Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Daddy's Girl...

My father died a week ago today and I'm left with a pretty sizable hole in my heart.  After a short battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis/Amiodarone Pulmonary Toxicity (brought on by the drug Amiodarone that was prescribed for atrial fibrillation) he succumbed to the disease leaving a heartbroken family who lost a great man much too soon for our selfish preferences.

Born June 2, 1932, we celebrated his life and legacy on Saturday, August 21, 2010.  My precious children-in-law, Nichole Broome and Steven Gompers, shared beautiful songs in tribute, and I spoke for a few minutes about the man I called "Daddy".  For friends and family who couldn't be with us, here's what I shared:

Daddy was a mess! The dictionary defines “mess” as something that is disorderly or untidy—and that surely isn’t the kind of mess he was—in fact, he was just the opposite, so the reason I use “mess” has little to do with its actual meaning and is much more about an idea and if you knew him well, you are following right along with me, and you can probably hear his voice saying, “You are a mess!” if you ever made him laugh. He truly was the only one of his kind in captivity.

Daddy was such a mess that sometimes 'he didn’t know which one of the boys he was'. He told us often that he felt like he was sent for, couldn’t go, finally went and wouldn’t do. At other times, he was down with the con-soni-bonilitis and that was a big mess. When three little girls vying for his attention were all yelling, “diddy, diddy!,” he always answered us, “no he didn’t!”. And if we said, “Daddy, guess what?” without hesitation he responded, “the higher you raise a mule’s tail, the better you can see his butt.” Ponder that picture for a minute.

All of Daddy’s boys were girls—and as the eldest, I will be spokesMan. So for just a couple of minutes I want to talk about three traits that define our Daddy and our sweet Mama’s husband: Life, Laughter and Love.

Daddy lived life with a carpe diem kind of seize the day attitude that amazed. The baby of ten, we often imagined him as a little boy who had to work hard to get noticed because the “cuteness” of little kids had probably worn off by the time he came along. Undaunted, Daddy made his mark in the world by determining to conquer and complete whatever he made up his mind to do.

All of Dad’s brothers and sisters graduated high school after completing 11 years, but as Dad’s 11th grade year drew to a close, the state of NC decided that to really be smart enough to graduate, there should be 12 grades. In his mind, that was grossly unfair so he decided not to get a diploma and show this dumb state what they could do with their new requirement. He moved to Charlotte, got a job as an apprentice electrician and thought that would be that, but a wonderful agriculture teacher who had a particular fondness for daddy, drove to Charlotte and convinced him to move back to Peachland and finish high school.

As young girls, we loved looking through Dad’s high school yearbooks, especially enjoying the knowledge that our Dad’s nickname was “chicken.” The father we knew was anything but that, he was our brave hero and earned a Bronze Star during his time in Korea that proved it! He could do anything and knew everything—and if he didn’t know, he made something up that sounded so good we believed him.

When driving somewhere didn’t get him to his destination quickly enough, he took flying lessons so he could pack us into a little Cessna and take us exploring. When a Charlotte District Court judge decided that Daddy’s girls would be bussed across town rather than attending the school we could walk to from home, he protested that decision by founding a private school in our neighborhood that he built from the ground up with the help of like-minded neighbors. The letter he wrote petitioning for Valleydale School’s charter was so impressive that the response came back addressed to “Attorney Glenn Horne”. That 12th grade served him well!

Daddy lived life by seizing every chance possible to demonstrate his love for his family and there were evidences of that all around our home. He was a life-builder and even our backyard play house reflected that—it was wired for lights and sound and built by loving hands that were never too tired from a hard day’s work to keep him from doing the things that he set out to do. If he had any idea what Kathie was doing out in that playhouse though…but I digress…

Daddy took us places and showed us things that were important to him and always entertained us along the way with stories that may have occasionally been ever-so-slightly embellished, but made us heehaw anyway. He had nicknames for our friends and back in the day entertained them and us by bringing home a bucket truck to give us rides up above the trees. He had no idea that Lisa was pocketing some cash by charging her friends for their rides, though!

Laughter was the soundtrack of life with Daddy. Not long after they were married, Mama cooked dinner and set the table in her finest Martha Stewart fashion. On the center of the table there was a large metal spoon in the green bean bowl and silverware beside their plates. Suddenly, the spoon in the bowl started dancing—and Mama starting freaking out a little. Then, the silverware started to move around. Daddy fessed up when she was visibly shaken, pulling out a huge magnet that he was balancing on his legs under the table.

A couple of years ago Mom called me to tell about a religious experience she thought she was having as she watered the plants on her back porch. A bumblebee was buzzing by her head and suddenly she felt certain that his buzz was to the tune of Amazing Grace. She looked up into the heavens, confident that God was giving her some kind of special encounter and stopped what she was doing so that she could be sure it wasn’t in her head—sure enough, the tune Amazing Grace was buzzing in her ears. She dropped her watering can and ran to tell Daddy to come and listen only to find him on the lakeside porch with a kazoo—humming—you guessed it—Amazing Grace!

