My father Jagdish Alexander Andrews celebrates his 80th birthday today (9th January 2013). It’s amazing to think that these 80 years have moved as well as they have by God’s grace. I look back in time and realize that I will have the luxury of going back only 47 years in the 80! Dad was born in 1933! You don’t need to be a numbers buff to guess when I was.
As we called him this morning at Calcutta to wish him on this special day, I thought about what a wonderful gift we have in him. So before the day’s end I thought I should put in words some of my reflections and in the process also highlight some moments among the many that have influenced or shaped me.
If Dad would recapture some of his life-principles they might go something like this:
Enjoy the little things – it makes life good
Dad has been outstanding when it comes to enjoying the little things of life. A mid-morning cup of tea and a good conversation are always welcomed by dad with childlike enthusiasm. For him the simple things of life bring delight as much as would the big ones. For instance, he never hesitates in assisting Mom in the daily routines while they live in their home in Mangalore – cleaning, dusting, shopping, etc. He enjoys them!
Respect and care for elders – it makes you a blessing
I remember as a child how my parents made it a point to “adopt elders” into their care – Elders from the neighbourhood, church and those living in the city from other cities and towns. They made it a point to visit them regularly. Mom baked the cakes and biscuits for those friends while Dad carried his violin and we kids sang along. My brother Ashok, sister Asha and I cannot forget the joy of those moments. At 80 Dad and mom (who is 76) continue to visit and care for “elders”
Exercise – it makes you active
At 80, dad still follows his daily routine of physical exercises – daily. No gym, no equipment, no investments, no trainer – but the routine is established and he will go step- by- step through them, daily!
Laugh at yourself –it makes you easy
Dad’s sense of humour has been hallmark. He has had the gift of laughing at himself as much as at difficult circumstances. Those of us close to him cannot escape the twinkle in his eyes when it comes to a humour moment!
Be descriptive – it makes you clear
Dad as a letter- writer is a “description person”. I can almost see some of my colleagues smile! They now know where I got it from !!! In the days before e-mail it was “inland letters” and postal covers. He wrote always with the intent that those reading his words from afar would be drawn near! After the age of Gmail, hotmail and the electronic media dad graduated to using his laptop and since then the descriptions have never become any lesser – but only clearer with the photographs attached! When Mom and he were in the US with my Sister and her family, we got our daily share of mail from dad. In that one instance we were all effectively transported across the Atlantic to feel the moods, hear the sounds, view the scenes in far away America – and all that without the aid of passport, visa or International tickets!
Polish your shoes – it makes you presentable
I have never known a day in which dad failed to polish his shoes. His shirts and trousers are always pressed impeccably. I will never forget the time at which I was speaking at a convention in an Indian city some years ago. Dad and Mom were also there. The meetings were in the evenings and Dad would press my coat and clothes for the assignment and lo and behold! Before I knew it, he had polished my shoes too! Some old habits just spread!
Keep the music going – it makes you relax
Dad’s love for the music of the 50s and 60s is well reflected in the music turned out from his collection of long playing and short playing records and that Garrard gramophone so carefully maintained in working condition over the years. I go back to days in our childhood when he turned the records and we heard Jim Reeves sing, “White Christmas” , Cliff Richard sing “Bachelor Boy”, we well remember that Bobby Darin favourite “Jailer bring me water” , that Presley “Wooden heart” and many others . And yes, his commitment to practice and play the violin. He began playing in public at his church orchestra at the age of 8 and still continues to play in the same church orchestra at 80! What a privilege!
Read your Bible – it makes you wise
There is not a day in my memory of not seeing dad read his Bible in the mornings. It has been his first commitment for the day through the years. I realize that those quiet moments of reflection and thought have carried him through his hard times, equipped him for the challenging times, showed him grace for his weak times and given him wisdom for all times.
Tithe – it makes you glad
In the early 1980s dad quit his senior position in his company (Greaves Cotton and Co) after serving there for 23 years. Dad loved his company so much that if we ever accompanied him to a hotel having been officially included in a company paid dinner, he would tell us on the way, “Eat little tonight because Greaves is paying!” After leaving the company he embarked on a business that cost him his entire life’s savings. While he managed to balance his financial commitments with an overdraft in a current account, I did not know then that Dad still tithed as he did in the days when he had a regular salary! He didn’t even bring the tithe amount down to match the real state of his income then! He was tithing not for what he was receiving but for whom He was receiving it from!
Do it yourself – it makes you comfortable
During my childhood and growing years I have memories of Dad painting gates, grills, doors and even walls at our home. Even to this day if he stays in our home, it will be no surprise to find him using “French polish” to varnish some of our furniture all on his own, without the asking. The end result is always a gloss and finish that is the signature of well experienced hands.
Discipline your kids – it makes them right
Dad never raised his hand at us. There was a joke in our home that he would tell Mom when he would travel that she could give us kids some spanking if needed – but only when he was away. But dad did not need to spank us to “yank us” into obedience. His love was firm and his firmness represented his love.
Trust the Lord – it makes life worth the while!
This is the bottom line! Dad has exemplified this well for us as a family and together with Mom they have lead us children to the stable ground of knowing that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. All through my growing years until I went to seminary I treasured the daily times of family prayer that dad initiated in our home. It was a time we never missed – and a time we will always cherish in our memories.
“Hurry up, slowly” – It keeps you on time
One of dad’s most repeated pieces of advice to the family is “Hurry up, slowly”.
Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s been a great piece of advice, Dad!
It probably best captures a keen eye on life’s goals while remembering that each one has a unique God-given way of getting there.
So, as the day ends and dad walks into the next decade of his life, I pray he has many more great years ahead.
As for us, we will try and help our kids to see that life is worth the living when we follow the Lord. And in a fast-paced, rat-race like environment I will try to live by the principle that there must be time to “smell the roses”. Thanks for teaching me Dad that one does not need to rush because life is fast nor be halted because one is either preoccupied or not inspired enough. As the horizon opens up and each day dawns I’ll try my best with the Lord’s help to be on my way and “hurry up slowly” with joy!
Grateful always Lord!
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord……Ps 112 : 1