I have been silent these past weeks. My parents recently moved to a senior residence. Once Dad was assured that Mom was settled in, and I had just had time to hang pictures on the wall, my father passed away.
This newsletter is quite personal, and I share my faith in Jesus Christ. If this turns you off, now is the time to close this email.
So, here goes for a politically incorrect and totally genuine TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.
I am trusting in eternal life.
My father, Al McDonald, died last Thursday, one week before Thanksgiving. I am trusting in eternal life that is a gift through Jesus Christ.
It is with sad but grateful hearts that we commemorate the extraordinary life of co-founder Alonzo (“Al”) McDonald, who passed away this past week at the age of 91. Al’s remarkable life included service as CEO of McKinsey, President and Vice-Chairman of the Bendix Corporation, White House staff Director for President Carter, Deputy Special Trade Representative, and Harvard Business School faculty member. Al also founded and chaired the McDonald Agape Foundation, and served as founding Chairman of the Trinity Forum, which he helped launch with Os Guinness in 1991.
extract from The Trinity Forum newsletter
Click here to read the tribute to Al McDonald by author Os Guinness.
Dad himself wrote about his faith in three essays printed by The Trinity Forum. You can get free copies (scroll down on this page for instructions):
Trusting in eternal life means believing that the best has just begun. I consider that eternal life begins NOW…and the best experiences we have in our life here on earth are merely signposts of our life after death. Life as we experience it daily resembles the light of a lamp, whereas life after death is like basking in sunlight.
I am trusting that my father is in the best time of his life ever!
Grief is real. We grieve because we love and were loved. What a privilege to have shared tenderness with my father throughout various times in my life. I am grateful to having loved, to continue loving, and to be loved.
Here is what I learned from my father:
You don’t try, you don’t get.
Opportunities come to those who take risks. Wise risk-taking centers on identifying your personal perspective on potential gain and potential loss.
Dad spoke of decision he had made where colleagues had focused on the discomfort (moving internationally with young kids to a country speaking a foreign tongue) or the downsides (leaving headquarters and the center of power).
He had seen and sought out challenge and growth opportunities…and choosing the less travelled road made all the difference.
My dad embraced life through learning. He devoured books. He sought opportunities to go out of his comfort zone. And he only settled for excellence. If we could do better, then why settle for less.
When he read our report cards, his tone of voice changed from satisfaction to questionning when an “A” turned into an “A – “! Yes, he put on pressure to perform!
Maybe in reaction to this intensity, each of his four children chose a career path quite different from his. And yet, we each integrate love of excellence, hunger for understanding, and wonder of life.
…and sometimes that means being weak.
For the first half of his life, my father sought strength through power. He reached his level of professional success through exceptional strategic intellect, political savvy…and some bulldozing.
When I entered college, my father’s faith in Jesus Christ had a transforming impact on his life. Before, Dad “did the right religious moves.” On Sundays he was a respected church member. Yet, during the week, he forged forward, sometimes leaving debris on the wayside.
Then he chose to follow Jesus. Not just to proclaim allegiance, but to put his beliefs into action. I remember a special dinner when I was in college. He asked for forgiveness for the mistakes he may have made as a father. It’s not that he suddenly became Mr. Nice Guy and immediately adopted non-violent communication tools. It was a beginning of a new trend, of seeking strength through humility.
The end of his life is crowned in tenderness.
Dad had two things read to him the day he died. The Bible and the lunch menu. He loved God’s word and fine dining.
We are having a party to celebrate his life and legacy. I am soooo looking forward to being with people he loved and to cherishing his memory and their company. It’s bittersweet…and also fun.
I am taking time off from these TGIF letters. We can be so busy doing. Doing our work. Being busy.
I want to take some time to be. Sip tea with my mom. Bask in sunshine. Celebrate Christmas, family, and life. Clarify priorities for the new year.
Let’s stay in touch. With love and appreciation,
Thank you for this tender tribute, Denise. I never had the joy of meeting your father in person but know parts of his legacy which reflect his character well! ‘Looking forward to sunlight’ is a powerful perspective. With love, Ranjeet & family
Thank you Ranjeet. I was just corresponding with your father regarding your mother’s legacy in my life. Our Trinity Forum connections indeed feel like family. Congratulations on your promotion. I saw it mentioned on a prominent newspaper (WSJ?) Managing billions! Exciting…and comforting to know they are managed in hands with strong values. Wishing you well.
Denise, I stumbled across the very brief obituary in the WSJ and knew immediately that it had to be your father. I hope that your celebration of his life was abundant in blessings for you and the rest of your family. Wishing you God’s peace and great joy as we celebrate the birth of His Son.