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"Grandpa passed away."

These were the words my father spoke to me over the telephone that warm spring Sunday in 1972.

I was an 18-year-old art student in Boston now returning home to attend a funeral—one that I was dreading. It was a somber drive as my sister and I headed south from Boston to the Cape.

I loved my Italian grandfather. In my eyes, he was the man who hung the moon—he could do anything. His life was an inspiration to me.

In 1921, he, along with my grandmother, mother and aunt made their way from "the old country" to America. They settled in Sagamore, a predominantly Italian town located on Cape Cod. Grandpa worked his way up from building stone walls to owning a very successful restaurant and inn, along with 13 acres of prime land. He was respected among his peers and loved by his family.

As a child, I desired to be with him all the time. I tried to act like him, walk like him, even talk like him. Grandpa was my hero.

When my hero died, I was devastated. That day, an era in my life came to an end.

Memories Of Influence
When we arrived home, a flood of memories washed over me as I looked across the field at the Sagamore Inn—the place where my grandfather had lived and worked, the house where he and I had played together.

I missed him terribly. At the time, I wasn't born again so I had a lot of questions and anger and frustration about his death. Grief quickly worked its way down into my heart.

The next day when we arrived at the funeral home for the "all-day, all-evening" viewing, I refused to go in—I didn't think I could handle it. So I just walked around the parking lot thinking about Grandpa. The more I thought, the more I missed him and the more distressed I became.

Finally I eased up to the funeral home door and looked inside. The place was jampacked with family and friends who loved my grandfather. Many people were awkwardly trying to say the right things to comfort the immediate family members.

My grandmother was crying, and my mother was doing her best to console her. As I continued to scan the room, my eyes finally locked on to one person—my father.

I stood just inside the doorway, watching his every move.

He was manning his post by the entrance to the viewing room. Dad was smiling, greeting people, shaking hands and hugging necks. He was the warm host, the "pastor" over this trying event, putting everyone at ease, including me.

Somehow he had managed to climb up over his own hurt and reach out beyond himself to take care of others. He had become a pillar of strength and stability—something I had never noticed in him before.

As I continued to observe him, his example gave me the courage to go inside.

I kept watching him. Soon, I began doing what he was doing—greeting, hugging, comforting, even laughing.

Acting just like my father.

Taking Turns
Little did he know that his example was preparing me for the future. Preparing me to raise a family and pastor a congregation. And preparing me to one day face the inevitable.

That "one day" finally came when my sister spoke to me over the telephone during the week of September 11, 2001, and said, "Dad passed away."

Another man I loved and admired had gone to heaven. The man with whom I had so much in common was no longer just a phone call away.

Dad and I had shared a "Far Side" sense of humor, both of us were artists, and we loved spending time together. When I would visit during Christmas or summer vacation, we would go for our "traditional drive," always stopping first at the post office, then on to pick up a newspaper. Finally we would park by the ocean and spend time catching up on the latest or reminiscing about the past. But those days were over—at least until we are reunited in heaven.

"Dad passed away" marked the end of another era in my life.

Things would never be quite the same. Now my family was looking to me for the strength and stability my father once provided.

And thanks to my dad, I was prepared.

When we arrived at the church for the funeral service, I purposely stationed myself at the front door. I smiled and greeted Dad's friends as they came into the church. I shook hands, hugged necks and endeavored to make everyone feel welcome and at ease—just like Dad had done at Grandpa's funeral.

As I did this, many people looked into my eyes and said, "You're just like your father." It was the ultimate compliment, and one of the greatest honors I've ever received—to be just like my dad.

That evening, I was able to do for my dad what he had done for Grandpa over 30 years ago. I became a pillar of strength for family and friends to lean on.

It was something I learned, just by watching my dad.

During one of our last "traditional drives," I shared with my dad how I had observed him at Grandpa's funeral and the profound effect it had on my life and ministry. I shared how it transformed the way I reach out to people in tough situations.

I so remember his surprised response.

"George," he said stunned, "I don't even remember how I acted that day. And on top of that, I didn't know you were watching."

Think about it.

He didn't know I was watching.

Little Eyes Are Watching
How frequently do you think your own children have studied you without your knowledge?

We often don't realize what powerful role models we are. Our children watch our every move. They observe us and study our mannerisms. They note how we handle ourselves in the good times and tough times. They learn by our example.

So, dads, I would like to ask you to make a commitment today to let everything you do reflect the heart of God. Speaking kind words, reaching out to others and displaying joy in your home are just a few of the life lessons your children learn through observation.

The Bible says we are to, "Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]" (Eph. 5:1 AMP).

Don't look now, dad—but you're being watched. Your children's eyes are upon you. So make sure what you are doing is worth watching. And remember, you are preparing them for their future.

Source: From Believer's Voice of Victory
by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland
Excerpt permission granted by Kenneth Copeland Ministries

Author Biography

George Pearsons
Web site: Eagle Mountain International Church
From the first time they met in 1975 to today, Pastors George & Terri Pearsons have been building a partnership based on a foundation of faith. They became the pastors of EMIC in 1993 and have been going strong ever since. Together, they are a one-two punch to the devil.

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