Three times during my professional writing career I’ve asked my dad “I’m not making much and I’m not sure I’m having any impact. Should I give it up?” To which he responded each time, “No, this is what you do.” He understood that no matter my efforts, whether it be a play or a skit or a review or a column, each was comprised from a Christian perspective, and that it was my mission to witness through the written word. He was supportive of my work in several ways, including being a spellchecker when I managed to stymie the electronic one. Well, Dad passed away on February 29, leaving me at a loss for an understanding spellchecker, but assured of my mission.
P. D. Boatwright was devout in his faith, loyal in his marriage, gifted in sales and caring of others.
Mom and Dad had just celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary on February 17th and it can truly be said that they had become as one. Having survived the Great Depression, they married when he was 18 and Mom 17. Soon after, Dad enlisted and went overseas during WWII. Upon his safe return, he promptly found a job with the National Cash Register Company and worked as a salesman and branch manager for 30 years, after which, he ran the business end of a company he and I developed, Christian TV News, and finally, he sold advertising for our present venture of 24 years, The Movie Reporter.
Dad had a gift for selling, but the gift wasn’t just that he knew how to get around objections, including that killer for most novice salesmen, “I’ve already spent my advertising budget.” From going out with him so often on business calls, I found that his success stemmed from a true belief in the product he sold. He felt his product, be it a cash register machine or a family film guide, would truly benefit his customers.
Mom and Dad built a life together. They bought a home, raised a family and contributed to the community through church and civic organizations. When my sister Ginny was born, they rededicated their lives to the Lord and from then on, our family became involved in church. And as I grew up, we began each day reading the Bible and kneeling in prayer. To this day, that is a regiment I have maintained in an effort to reverence God and to remind myself to keep Christ centered in the day. This I learned from Dad.
Late into his 90th year, Dad’s health declined. Though he was not in pain, his body got weaker each day, his work on Earth nearing an end. Becoming an effort my mother simply couldn’t handle at 89, the family decision, with dad’s okay, was that we place him in a nursing home. While at the facility during that less than two-month period, he witnessed to most every employee there, wanting to make sure they knew the Lord.
He understood that we are mental, physical and spiritual beings. Of course, the spiritual aspect of our makeup often gets the short end of our day. That, to him, was wrong. Everything else is temporary, while the spirit lives on and therefore should be given priority.
Because of his faith in Christ Jesus, Dad didn’t fear death. He even kept a sense of humor clear till the end about this mortal coil. One evening as I sat with him, he looked over at the door and thought he saw someone standing in the entry. I looked over my shoulder and saw no one. I asked, as only a son who is also best friends with his dad can, “Does he have a scythe?” Just as quickly, he retorted, “Yeah, and he’s all dressed in black.”
That may seem a little dark on the part of my comic sensibilities, but I thought it was revealing of my dad’s nature and our security in the Lord.
Many nonbelievers have argued over the years that a belief in a hereafter is man’s way of dealing with mortality. But Dad reasoned that because there is a spiritual aspect to man’s nature, the theory “when you’re dead you’re dead,” didn’t hold up.
My dad also understood that it’s not important that the temporal becomes lost in the sands of time. In the terminology of a sports manager, we should be playing for the Coach, not the stands. The fans forget. God doesn’t. “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17).
Since he witnessed to all in the nursing home, I’m sure he would not want anyone reading this to miss out on a relationship with Christ. If you have not yet committed your life to our Savior, please don’t put it off. Some, like my dad, get to live a full life; others, like my sister, are taken in their childhood, and even singing stars like Whitney Houston, can meet with an untimely fate. So, don’t put off what’s truly important.
One evening during his final week, I sat at his bedside, him dozing, me working on an article. Out of habit, I asked him, “How do you spell peers as in ‘One of my peers’?” Weakly, he looked over at me and quietly said, “Two e’s.” So, now I’m in a quandary. I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, but, oh, how I’m going to miss my spellchecker.