Sunday, September 29, 2013

Remembrance of a Good Father

Remembrance of a Good Father
by Rev. Greg Schermerhorn, September 29, 2013

Today, I remember my father, Dr. Nelson William (Rick) Schermerhorn, Jr. of Snellville, GA (1942-1994).  You see today, September 29th is the nineteenth anniversary of his home going to be with the Lord.  My Dad was a young man, not much older than I am now.  He was fifty-two years old and died of natural causes "before his time" as we tend to reckon it.  My Dad left everything behind:  his much loved wife and my mother Lee; me; my brother Brian and his wife Denise; and my sister Marybeth who was still in college at the University of Georgia.  He also left behind a successful veterinary medical practice, American Heritage Animal Hospital.  He left it all behind.  I can attest that none of it went with him into eternity.
Dr. N.W. Schermerhorn in dream car - Mercedes 300SL Gull Wing Coupe
Dr. N.W. Schermerhorn in dream car -
Mercedes 300SL Gull Wing Coupe
My father had been sick for many years with an undiagnosed ailment, as far back as the early 1980's.  I remember he just didn't feel well, but he kept on working and seeing various medical specialists.  No one seemed to know what was going on with his health.  One day, one of his doctors, before any diagnoses had ever been made, suggested to him to get his "affairs" in order.  My Dad's health created a fair amount of stress in our family.  I know that my mother was worried about Dad's health and the seriousness of this unknown condition that was having such a profound effect on him.  One day, he found a doctor, an oncologist I believe, who was able to finally diagnose him and devise a treatment strategy.  Without divulging all of the family medical history, please allow me to leave it at my father had a significantly compromised immune system.  A problem that required constant monitoring and strategy adjustment.  In the end, we found out that his immune system was more compromised than we thought.  Nineteen years ago today, after being in an induced coma in ICU for twenty-four days, he died, unexpectedly.

Lee and Rick Schermerhorn - Christmas 1993
Lee and Rick Schermerhorn -
Christmas 1993
Rick Schermerhorn loved my mother and showed that affection to her and to all of us children.  He gave us an example of how we were supposed to treat a lady, and how a lady should expect to be treated.  He loved the practice of veterinary medicine.  He truly loved the animals...dogs, cats, horses, and cows.  He liked most of the pet owners and truly loved some of them.  My Dad did love people.  He was a counselor at First Baptist Church in Snellville, where he later became a Deacon.  He had a heart for helping others and for sharing his faith in Jesus Christ.

I started spending a lot of time with my Dad at his office when I was six.  When I was twelve, my father gave me my first job.  He started me at $2.00 an hour, and that was a lot of money to me.  I was in high cotton and had more spending money than any of my friends.  I really liked working with my Dad.  He told me stories about growing up, college, and other things that I never would have heard if I hadn't spent that time with him.  I was
Marybeth, Brian, and Greg
Marybeth, Brian, and Greg
fascinated with the various surgical procedures and other treatments we performed at his hospital.  One thing I was not so fascinated with was all of the cleanup duties.  There was a never ending supply of cages and kennels that needed constant cleaning.  From the time I was six until I was twenty-four, I may have spent more waking time with my father than anyone else in my family.  Now, believe me when I say this:  I look back at that time with a lot of fondness and happy memories, but I also remember that there were times that work problems followed me home and home problems followed me to work.  That being said, I prefer the rose colored glasses version of the past than the one with all the reality mixed in.

My father was a disciplinarian and ran a pretty tight ship overall.  Being the oldest of three children had its privileges, but it also had its pitfalls.  If you are an oldest child, you can probably
Greg, Lee, Marybeth, and Brian on Marybeth's wedding day
Greg, Lee, Marybeth, and Brian on Marybeth's wedding day
identify with my statement without explanations...if not, ask your oldest sibling. :)  Did I get in trouble?  Yes.  Did I push the boundaries?  Yes.  Was I one to test the waters?  Yes.  I can assure you that I deserved every whipping I received...and then some.  I won't comment on my younger siblings.  Both my parents exercised great love in care in our rearing.  They did everything they could have done to give us the best, godly foundation anyone could have hoped to receive.  They sacrificed their wants and desires to make sure that we received what we needed.  They demonstrated delayed gratification to us instead of the world's "get it now" instant gratification.  They demonstrated tithing and sacrificial giving.  As a pastor and evangelist today, the things my parents did for me get me excited.  I am VERY thankful for what they did for me...thankful to them and thankful to the Lord!

Rick and Marybeth - Dad and Daughter<br />eyeballing each other
Rick and Marybeth - Dad and Daughter
eyeballing each other
Selfishly, I admit that I wish my father had lived least to see Marybeth and I both get married.  I believe he would have loved my sister's husband, Mark, as well as, my wife Kate, just as he did love Brian's wife Denise.  Seeing Brian graduate college and get married made my father very proud.  He was also very, very proud of Marybeth when she became Miss University of Georgia in 1994.  It was all he could talk about that Summer.  I love my Dad because he first loved me.  Yes, that sounds a lot like 1 John 4:19 doesn't it?  (We love Him because He first loved us-1 John 4:19)  But here's why:  we were made in God's image.  We only have the capacity to love because of God, in the first place.  Second, we can only love God because He literally first loved us and further demonstrated that love to us... "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).   God's love is why He sent His Son, Jesus to Earth to bear the punishment for all of our sins.
Schermerhorn Family Christmas 2002 -L-R-Mark, Marybeth, Nelson, Lee, Lauren, Denise, Brian, Kate, and Greg
Schermerhorn Family Christmas 2002 -L-R-Mark, Marybeth, Nelson,
Lee, Lauren, Denise, Brian, Kate, and Greg
My father touched a lot of lives, many more than I ever thought possible.  His funeral filled First Baptist Church Snellville on a Saturday, even in the midst of football games and fall festivals.  To this day that one final thing about my father's life moves me...even though he was already in Jesus' presence.  It was a comfort to me and my family to know that his life had touched so many people.   The headstone at his grave bears this inscription:  "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7"  I have little doubt that my father heard from the Lord, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord." (Matthew 25:21b)
Schermerhorn Coat of Arms
Coat of Arms
So, if you knew my father, Rick Schermerhorn, think of him and remember to pray for us as we will be doing the same tomorrow.  Also, thank God for the godly examples He has put in your life, be they parents, family, pastors, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or the dearly departed.  God is GOOD!!!  Well, on second thought (to borrow a line from The Old Paths) no, God's GREAT!!!