on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

A Timely Visit

This post is part of a series, “Lessons from my Father, Lewis Marler.”

One of the earliest memories I have of my father was when I was about four years old.

My father, mother, sister, and I were eating dinner in our kitchen. My Dad and Mom were talking and I heard my Dad say, “After dinner, I need to go back up to the church.  Tonight is visitation night.” This meant it was a designated evening when the pastor and deacons met at the church to visit prospective or elderly members.

When I heard my Dad say he would be leaving and going visiting that night, I blurted out innocently, “Daddy, why don’t you come visit us sometime?”  There was silence at the table.  Nothing else was said.

My father left a few minutes later, and I went about playing as usual.  After a little while the doorbell rang.  I ran to the door, opened it and saw my father standing there.

He extended his arms and said, “Hello Malcolm, I am your father, and I have come to visit you tonight.”

I threw my arms around his neck and he lifted me off the ground and hugged me hard!  It was a hug that turned into a hold, if you know what I mean.  I had been missing my busy father and he heard me.

I learned later when I was an adult that he had left home that night, gone to the church and told everyone he needed to visit with his family that night and left.  He didn’t give them an explanation, he just did it.

All I knew as a four year old boy was that I had the undivided attention of my father when I needed him most, and that is all that mattered.

So what did my father teach me?  What life lesson did I learn?

Family relationships trump everything else when needed.

Have I always done this as an adult, no, I have fallen short at times.  But this is one of those stories I need to remember because I knew what it felt like to be on the recipient side.

And what about you? Have you heard the request for time from someone who is important to you?  What are your relationship priorities?  Do you make adjustments when needed?

Relationships matter.

My father taught me so.


My father, Lewis Marler, was born on July 23, 1921 and died on May 26, 1998.


  1. Mary Tittle

    I’m guessing you had tears in your eyes when you wrote this memory of your dad. I know I did while reading it….

  2. Malcolm

    Dear Mary, yes, this is one of those stories I keep coming back to for all these years. We never know what being present and paying attention can mean at just the right time.

  3. Carol Henderson

    I used part of this story as a writing prompt with a group today, Malcolm, and wow the stories folks came up with about timely visits. Maybe a few of the writers will vist your site, too. Thanks for a powerful message.

  4. Malcolm

    Hi Carol, I really appreciate you using this story with one of your writing classes. I am honored. When I see you in the coming month or so, I’d love to hear about it firsthand.

    Peace to you.

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