He made friends with inanimate objects like a rabbit statue in a beach house we once rented. He named her Esmerelda and she became a part of that year’s vacation. He never got too old to laugh and play with some of his toys. He loved his talking Bubbas and his gobbling turkeys and was famous for lots of what we lovingly refer to as Glennisms. When we got a scrape or bruise as children will, he always sympathetically said, “That will feel better when it quits hurting!” At restaurants, we knew that his order was always going to be either hummingbird livers on rye or a peananer rocious on a super gobsloscious depending upon his appetite. Waitresses loved him!

LOVE was the theme of life with Daddy. He loved LOVE themed music like “I’ll Be Loving You Eternally,” a song that was his love song for Mama that we played for him on his last day and when he could no longer speak, he still puckered his lips for one last kiss as he heard that music and her whispered reminder of love in his ear.

He was a man who didn’t just show it, he said it. Never once did I visit him since getting married 31 years ago that he at some point he didn’t say, “I love you Sandy Kay.” or, “Does George know how much I love him?” or, “I sure do love those babies!” or, well…you get the picture.

On Sunday as he was telling us all how much he loved us for the last time, I couldn’t help thinking to myself, "I said, self," I hope he knows that we’ve never doubted that for a second because he’s made sure every day that we knew.

There is only one person that Daddy loved more than his family and that was his Lord and Savior. More important to him than pulling out pictures and bragging about how cute we all are (or were) when talking to someone (and he talked to everyone) he’d more than likely pull out his business cards and tell them how they could get to know the love of his life, Jesus Christ.

In the last years of life, he spent his energy sharing his faith. I told my sisters that one of the most endearing things about Daddy was that where he was, was where he was. If he was talking to you, he was looking you in the eyes, concentrating on you—the most important person in the world at that moment, instead of looking around the room to see if there was another better or more interesting conversation to be had. He was a masterfully skilled communicator who never seemed insincere when he was sharing his heart of love with someone, and I’m convinced that’s the reason that nurses who only knew him for a few days fell just as in love with him and came in after their shifts ended to spend time at his bedside and came back to the hospital to cry with us as he was dying.

One of them was a nurse who cared for Daddy last year after he fell out of the infamous pear tree, chainsaw in hand. She had heard he was up in CCU and wanted to come by and tell him that he had touched her life like no other patient. Her words to us were that he looked her in the eyes and asked her if she was okay. She found herself telling him that she wasn’t—really—and he told her how she could find the joy that she needed for life in spite of her troubles. She never forgot that, and she never forgot daddy—and she wanted him to know that he made an indelible impact on her life and in her marriage. She said, “he didn’t know me at all, but he genuinely cared.” His care was born out of his love for His Savior—a love that was so compelling that he couldn’t not care.

While going through some of Dad’s mementos and keepsakes, we found a folded restaurant placemat—he was quite an accomplished placemat artist by the way—and on it he’d written a poem that reads:

Just to know that our love has lasted almost a lifetime

Keeps joy and thankfulness on my thankful mind

We savor all the good times and let go of the bad

And to know our daughters can still call me “Dad”

Are just a few of the reminders of the blessings I have had

God has been so good and

I have always known that with me He’s always stood. Signed, G. Billingsley Horne

After he retired, Daddy designed his new and improved business cards. They featured praying hands on the left and his name and address on the right along with his favorite Bible verse, John 3:16. He always kept one ready to hand out to anyone he struck up a conversation with who needed encouragement or wanted to hear more about God’s love.

On Wednesday night, I picked up the Bible he read every day and randomly opened it to a page with just one highlighted verse…

Matthew 25:21 (New King James Version)

21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

This morning, he is there with His Savior and his loved ones who had gone before him, still celebrating life—ETERNAL LIFE—that was bought for him on Calvary’s cross when he asked a resurrected Jesus Christ to be his forgiver and leader. Daddy HAS entered into the joy of His Lord! And the thing he’d want me to ask every person here is will you be there with him one day? And are you sure? Because if you aren’t, you can be. His favorite verse John 3:16, explains how that’s possible. It reads: For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life.

Our family thanks every one of you who has prayed for us, mourned with us, rejoiced with us and celebrated his life with us today, and I would be negligent if I didn’t ask one last question for Dad—will your legacy be like his? Will you live life fully, laugh hard often, and love God and people extravagantly? Because that is how best to honor the memory and legacy of my Daddy, Glenn B. Horne…


  1. Oh Sandy, what a wonderful tribute to your daddy. My heart hurts for you right now. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story of love. I didn't know your dad, but I know he had to be wonderful to raise such a great girl.

  2. This is beautiful! I wish I had known your dad personally! Praying for you still and for your family still! I love you!

  3. What a wonderful tribute to your daddy. I didn't ever get the honor of meeting him personally but I see his love shinning through you & I know he would be so very proud of this tribute. I'm continually praying for you. If you ever need someone to listen just give me a call any time day or night. I know how hard it is to lose a parent just know he is not suffering any longer.

  4. What an absolutely beautiful post about your daddy. I of course have not met your dad on this side of heaven, but what struck me is how many of the attributes you described about him remind me so much of what I see in you. His love for Jesus Christ, passion for sharing about Christ, his love for family - his gifted communication and ability to make you the most important person while talking to him!! So many of his traits is what makes you such a loving and precious person to get to know. Praying for you as your process your grief!