Written by 11:17 pm Blog

A Father’s Legacy

A few weeks ago my biological dad passed away. Kent Kyle was sixty-nine years old when he departed. I didn’t know him very well. It wasn’t for a lack of trying over the years. I made attempts to start a relationship with him during my adult life, but none of them seemed to go very far. The last time we spoke, he told me not to get my hopes up too high because he would disappoint me. That was in 2017. I’m not here to spill dirt on my dad because, frankly, I don’t know much about him apart from the sporadic contact we had over the years. When I wrote my first book, Recreated, I said I have no ill will, and nothing has changed. I’ve never been consciously angry with him for his absence. At the funeral, I met some new family, and at least for my part, I think we hit it off well. Radene and I spent a few nights in Mississippi and shared meals with them, stories, and all the things you’d expect. Some big gaps got filled in for me. Not all of them, but I think enough.

Since then I’ve been processing. Nothing earth shattering, but for sure finding closure on unresolved things that his absence created. Here’s what I learned about Kent Kyle. In a nutshell, he was easygoing, nice to everyone, a musician, and he loved the job he had at the mall in Tupelo. The man everyone was describing to me seemed like the kind of neighbor you’d want to have. I was glad to hear that. The musician thing explained a thing or two. Until I found out he played music, I had no idea – genetically speaking – where my love of music came from. Now I know. In fact, I inherited a couple of his instruments. The acoustic bass guitar in the photo for this article is one of them.

I’m not a super sentimental person. If you feel sorry for my loss, I appreciate that, but I need to be clear on the fact that we hardly had a relationship. His stepson, Marcus, and his wife and children were his caretakers for the last leg of his life, and they are grieving more deeply than I am able. They are the ones truly wrestling with loss. However, I am his son, and I’ve thought a lot about legacy in the wake of his death.

Someone I love texted me when they learned of Kent’s death. The text read, “there are things you will be released from with Kent’s death.” No specificity, but this person knows me well and as long as we’ve known each other, the LORD has accurately spoken like this many times. I’ve learned to listen. What those things are is still unfolding, and are personal enough that I don’t think I can share them right now. But, I’ve asked myself this question several times now: what legacy am I leaving my kids that they will need to be released from after I die?

Great question. I think it’s better to ask this now and anticipate, than to depart for glory and leave them to figure it out. Everyone leaves a legacy, for better or worse. What am I passing to my children that benefits them? Is there anything that will be harmful to them? I’m sure that every single parent is passing mixtures of these, even different between each child.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
-Proverbes 13:22 (ESV)

I’m not going to get preachy about this. Nor will I focus on material inheritance (frankly, because I’m not wealthy) or the wealth of a sinner being for the righteous. Every parent should keep the first half of this verse close to your heart. Unless the LORD does something completely different in my life, the largest inheritance I will be leaving my children and grandchildren is the expression of my faith in Jesus. I can’t actually give them my faith, but I can express it, demonstrate it, talk about it, and make sure that they know where my first love lies. I can raise them up in the fear of the LORD, and He will use that to do the rest that I could never do: save them.

I can say at least this about Kent Kyle. Even from a distance, I received a legacy from him. Many of the nice things said about him, over the years I’ve also had said about me. I’m likely a musician, and hence in part, a worship pastor because he imparted a musical talent that I’ve nurtured. He may not have been present, but in those ways, he was always present. I’m grateful for that legacy. With my children, I want to impart even more. They’re grown now, but this is just the beginning. I mean, they’re finally entering that phase of life where I’m not as dumb as they once believed. The sky is the limit.

Thanks dad.

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Last modified: July 6, 2023
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