The small child froze in her footsteps and slightly cocked her head to listen more carefully. What was that sound?
In the stillness of the hallway near the family bedrooms, she heard it again. It sounded like a low, mournful cry ... a soulful weeping.
Knowing that her daddy was the only other person home, she tiptoed silently and slowly toward his room, filled with concern and curiosity. As she drew closer, the little girl could see that the door stood slightly ajar. She gently pushed it open just enough to peer inside.
A sense of holiness permeated the air, and in an instant her impressionable young mind and spirit were impacted so deeply that she would embrace the memory of that moment countless times throughout her life.
I was that little girl, and what I experienced that day some 30 years ago would forever define my father and guide my faith.
In the solace of his room, I saw my daddy kneeling beside his bed weeping and praying from the depths of his soul for one of his young patients. As the sobs and tears flowed freely from this great man, I lingered for a moment in breathless awe as I felt my faith in God soar beyond my own understanding.
My Papa Doc, as he affectionately became known in his later years, was a Johns Hopkins educated pediatrician. He was the epitome of the brilliant, loving physician often portrayed in Norman Rockwell paintings. His commitment to his young patients was all encompassing, with the end of a long day's work often finding him immersed in medical journals so that he might remain on the cutting edge of treatment advances.
Much more than a practitioner and student of medicine, my dad was a man of God. And on that day many years ago as I peeked into his room to discover the source of the mystical sound, it became clear that my daddy relied on the awesome power and wisdom of the Great Physician to guide him.
This past week, my father died.
I wish you could have known him.
Dad lavished love and comfort on tens of thousands of children over a career that spanned nearly 45 years, with 38 of them spent in Lakeland, Fla. Had he not been limited by age and illness, Dad would have chosen to care for and serve his patients forever. His immense compassion for the hurting and the lonely were a reflection of the Christ that lived in him.