By Rev Dr Richard Waugh
My Dad nearly died many times.
He served as a RAF pilot during World War II when longevity was rare. Later, not long before I was born, he was badly injured in a civil air accident when his aircraft iced up.
When I was three-years-old he had two engine failures in single engine aircraft but successfully landed on rugged South Island beaches.
When I was 10-years-old, he was nearly killed with a double engine failure and crash landing into the Shotover River at Queenstown, close to our home. When I was 15-years-old, he again nearly died from peritonitis.
Suddenly, when I was 27-years-old my Dad did die, while I was in my first year of church and community ministry. I still miss him these 35 years on.
My Dad – Captain Brian Waugh – made a big impression on me, not only his flying adventures, but because he was a good man. He gave us children time with a special focus for each of us; for me it was especially about cars; for my sister music and my brother rugby.
In his younger days my Dad was not especially spiritual; yet he supported my Mum and came to church when he was able. Later in life he made a more deliberate commitment to God, thankful for God’s protection over his life, and became an intentional and growing disciple of Jesus Christ, never missing a Sunday in worship.
I cherish the memory of his prayers at family meal times and encouragement at key times in my early life; when I first started work as a 17-year-old in the motor industry, commending my ministry call and meeting my wife-to-be. All those memories mean a great deal to me.
If your Dad is alive; cherish him, warts and all, as our earthly existence can be surprisingly short and the precious relationship of Father to children – and grandchildren – is so important and doesn’t last forever.
From my own experience with my Dad and my own parenting. I continue to learn much. Especially about regularly praying for my adult children – and first grandchild; spending quality time with them; trusting them and listening to them; and helping them develop a good sense of faith and identity.
In my life I have found, when we are willing, that even in times of trouble and adversity God strengthens us and enables us to have greater compassion and care for one another.
This Father’s Day: Dads – please cherish your children and family – lockdown time together is building some unique memories – make them good ones! Children – cherish your Dads (and Mums), pray for them and listen to their wisdom. It is an invaluable gift.
- Rev Dr Richard Waugh is a long-time church leader in east Auckland, a former Howick Citizen-of-the-Year and absolutely committed to strong family life. He is also an Aviation Chaplain, historian, author and spokesperson for the Erebus National Memorial