, giving, devoted, dedicated, thoughtful, God-loving man, whose love was expressed in manifold kind ways to countless souls.
Paul says in Romans 2:4 Do you recognize that it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance?
God was kind toward Dad.
God showed his kindness toward Dad as He allowed this 11 year old to leave behind every member of his immediate family in China to enter the United States after having been detained on Angel Island.
God showed his kindness toward Dad as he worked as a servant boy for two women in Minden, Nevada.
God showed his kindness toward Dad as he attended school in Sacramento, erroneously enrolled at a parochial school. He asked his friends if their teachers wore the same clothes every day. He was then moved to a public school.
God showed his kindness toward Dad when, as a first lieutenant in the Army Air Force in WWII, and after one battle, he was informed that none of his comrades returned.
God showed his kindness toward Dad when a young teenaged woman named Alice was selling tickets to a dance, and he would respond with his proposal to purchase two if she would accompany him. (Dad was a quick-thinker!)
God showed his kindness toward Dad as he married Alice in 1943, and in subsequent years became father to the four of us, Bob, Stanton, Tommy and myself, and in time became father-in-love to his son and daughters-in-love, grandfather to eleven and great-grandfather to three.
God showed his kindness toward Dad that day as he was pulling weeds, Dad heard a clear voice telling him to move. He did, just seconds before the block wall, for no apparent reason, toppled onto the very spot from which he had just moved.
Dad responded to God’s kindnesses toward him in not exactly the way one would expect.
When our children were young, my parents would often drive to our home and stay a day or two. One evening, by what I thought was God’s prompting, I shared the gospel with Dad. Dad was always helping lost drivers or pedestrians find their way. I shared with him the way toward having a relationship with God through Christ. He patiently and intently listened, and then proceeded to tell me not to do this with anyone ever again. I shared my discouragement and disappointment with Mom who was in the next room. I climbed the steps to my bedroom, sensing the anger of my dad and fully expecting he and Mom to leave in the middle of the might in his disgust.
Early the next morning, before they would be heading home, there was a knock on my bedroom door. Dad came in, sat on my bed, and said these words, “I want to become what you want me to become.” In 1984, Mom and Dad were baptized in the Jordan River. He read the Bible and I remember him asking me a question about Psalm 23:1. He couldn’t understand that if “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” who would not want him? I explained that this good and perfect shepherd provides all that is needed for all of life. We are not in want of anything.
One of the clearest ways God demonstrated his provision was in the gift of my Mom. He loved her and always cared for her. Even as they lived together in assisted care, they were known as the couple that was always holding hands.
Mom held Dad’s hand in hospital during her two-hour visit on Friday afternoon, May 3, 2013. This was his second day in the hospital, and he had remained unresponsive since his admission the day before. She sat in her wheelchair as close as she could get to him. Her first words were, “You are the best looking Air Force officer, even at 95.” She thanked him for him for all the meals, good times, and the time he spent with her and the family. She then prayed for him.
I held Dad’s hand a lot that day and into the evening. Frequently I told him of my love for him and that he need not worry, I would care for Mom. I also told him that if there was anything in my life that brought him disappointment or sorrow, that I was sorry for that, but that I had every confidence that he was proud of me. At 8 PM I needed to leave for home. I spoke into Dad’s ear, assuring him that I was there and holding his hand but that when I couldn't be there, God would hold his hand. The imagery God uses these words to describe his commitment to his people: “I will take your hand and keep you” Isaiah 42:6.
I trust God did just that, as six hours later, Dad entered into the presence of the Good Shepherd.
My dad, in how he lived his life, made it easier to call God my Father.
I miss Dad deeply. The other day driving to campus, I cried. Asking God where all these tears were coming from, He poignantly said, “These tears have been stored in a deep well dug by the remarkable and intimate love you shared with your dad.” Perhaps the tears you shed come from that kind of well.
We mourn, but differently. Our mourning is enveloped in the certain hope of eternal life. That eternal life for Dad began when he responded to the myriad kindnesses of God found in Jesus Christ, Who is the good shepherd, the One Who lays down his life for the sheep.
The Shepherd knows his sheep and whose sheep know him (John 10:11, 14).
Whenever Dad and I would depart, I’d always say to him, “I love you, Dad.” In response, he’d always say, “I love you too. Jesus loves all of us. Dad’s right, He loves us all.
I visited Mom for a couple hours yesterday. She has decided to accept our offer to live with us. Perhaps the most moving moment of many these past number of days was when I told her I could now kiss her every morning at the start of her day and every evening before she would go to sleep. With her eyes that don’t function visually well anymore, they joined her lips as they approvingly and lovingly smiled.