I call my dad, Jerry Marshall…mostly behind his back. To his face I call him Daddy, Dad, Daddy-Papa, and occasionally, Jerry Marshall.
First, that’s his name.
Second, he is a character. Calling him by his name helps me distinguish him from the “dad” category to the “one-of-a-kind” category. I know, you’re not surprised I am his daughter….
He’s infamous for having a pocket full of trinkets to take out and play with at any given time. These trinkets include things like magnets, ball bearings, small magnifying glasses, rubber bands, or anything small and fidget-able. There is no distinction of when the appropriate time to whip these things out would be, so they make an appearance just about anywhere, anytime.
If you drop by his house he won’t spend time talking to you. He will, however, say hello and then wash your car while you are visiting. Having a relationship with him when we live an hour away is challenging because his way of showing love is acts of service and the occasional gift (typically paying for something or handing me a wad of cash). He is a proud collector of random stuff, usually acquired from the dumpster. He makes special trips to bring us things that we may or may not want or need. Most recently we gained a skill saw and two (yes two) old bugles in their carrying cases. Never a dull moment!
Jerry Marshall also brings people home. During my childhood, my mother was always maneuvering to accommodate an unexpected stranger. When I was very little, he brought home a blind man to live with us for a few months (I can only imagine my mother’s face!). A stranger is a friend to Jerry Marshall and therefore they are extended an invitation to attend all manner of events.
Nothing has changed.
Recently, I invited my dad to come spend the afternoon with us. I knew that I wasn’t going to be home until about 2:00 p.m., so I told him to shoot for arriving at 2:30. At noon I got a call from him saying he was in town. As I reminded him of my time frame he was unconcerned and informed me that he was going to Jack-in-the-Box to eat. “Okay Daddy. Whatever you want to do is fine. I will call you when I am on my way home.” About an hour later I got another call from him. This is how the conversation went…
Me: “Hey, what’s up?”
Jerry Marshall: “So, I met some nice people at Jack-in-the-Box and they need a place for their dog to stay tonight. I told them that she could stay with you. Is that okay?”
Me: “(silence)———–Ummmm, what?”
JM: “Yea, they are really nice people who are staying at a hotel tonight and they just found out that they can’t have their dog with them. She’s a sweet 12-year-old wiener dog and she’s deaf.”
Me: “Dad, I don’t know these people. They are going to come to our house and leave their dog with us! Dad…Samson is a very big puppy and I don’t want him to hurt their old wiener! What if he plays it to death!? And how do I know that they are not just trying to get rid of their dog?”
JM: “Oh Season, it’ll be fine! I will just have them follow me over to your house.”
Me: “Sigh…ummmm, okay Dad. I will let you know when I am on my way home.”
You should have heard the battle raging in my head! I was frustrated with him, totally inconvenienced, and absolutely in love with his heart all at the same time. His love for strangers and his willingness to help ANYONE at ANYTIME put my selfishness on blast! As I pulled into my driveway there were two cars, my dad’s, and the strange couple’s car. It was a nice car so my fear that they were homeless was put to rest. As I entered my home I was met by my husband, Dad, Mr. and Mrs. Beer, and their 12-year-old fat, senile, deaf, and matted long-hair wiener dog, Misty. Mr. and Mrs. Beer were easily in their seventies. They were in town from Arizona to attend their grand-niece’s wedding at a winery. They were sitting on my couch with wide eyes and big smiles. We reassured them that we would take good care of Misty and they only needed to concern themselves with having a great time with their family. As they got up to leave, the elderly gentleman had tears in his eyes as he hugged my dad and said to me, “This man has restored my faith in humanity. I can’t thank you all enough.”
All was well. We didn’t even know Misty was in our home. She was quiet, sweet, and stayed mostly in her kennel. Thank God Samson, our 100 lb, 29 inch, six-month-old Irish Wolfhound puppy was on his best and very gentle behavior!
When Misty’s mommy and daddy came to pick her up the next day, we heard all about the wonderful wedding and family reunion. Such gratitude and joy.
As I write this, Jerry Marshall calls. I shared that I am writing about him and how his heart to help anyone at anytime has inspired me. He laughed and said, “Well, you don’t have to help everyone, but there are nice people in this world and it doesn’t hurt to stop and talk to them.” I then asked, “How did you even come to meet them, daddy?” To which he replied, “Oh you know, I just offered them some tacos.” Of course he did.
Jerry Marshall is Jesus to so many. He is not inconvenienced by people. He truly loves them. I will put away my inconvenience for the sake of others. I want to help to restore people’s faith in humanity.