We called him “Pops.” He was a grand old man. He started his own auto parts store in Dallas, Texas in the 1950's. He now enjoyed a comfortable retirement. Just out of college, he lived just behind us off Lindale Street in Mesquite in Dallas. Getting to know him was such a pleasure. Often, Kathy and I enjoyed sitting at his table for dinner with our three little boys. Pops and his wife enjoyed life. Pops’ wife, Nola, was such a dear! Eating her Southern fried chicken was a culinary highlight embedded in the pleasure center of my brain still to this very day.
What made Pops and Nola so unique is that between the two of them they had buried three spouses. Pops’ first wife died of cancer. Nola’s two husbands died as well. Pops had plenty of money, but he chose a humble lifestyle preferring to use his money to help his four sons succeed in business. Much of his money went to his church and charitable pursuits too. What stood out the most about Pops and Nola was just how happy they appeared. In spite of their losses they enjoyed life! Even in disappointments they squeezed the most out of every day.
Pops once said to me those many years ago while I was a young man in my early twenties, “I’ve made a lot of money, but the most important thing in life is relationships not stuff! At the end of the day when you die, it’s only those around your bedside that matter.” Pops modeled his passion for relationships from all that I could tell by watching him live.
One day we got news that Pops wasn’t doing so well. Age caught up with him, and he was dying. It would be any moment. So, I paid him a visit in the hospital. Upon entering the room, well in fact, there really wasn't any room to enter. I couldn’t get into his room! There were just too many people crowded around Pops. His four sons sat around his bed talking with him. Nola was there. Some of his grandchildren were there too. Friends stood and visited with him. As sometimes is the case when people die, Pops had a surge of energy just before he left us. It was like an element in the old incandescent light bulb. Often, just before it burned out, the element brightened before it popped as its light abruptly ended.
In Pop’s brightness, everyone was there with him. They talked, they reminisced they sang, and they prayed. Then Pops closed his eyes for the last time in this life. Pops words rang true, “I’ve made a lot of money, but the most important thing in life is relationships not stuff!” Pops was surrounded by one of the most joyous scenes I’ve ever witnessed in my life. He is probably one of the richest people I’ve ever known. The final expression on his face as he left this life confirmed this truth of his life.
The Most important thing in life is relationships not the stuff around us.
Just My Thoughts
From the book Just Get Me Through This Day! by Dr. D. J. Mingo
Don was born in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having served twenty-two years in South Africa as missionaries with his wife Kathy, and eight years pastoring in the United States, he shares unique perspectives about life, family, relationships, and ministry.