72 is the new 40!

5-30-13 PNA Hammock Griffin Cookout

Happy 72nd Birthday to my dear OLD dad today!

And in the school-yard spirit of “my dad is stronger/cooler/better than your dad” taunting I just wanted to give a few moments of feedback and memories proving that if not necessarily cooler, stronger or better than your dad – my dad is at least in a close race!

Mr. Phillip NEAL Alligood (yep that’s right, this is where I get my own personal title from) was born October 11th, 1941 in Washington, NC – not “little washington” mind you – but instead THE ORIGINAL WASHINGTON!

IMG_0321 PNA Boy 1

After 48 years of working for MACU – he is STILL GOING STRONG – I’m not sure I have ever met anyone with a stronger work ethic than my earthly father.  In fact when I think of him, 4 descriptions immediately come to mind – Sacrificial, Servant, Sense of Humor and Sincere!

Sacrificial & Servant sort of go hand-in-hand, I have benefitted greatly from growing up watching this GREAT MAN of FAITH be the exact sort of servant who is willing to sacrifice so much for the sake of so many.  He is a shining example of what JESUS embodied.  Preaching in weekend roles at numerous smaller rural churches that often didn’t have much to offer financially and all the while working more than full-time hours at a small Bible College/Christian University to see that it would survive and be able to continue to successfully serve the Kingdom turning out workers for the Harvest.  I’ve very rarely, IF EVER, heard him complain about the often predicament filled plight of the path he felt called to plod.  He merely went about his business and not only did his job – but did his job not for the dollars earned, but with excellence of one serving his Savior.  I cannot comprehend or begin to calculate the thousands upon thousands of acres mowed, the miles of walks he has edged (even if it was at 7 AM to the dismay of neighbors nearby!!), thousands of sermons preached, hundreds of hospital & home visits he has made.  It was not merely his duty, but his PLEASURE to serve and to serve well.  If a job was worth doing (no matter how big or small) it was WORTH DOING WELL – to the BEST of ones abilities.

Sense of Humor – well this one almost goes without explanation for ANYONE that has ever crossed his path.  The quick- wit and sharp mind, that was no respecter of persons, has filled the air throughout the years with much laughter.  With a child-like innocence his humor, while at times has caused some awkward moments and uneasiness when someone wasn’t sure how to take him, has so many more times been able to tear down walls and barriers and put people at ease when a situation was ripe with tension.  I am so thankful for the handed down humor trait which permeates our family bonds – it truly is a great part of what makes us WHO WE ARE and most definitely WHO I AM today!

Sincere – coming on the coattails of the above listed sense of humor, this trait could often get lost, unless you know my father well.  There is no one more sincere when it comes to being able to take him at his word.  He has never been one to throw around flippant flattery and even in episodes where a bit more tact could have been interjected into the instance – the fact remains that one always knew where they stood in dealing with my dad.  When he had to call you on the carpet for something you had done, he did so with the intent to help and rectify the situation.  This also meant that when he congratulated or praised you on a job well done – you could absolutely TAKE THAT TO THE BANK.  There was never any concern as to him sugar coating the truth, and that sincerity is something lacked greatly in this day and age of political correctness and having to walk on eggshells around everyone’s feelings.  Being able to sit ringside to his ability to laugh and joke and be silly in so many settings – only to also get the gift of watching his heart-stirring passion for preaching the powerful WORD OF GOD allowed me to see, experience and learn so much about the vital importance of infusing SINCERITY into all areas of life.  There is a loyalty, commitment, concern and caring that comes from this deep-seeded aspect of sincerity in his dealings with people.  He may have embarrassed or harassed you just a bit while exposing you to his wide open sense of humor but in the next moment you felt the safety of his sincerity as he dealt with the important issues of your life.

I am blessed to have the memories of dad’s amazing work ethic, yet the ability to still make time for fun.  The years of family beach trips, even though we knew how much he hated sand and was missing mowing his acres of grass at the college.  The fishing trips and time just spent together with nothing else going on – the times he tried to get me to like hunting but it was WAY TOO EARLY in the morning and required WAY TOO MUCH QUIET for a little boy who loved to talk.  Playing football IN THE HOUSE when so many other kids were told not to throw a ball inside, how much more I am able to appreciate him crawling around on his knees on that hard floor so we could play tackle in the den and he would be more my size on his knees.  The love and passion he passed down to me for sports, being there for baseball and basketball games and teaching me the importance of giving you best and playing to win but respecting other teams and players.  The no doubt about it – passion for preaching the POWERFUL WORD of God is another blessing that I am appreciating more and more each year.

In a difficult recent period of my life I have gained an even greater respect for him as a Faithful man of God, a wonderful husband and tremendous father.  As I’ve walked through the uncertainty of whether or not it is God’s will for me to fulfill all these same roles as my own dad, he has given me a great target for which to aim if I am ever afforded the rich blessing of being a husband and a father.  There is great anticipation yet also a hint of anxiety to know if I could ever fill those same shoes as well as he has.  But then I am reminded of the bounty of blessing of dad being my example and just trusting the Lord (another lesson learned from he and my mom) that God will provide exactly what I need and when I need it.  There is a myriad of mixed emotion when I think about the possibility and the reality of the uncertainty of that next phase of life, but I am learning to be more patient due to my own dad’s life-long ability to fully rely on the Lord.

For all of these 4 factors and so many other powerful aspects of my fathers personality I am truly thankful – and I believe that my dad, on some level, might just be better than yours!  It is also why I am inclined to believe that 72 might just be the new 40!

Happy Birthday Dad – I am truly thankful for your influence, guidance & wisdom and impact on & in my life.  I can truly say I am better for having grown up with you being the earthly embodiment of my Heavenly Father and as Paul uttered the words in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “imitate me as I imitate Christ” – I firmly know that I can imitate you as you have been a quality imitation of Christ in my life!

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4 Comments

Filed under Family Stuff, My So Called Life

4 responses to “72 is the new 40!

  1. Joyce Phelps

    Phil & OraJane became like my parents when I started going to Holly Neck Church in 1978. They both are very special people to me & always will be! I hope he has the best birthday ever! Tell the ole man I said Happy, happy, happy Birthday!

  2. Neal, what an awesome tribute to your Dad. He always could tease me and make me laugh so hard! Love him much! Happy Birthday. Denise Wood

  3. Travis Hunter

    Happy Birthday Mr. Alligood! May you be blessed on your special day and may God give you many more years.

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