Remembering the original Mr. Bailey

My dad left this earth two years ago this summer, but he still lives on. Honestly, a day doesn’t pass that I don’t do or feel something that reminds me of his character or example.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s the way God intended it. His story didn’t end with his death, just as it didn’t begin when he was born. All because we are part of a bigger story, as John Eldredge is prone to say.

I haven’t set out to emulate my dad, but I do every day. I don’t try to be like him in every situation, but I am. Funny how it happens, but in many ways, I am becoming my dad. And that becomes more obvious to me each day I grow older.

One of my favorite memories of my dad is waking up early on a weekday to find him reading his Bible, his newspaper and drinking his coffee, the lamp on next to recliner softly lighting up the quiet, peaceful dark of that living room in the house he built with my mom nearly 50 years ago now. And the house she still resides in.

It’s all about legacy, as I told those gathered back in 2017 to remember the original Mr. Bailey.

On that day, speaker after speaker called him teacher, example, friend, mentor, leader and life coach. Indeed, he was all those and more. But I shall always know him as Dad.

I was blessed beyond measure to share the message of hope and LEGACY and to encourage friends and family to carry on his legacy to the next generation. I was excited to hear some of the stories and meet many of the people on whom my dad had a life-changing impact. He has passed the mantle, handed off the baton and delivered the torch to the next generation of Baileys.

As I wrote recently, legacy is more about the heart than an epitaph. It’s who you are, not what you do. It’s as much about what you don’t say as what you do say.

Sure, my dad taught me how to change a tire, he taught me much about business and he taught me a different approach to sales that I still carry today. But his quiet character and faith, his respect for others and his passion to help people is what lives on in me. And it’s what I come across every day when I’m working with people.

There are times people compliment me and I am quick to say: “I got that from my dad.” There are times I’m moved to do something for someone and I’m reminded, “my dad would have done that.” There have been times that I’m singing down the hallway and I remember how he loved to sing.

Oh, how he loved to sing. Even in the waning years, when his memory faded and the days were shortened, he would come alive to sing the old hymns. Remarkably, while he couldn’t always remember the names of people or perhaps other more trivial things, he could sing the old hymns with confidence. Word for word, melody for melody. They were etched in his heart, not on his mind. Because He Lives, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Onward Christian Soldiers were as fresh in his heart as they were when he first learned them decades ago as a young man.

And he sang and sang until he passed.

This morning, I’m sitting in my recliner, with my coffee, in the still quietness, reading (not a newspaper, but on a laptop), remembering him and sharing a bit of his legacy with you.

You see, you don’t have to share the legacy to keep your dad’s name alive. You are the legacy that carries his name to another generation. Just as #mythreesons Josh, Jason and Destin are my legacy forward.

Sure, I miss my dad this Father’s Day weekend. I long to wake up and find him sitting in the quietness of that house on Moss Hill Terrace Road in Natchitoches. But it calms me to discover, almost on a daily basis, that I am becoming my dad.

And that is a treasure.

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