Saturday – September 1997 – a perfect Fall afternoon for a 10 year-old. This moment in time changed my life and I will never forget what I am about to tell you. My dad and I are in the backyard playing football. A game that technically does not exist, we created the legendary game titled 4 downs. In this game, you have 4 football downs to make it 100 yards to score a touchdown. On this particular day, it was just him and I – Marybeth (my sister) didn’t make it outside to play all-time defense.
As you might have guessed – yes – I was always Jerry Rice, and my Dad was Steve Young, the all-time quarterback. It seemed like we had been playing for hours. Dad threw several perfect spirals that turned into diving touchdown catches in the corner of the end zone to beat the evil Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl. In case you were wondering – every touchdown catch was sure celebrated like it was the real Super Bowl.
After what seemed like an hour, my Dad pulled me aside saying “Son, come here for a minute”. “What’s up, Dad?” I replied. He said – “WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR?”
I don’t remember my response to his question but I will never forget what he said next: “One day, you are going to grow up, get married, and have kids. Your kids are going to ask you to play with them. Your beautiful wife will ask for your time and attention. Your kids might just ask you to watch them achieve a milestone moment like landing a back-flip on the trampoline or making the game winning 3-pointer in the basement. Every time your family asks for your attention – you give it to them. You will always have excuses. There is always laundry to be done, dishes that need putting away, a yard to be mowed, or bills to be paid. Those things are far less important than your time with your family. I want to be remembered as a man who loves God, loves his family, and loves others. Giving people your time and attention is one way to do just that.”
We talked for a few more seconds and quickly found our way back to the excitement of game-winning touchdown catches in the backyard.
Fast-forward to August 13, 2012. Dad was out on a run – like he was on most other Monday evenings. This run was different. He unexpectedly had a massive-heart attack and didn’t beat it this time. He lived to be just 51 years young. Dad left behind his lovely bride, two kids, his parents, brothers, sisters, co-workers and over 100 best-friends as he went to be with Jesus on that day.
I often think back to the mid-game conversation we had, and how powerful it was. Not because of my Dad’s words. He was a fantastic communicator, but that had nothing to do with it. What still impacts me today, is the fact that my Dad lived according to his words all of his days. Rex David Kreger lived an intentional life. He knew what he wanted his legacy to be, and he lived according to it every day.
Dad’s funeral was full of people that loved him. In confidence, I can say that more than 100 people claimed that they were best friends with Rex at his life-celebration service. Person after person came to my Mom, Sister, and I saying how he listened so well. He made you feel like you were the only person in the world. He dropped everything he was doing to give all of his attention to the one in front of him.
Rex David Kreger was not a hypocrite. He gave his energy, time, and attention to those he loved. He loved God, loved his family, and loved others with excellence.
Let’s be more like Rex today. When we do – we can lay our heads down tonight knowing we lived for a worthy purpose.