Over the past 14 years of this column I have tried to avoid the personal side, although I'm sure there have been exceptions. But now I bare my soul and heart to those who care.
In late November my father died. We all lose parents, and I know I'm not alone. I get it. Move on with life, they say.
But this Christmas season I have my own lesson that I have learned, and I will share it with those who care to read. It is a message that has run throughout the ages, but it never ceases to be one we can all learn again.
A "king" can come amongst a crowd, and if he is truly of greatness, he can come almost without notice. That was the case in Bethlehem so many years ago, and it remains so today.
To be clear, my dad was not a king. He was, to those who knew him, more like an emperor. He was successful and wise and very intimidating. Not Donald Trump successful. More like Fred Trump successful. Nevertheless, he was a businessman whose acumen and ability were admired by many, and whose tough approach earned its share of detractors.
He could be tender or stern. No shocker there, given how many other parents born in the years of the Great Depression meet that same description. He built companies, bought real estate, sold holdings to publicly held companies and never owed a single dollar to anyone. He was brilliant and my hero.
But, oh, how he despised politics! On the day I won the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Georgia many years ago, he told me bluntly that I had accomplished nothing. "Politics is for nobodies," he said. That sentence stuck in my mind forever.
The day I was sworn into the Georgia House of Representatives the weather was bad and the parking was lacking. My mother made it to the House gallery to see me take my oath of office. My dad chose to leave before the ceremony. The place was "crowded with people wasting their time," he declared.
For the most part he was right.
Don't get me wrong. I loved my father, and he loved me, too. He was a deeply caring and generous man. I was his only child. And with his guidance I left politics, immersed myself in business and am blessed with all that I (hopefully) will ever need, all because of him.
So many people in politics, business and entertainment view themselves as virtual "kings" because of their self-important, inflated egos.
In reality, true kings are humble. They are loving and giving. They would likely have traveled great distances to worship a baby in a manger had they lived in such times. That brings me to a mourner.
A review of those who had signed the list of attendees at my father's funeral included scores of friends and family, all equally beloved and important. But one name, a person who went unnoticed by me during the service, caught my attention.
Despite having mild and very manageable Parkinson's disease, this person drove himself to the funeral alone.
Despite being a senior member of "the world's most exclusive club," the U.S. Senate, he came without security or staff.
He never announced his arrival or his departure. He had come as a humble mourner, lost in a crowd. He gained nothing from being present. He was there simply to respect a friend's passing.
Trust me, no matter what your politics, we need men and women like this in public office, lest they all abandon that noble cause of public service -- ironically, the one for which my father had little use.
We need more "kings without scepters and splendor": true servants in life, quiet mourners in death.
The man's name? Some might guess it, but it really doesn't matter. What matters is that in this day and age of politicians, business leaders and entertainers consumed with their titles and trappings, good men and women can still be found among them.
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