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"My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person; he believed in me."--Jim Valvano
Thank You for allowing Al's family and friends to gather around the world in remembrance of his life, the one You created. We ask You to be with us during this time. Place Your hand of comfort and peace upon us and flood our souls with grace. Help us to celebrate Al's life in a way that honors him and his contributions to our lives. We thank You for giving us this man and eagerly await our reunion with him in Heaven. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Video of Al's Life
After my father's passing I longed to sit down and scatter all of my pictures of him across the floor, spending time with each memory. Unfortunately, we are currently in between military stations and our personal belongings are in storage. As such, I don't have all the pictures and videos of my dad that I would like to in order to fully document his life. My mom sent me a box of pictures from home, and I had a few images on my computer, which I was able to use to compose this film. Once we have our household goods unpacked, I would love to edit this montage to include his baby pictures, childhood, siblings, time in the Army, his wedding to my mom, Travis' birth and graduation from Basic Training, and when he first met his grandson. My dad appreciated black and white photography (a love I inherited), so all of the images have been filtered to his liking. Now, let's take a look back at Al's life.
If you're reading this and you didn't have the pleasure of knowing Al Ross, you're about to meet the man who I called Dad. Actually, in my teens and young adult life, people close to my father told me that I never really knew my dad. I missed out on the best of his personality because it was jaded by several unsuccessful back surgeries, which led to addiction, which led to a lifetime of challenging circumstances. I've decided not to pretend that my dad's story was a perfect one. God allowed his struggles for a purpose, and we may never know the reasons while we're here, but they make up my dad's story. One of love and forgiveness. I am eternally grateful for the life of my father, for through him, I have learned to practice and offer both.
During the difficult years, my family often reminisced on his true nature: funny, witty, athletic, sociable, and charming. However, I can vividly recall exactly that man from my early childhood. I remember our daddy-daughter dates, trips to the movie store, dancing with him on the coffee table, and his wildly magical stories at bedtime. I recall him telling me "I love you" every single day and showering me with praise in all of my endeavors. He was a proud daddy and happily flaunted his lack of humbleness in that area. He made sure I knew that he supported me and believed in me at each stage of my life, whether it was my ten year old aspirations to be an olympic track star, or my career as an educator, or my desire to move across the country and marry a man in the military.
As I grew up, his light dimmed; yet, pieces of who God designed my dad to be would float to the surface and shimmer ever-so brilliantly. I heard it in his voice each time he heard mine on the other end of the phone. I experienced it when we sat down to play a family game, his competitiveness taking over the pain. And most of all, I saw it when he interacted with Adeline, making her giggle as a baby and teaching her to play pool as a little girl. I know exactly who the Lord intended him to be and I cannot wait to embrace that man as I enter Heaven's gates one day.
Since his death, I have been overwhelmed with peace understanding that as a believer in Christ, my dad is redeemed. Regardless of his past, his chains are broken (Hallelujah!) and he is free. How exhilarating is that fact?! That no matter what failures sit in our past, we are promised forgiveness, and washed clean of our sins. There is true comfort knowing that my Father in Heaven loves my father on Earth so intimately that He was willing to sacrifice His one and only Son so that my dad could spend eternity in Heaven with Him. After all, my dad was created in God's image and sent to this world for a unique reason that only he could fulfill. My dad was worth the sacrifice--you are worth the sacrifice! In this life, it is all too easy to get caught up in judgment and personal assault, losing sight of that knowledge--the reality that each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made, purposed, and desperately loved by the Creator.
During this Easter season, I spent a lot of time teaching Adeline about the true meaning of the holiday. She learned that while Jesus was nailed to the cross he asked God to forgive his persecutors because they did not know what they were doing. Separately, Addie and I learn a new Bible verse together each week. Last week she chose Ephesians 4:32: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." During our study of that Scripture, she connected the idea to the cross, reminding me that Jesus asked God to forgive the men who put him there. From the heart of my daughter and the mouth of Christ, I challenge you to forgive. And love instead. If Jesus can forgive what was done to Him, and we are to walk in a way pleasing to Him, then we should do the same. Let's show each other the kindness that God commands. That would bring my dad true peace and happiness, if he could be one to foster mercy and spread the action of love. In memory of my dad's life, would you be willing to do just that? Is there someone you need to forgive? Then do it, simply. Or, is there an act of love you need to show? It doesn't have to be grandiose, only genuine. Think about it. Pray on it. Act.
"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." --Colossians 3:12-14