Note to my readers: Many of you know that my daughter (Dr. Samantha Nix) has sent me several questions for me to answer for her, her siblings and my grandchildren. This is just one more of those questions that I felt deserved to be published here.
Probably the greatest story about my father is that he was a man with HUMILITY like no other modern man I can think of.
According to the dictionary: Humility – a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.
Dad was a man of God and this is probably why he showed such humility or humbleness.
What does Jesus say about humility?
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
Why is humility important to God?
Humility allows us to fully submit to God
God wants us to acknowledge that apart from Him we can do nothing. He is the one who knows us, the one who created us. He has a plan for each one of us. When we begin to put all of our faith in God, we humble ourselves to the point of being completely dependent on Him.
I will tell you 3 times I remember dad showing his humility …
The First was when I was about 14 years old and Eddie (my brother) was probably 12.
Eddie had spent the night with one of his buddies, Danny. Apparently, Danny’s dad, Tom, was somewhat of a drinker and when he came home from drinking was sometimes relatively mean to his family.
That night Tom decided that Eddie and Danny had done something that deserved punishment so he punished both of them. I don’t recall exactly what they had done but do know that Eddie came home and told dad, because Eddie did not feel they needed to be punished for whatever it was they had done. The next day, Dad took a walk to Danny’s house to ask his father why he had punished Eddie. The idea was that if Eddie deserved it … he was going to get it again when Dad got him back home.
This story was relayed to me. I was not there.
Apparently, dad knocked on the door and Tom answered it.
“What the Hell do you want,” Tom asked?
“I just wanted to know why you punished my son,” Dad asked?
The next thing I heard was that Tom got all up in my dad’s face and started cussing him and threatening to do the same to him if he did not leave him (Tom) alone. This is something that I, at age 14, would have struck an adult for … He would surely have felt the pain of my knee into his groin!
But dad, simply smiled and said something to the effect, “I forgive you and God will if you ask him to.” And with that he walked back home with his head held high.
When I heard this story, I was so furious and wondered why my dad was such a damned coward.
The Second Time I remember dad showing his humility was toward me when I as about 15 years old.
I had fallen “head over heels” for a lady who lived in the trailer park. And she, as she led me to believe, felt the same way about me. She was the sister of a close friend of mine at the time by the name of Sandy. The problem was that Sandy was 23 (I was 15) and she was married with two little children of her own. Her husband was a mammoth of a man – a race car driver – and I was definitely afraid him of finding out about our relationship, but loved the risk and adrenaline of it all. I don’t believe he ever did find out or I may not be here to talk about it.
However, my dad did.
One evening I put on some good clothes (the kind I would wear on a date or to church) and told mom and dad I was going to spend some time with my buddies. Mom and dad were watching TV. Dad stood up pointed his finger at me and said, “Boy, I better not catch you at the married woman’s house.”
I got furious. How the hell did he even know about us. Must have been my brother. Could not have been my sister – she was married and out on her own since she was my age. But it couldn’t have been my brother … we were too close more like friends than brothers … he wouldn’t say anything, I was sure.
“How do you know about us,” I asked?
“Never mind that,” he retorted, “I know and I forbid it.”
I pushed my dad back to the couch he was sitting on. He jumped up with fists clenched and asked, “Boy, you wanna go at it with me?
“Old man,” I said, getting all up in his face, “You better back down before I knock you down. You have no right to tell me who I can and cannot hang out with.”
With that I saw a tear roll down my dad’s cheek and he just turned around, shook he head and went into his bedroom – I guess to cool off. Any other time if I sassed my mom or dad, I’d get an open hand to my lips … but not this time. Just a tear and him walking away from me.
I left the house and went two streets over to Sandy’s to tell her what had just happened.
She apologized to me for ever getting into a relationship. I don’t know but I think my dad may have said something to her as well, without my knowledge. I do know that three days later her and her family moved out of Illinois to California and I have not heard from her since.
I do know this: That one tear I brought to my dad’s eye by acting the fool had a lasting impression on me for my entire lifetime. It did far more for me than if he would have slapped me or gut punched me … which I deserved … and kicked my butt on the spot … which he probably could have done easily.
