Farewell tribute to my father

My father passed away unexpectedly last week, and I haven’t known what to write. I’ve wanted to post something honoring and affirming of him, but creativity is still escaping me. I think I will share a portion of a tribute letter that I read to him at his recent 70th birthday party. Last December our family gathered to honor his birthday and affirm him via tribute statements (the sentiment that was expressed from my mom, my brothers and sister, and all of the in-laws and grandchildren was PHENOMENAL). I presented my tribute in the form of a recommendation letter.

To whom it may concern…to young men everywhere in this generation:

I am writing to wholeheartedly and without reservation recommend my father, David Jackson, to you as a model of noble manhood. For the forty-five years of my life he has never wavered in his commitments to love, loyalty, devotion, wisdom, and strength. These virtues were hard-won. His path was not an easy one. The cultivation of manhood never is, but his path was particularly severe—he was bounced between his father and stepfather as a child, adrift after losing his mother as a teen, buffeted by the social upheavals of his generation, and then drafted into Vietnam while practically still a boy.

He didn’t glide through those times unscarred; no one becomes a man without taking on scars. And nor was he unflawed. His flaws and demons run as deep as anyone’s…but the mark of noble manhood is the willingness to never give up the fight.

As a boy, I watched him model strength, determination, and tenacity, as he changed the course of his personal and family histories. I watched him bear the weight of a community, as he reinvented himself from rebel to guardian angel. And yet the rebel never fully went away.

That’s another mark of authentic manhood—remaining ever true to who you really are. Despite the shifting roles from young husband to father to older man and grandfather, he has remained steadfast to his core, guiding values. I really haven’t ever seen him slip.

He modeled faith and spirituality, and a willingness to repent and heal our family. That takes the most courage of all—owning life’s regrets and then pioneering new realities.

Self-help books abound in our day and age, but noble manhood isn’t something that is carbon copied or mass-produced. If you follow my urging and set my dad as your pattern, you won’t be following a well-worn path. There haven’t been many men like him. In fact, he once told me that there were only ever four truly “cool” men: Elvis Presley, James, Dean, Clint Eastwood, and himself. 🙂

But if you want to follow a trail that winds through great highs and deep lows, through extreme joys and unthinkable sorrows, and then back into sunlight again, his is the path to follow.

As a husband, father, grandfather, woodsman, surfer, poet, worshipper, law enforcement officer, and friend, he has excelled, and I am convinced that he will make a worthy addition to your Noble Manhood Hall of Fame.

I love you, Dad.


33 thoughts on “Farewell tribute to my father

    1. That was beautiful, Chris. Your dad must have been extremely blessed to have heaRd those words from you. I pray that you and your family find healing through your relationship with Jesus, and the knowledge that you will meet again. ♡

  1. Great post! SO glad your Dad heard those words from you. That was a gift from God. KLU!

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. I will be praying for you, Jess, Amber and Maddie, and all of your family. I know his life and impact live on through you, which is a lasting testimony. Gail

  3. Chris, I am so sorry. Much love to you, the girls, and your entire family as you grieve. Peace, Solveig.

  4. Wow that was special. I’m so glad he was able to hear it while he was still with all of you. It must have touched him deeply. Chris I am so sorry for your incredible loss. So wonderful that you will be together again in God’s perfect time 😊

  5. Chris, this was a wonderful tribute to your dad. I will print it out and show it to Uncle Mike. Tell the family I send my love, Barbara

  6. Ahhh Chris that was the best thing I have ever read. I am saddened to hear of his passing. I was really hoping to catch up with you all this time that I am down this way. much love to you and to the whole family!!! Matthew.

  7. Dear Chris and Family,
    Touching tribute. So glad he heard this from you while alive. We pray your fond memories sustain you in the days, weeks and months ahead. It’s so hard to be left behind. Keeping you in our prayers always. Much love from Cambodia, Bridget & Don

  8. So sorry for your loss Chris. I really loved being around him. Most men who exude strength do it from a false ego. When I was around your dad it reminded me of how it may feel to be around Aslan. Gentle and true but untamed. Much love Chris.

  9. Chris, we’ve often thought about how blessed your Dad must have felt on his 70th birthday when you all gathered around to lift him up and show your love for him. Reading what you wrote lifted our hearts! We are so honored to have called him friend for the past 30 years. We love you all so much

  10. Couldn’t have imagined having Jessica’s in laws such precious friends. David was and will always be a delight and joy to know and love. No doubt John was at this welcome home party.

  11. Thank you for sharing your tribute; I’m sure it blessed him. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to know him better but I loved the comparison to Aslan that someone made. Your Dad impressed me as quiet, deep, with a very serious demeanor who could totally surprise you with a flash of humor and certainly NOT a tame lion!

  12. You and your family are in our prayers. You truly emulated your fathers strength and tenasity when in the midst of grief, you preached the gospel when all would have understood you not doing so. Thank you for your example and caring for your flock.
    Praying for the Holy Spirits comfort.
    Ron and Fuchsia Shelstad

  13. Dear Chris, You are your Fathers Son! My heart aches for you and the family for the sudden loss of you Dad. I know first hand that we are never old enough to be ready for the passing of a parent.
    The beautiful words shared about your dad made me wish I had known him. You are in our thoughts and prayers. May the love and fond memories you hold in your heart help ease the pain of your loss over time.
    love and blessings,

  14. I am so sorry my friend. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful, inspiring and honoring. All HIs peace and grace for you and your family during this time.


  15. What an AWESOME tribute to your dad! Cassie, myself and our family will keep your family in our prayers!

    The Lozanos

  16. It is closing in on 2 years. I just saw this again and was reminded of the unique tensions that exist between sons and fathers over their life together. All the warts and wrinkles that bind us to one another and make us more like the father than we want to admit at times. Perhaps that is true of The Father and us too, at least I hope so.

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