Usually heroes are heard about through a television clip, radio blurb, or news article. Not true for this hero. This is a guy who had humble beginnings - few know the street he grew up on, few understand the kind of work he has always done, or the hobbies that occupy his extra time. Yet, in spite of being “normal”, this hero is quite popular.
Who is this caped crusader? It’s my dad – Jerry Kaiser! He grew up in what is known as the Germantown area of Louisville and has been in production management for almost 40 years in the food industry. His hobbies include gardening (not that rare) and raising/showing pigeons (that’s different).
So why write about him now? Well, it’s not because my dad just became my hero recently, but the past few weeks have served to remind me why my dad is one of my heroes. You see – trying times show the character of a person much like squeezing a toothpaste tube shows you what is really inside the tube…toothpaste! A few weeks ago my parents were able to go on vacation with my family. We had a wonderful time and made a lot of memories but the day after we returned my dad found out he lost his job. As a man in his late 50’s losing your job doesn’t exactly launch you into retirement anytime soon. Rather, it raises questions, brings up fears, and pushes you to the limit. Oh… unless you’re my dad. I’m not saying it’s not hard but just let me share with you some of the events that took place on the last day he walked into work.
- One of his bosses in customer service said “If the chance lends itself, I want to work for you someday!”
- One particularly “rough around the edges” guy cried, hugged my dad twice and said “This company is losing a REAL man.” He pointed at my dad and in front of other men complimenting my dad saying “He is the most influential person in my life besides my pastor and my wife.”
- The lady who worked in the human resources office and has been in an office setting for decades commented, “Jerry, you are the most influential person I have ever seen in a company”. She then asked if she could just hug my dad as a way to say goodbye.
- The Vice President shook my dad’s hand and told him “Of all the decisions to make, the hardest was deciding to let you go.”
- One guy recently told him, “You’re the kind of dad everybody needs” while another man told some co-workers “I’ve had more conversations about being a dad with Jerry than anyone else.”
WOW! Those are the statements made about a hero! Those statements only explain part of the tears people shed on that last day. They don’t share that my dad has carried around a piece of folded paper in his pocket along with a pen so he can write down anyone’s prayer request and then seriously pray for it. Those statements don’t share that he’s been to see countless people in the hospital. They don’t share that even in his last full week of work before we went on vacation he shared the gospel with a guy at work. They don’t share that at a reunion held by the last company he worked for, with several bosses and company owners present, a faint cheer became a roar shouting “best boss, best boss, best boss” – all for my dad!
Now you see why he’s one of my heroes? While even doing his job as a production manager and being known as a great employee he is better known as a great man. One who is characterized as being a great witness for the Lord and a caring family man. People seek his advice. People want to be around him. People love my dad and I do too! I think to myself: Would people notice if I left? Would people say similar things about me? Would people cry if I had to say ‘goodbye’? When the tough times of life come and I’m squeezed would I respond like my dad who sees this as another journey he gets to start with God? Whew… I’m not sure that would be the case. But it is for my dad! He’s a hero to me because he models what real men, real Christian men do. They love God and they love people – and that’s my dad!