Life Lessons from Jim

Today was the second funeral service for my father-in-law, James Dale Wallace. If you never got to meet him, let me just say now: you really missed out. He was a wonderful guy, who showed me a father’s love when I came to love his daughter. I wrote the funeral meditation for the services, and as a tribute to Jim, I’m posting it here.

I knew I’d fit into this family on the day I asked for Jim’s permission to marry his daughter. I was very nervous, and when I asked for Jami’s hand in marriage, he responded with “don’t you want the rest of her?” It was his way of putting me at ease, letting me know he approved, and giving me insight as to the kind of family I’d be joining… all in those few words. Jim taught me a lesson that day, and I’ve been paying attention ever since. Here are some of the other Life Lessons from Jim that I’ve learned. Each lesson will tell us a bit out Jim’s life, a thought from literature, and what I’ve learned.

Jim was a drummer(2 Samuel 6:5 – “David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.”) I remember when Dad played with the praise band at First Presbyterian… he had the biggest grin on his face! Even though he hadn’t played for years, he jumped right in, and laid down a good foundation for the group. Jim’s life lesson from the drums: keep the beat of your life steady. Be constant in who you are.

Jim was a printer(Bureau of Labor Statistics – Printing machine operators, also known as press operators, prepare, operate, and maintain printing presses. Press operators install the printing plate with the images to be printed and adjust the pressure at which the machine prints, ink the presses, load paper, ensure that paper and ink meet specifications, adjust the flow of ink to the inking rollers accordingly, and feed paper through the press cylinders and adjust feed and tension controls.”) There was a LOT of complexity to Jim’s profession, but he did it well, and had the respect of his peers. Jim’s life lesson from the printing press: don’t be afraid of the complex, but use it to inform others. When faced with a situation, work through it and use it to better your life and those around you.

Jim loved trains and puns (Proverbs 22:6 – “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”) Dad loved his model trains, but all the time I knew him, he never really got all of his gear set up. That didn’t seem to bother him, though – he enjoyed his hobby even though he didn’t get it completely set up. Jim’s life lesson from model trains: keep things in scale, don’t get derailed, and enjoy the trip.

Jim loved people(Titus 2:7 – “In everything set them an example by doing what is good.”) Jim did this; it’s a rare thing when both the closest people in your life, and the girl who works the drive through at your favorite fast food place are shaped by your presence and stunned by your loss. Jim’s life lesson from loving people: bring joy to those around you, and set a good example.

Jim loved family(1 Chronicles 16:43 – “Then all the people left, each for his own home, and David returned home to bless his family.”) It has been said that “the man who seldom finds himself in hot water is the one with a wife, several daughters and one bathroom.” This sounds a bit like Dad’s life, but he was loving and caring and pretty darned patient with all of us. Jim’s life lesson about loving family: encouraged those who are close, and don’t tear down anyone.

Jim’s Life Lessons have helped to shape me as a man, and I’m a better man for his role in my life.

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1 Response to “Life Lessons from Jim”


  1. 1 Amy Custer October 31, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing Ed.Give my best to Jamie.


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