In that one act he taught me to be humble and have humility and how that was much greater than having a mean streak and wanting to get into a fight every time the opportunity availed itself to me. This did not end my fighting days while in high school … but it certainly lessened them.
I can remember times while in the military, even while in Vietnam, when I would often think of my dad and the humility, he showed to everyone he came in contact with. I wish I would have remembered dad’s actions the night (while drunk) that I almost killed a man for flirting with my current wife (though she wasn’t at the time). Dad was not an outgoing type of person. He had his belief system in-tact and would argue his points from time to time … but I never saw him strike a person. He was one, for sure, that believed in “turning the other cheek,” and I needed to learn to do that more often.
The Third Time my dad showed me and the family and others his humility was when he was dying in the hospital. I was not there and this story was relayed to me by people that were there. I actually arrived at the hospital just before my dad drew his last breath and was by his bedside with my mom, my wife and my daughter, Samantha.
Dad retired at about age 65 and decided that he should have by-pass surgery performed. He’d had a heart attack when he was about 59 (living in Texas) and was told by his attending physician that he’d lost 40% of his heart’s capacity and that he was not a candidate for by-pass surgery. However, he’d been talked into it by a doctor in Alabama and decided to follow the doctor’s advice.
From the time of the surgery dad’s health really started to decline and by the time he was 69 he looked like he was about 99. It seemed that every major organ in his body wanted to shut down. I remember when dad was in his 30’s he came down with a disease known as histoplasmosis. This is an infection by a fungus found in the droppings of birds and bats in humid areas. It is not serious if confined to the lungs but can be fatal if spread throughout the body. Dad had worked on a chicken farm as a kid, and this is where the doctors determined he must have picked up the disease and it lay dormant in his body for several years.
Back in the 1960’s this was a rare disease to be found in human’s and there was no known cure at the time. Because there was no known cure … it had spread throughout my dad’s body and had him pretty close to death. The doctors had given up after several experimental drugs and the only thing left was prayer from a prayer group at the church my mom and dad attended. It must have worked. It seems that my dad slept for days (every time mom got permission for his kids to visit him in the hospital – he was asleep).
Then one night he woke up after the prayer group and spent some time praying for him and asked if he could have some Bacon and Eggs. Dad had lost a lot of weight and did not weigh much more than 80 pounds at the time. He was given a feast of bacon, eggs and biscuits and his health started to improve until he had that heart attack when he was 59 years old.
Of course, no one wanted to blame the failing of his organs on the heart surgery he’d had … and all pointed fingers to the experimental drugs that had extended his life by several years, until they no longer did.
Dad turned 70 years of age on April 3, 1999 and he died on May 8, 1999. Ironically that was 51 years to the day after he’d met my mom (they married on June 20, 1948) and they were able to spend their 50th anniversary on a cruise the year before he died.
In April 1999 my dad knew his days were numbered. He was in and out of the hospital. He knew he was dying and he never questioned why. He never blamed the doctor who did the heart surgery or the doctors who 35-40 years earlier had pumped him full of experimental drugs.
I do remember his doctor telling my mother that, “Even though Mr. Nix knew he was dying he was more concerned that I’d made my heart right with God than he was his own death. I admire your husband for that,” he said. I guess Dad was that way because he knew where he was going to end up and wanted to make sure others around him ended up there as well.
Now some people will simply say my dad was a “religious zealot.” However, I know him as a man with a modest or low view of his own importance who cared more about other people than he did himself. He was a man of HUMILITY and Humbleness.
Humility is defined as “the quality or state of being humble.” It is also a “modest or low view of one’s own importance.” Most importantly, however, humility is being “free from pride and arrogance.” My dad most certainly was free from both pride and arrogance.
We should all strive for Humility in our lives and this blog post from All Things Life tells us why.
Well, there you have it, Samantha. My favorite Story about my dad. Sorry it was not one story but rather three … but they all had to deal with one subject … his Humility.
I Love You,