Did You Know that “It’s a Great Day to be Alive?”

This post was originally written August 6, 2010 – and exactly one year later – August 6, 2011 – my sweet Daddy went Home. This year I will be in Georgia with Mama on the 7th anniversary of his homegoing, so I thought I would re-post some of his poetry in fond remembrance of him. Enjoy!

What’s left when you begin to lose your sight, your memory, your health? What remains? I believe it is one’s ESSENCE. The True You – the Core of God’s Unique Creation that is YOU!

My Daddy, who is 86 and suffering from macular degeneration, dementia and frail health, has always been a man who chooses to look on the bright side and be an encourager to all around him, a man who communicated eloquently and often through both the written and spoken word, a man of faith, adventure, gratitude and generosity —an amazing musician, humorist and storyteller.  Today, even with his limitations, he is still the Same Man. While spending a week with him in assisted living in my hometown of Thomasville, Georgia, he must have told me he loved me more than a dozen times each day, just as he has done every day of my life.

Is it any wonder that my own ‘language of love’ is encouraging words?

Is it any wonder that God has also chosen to use my own writing and speaking to share hope and grace with others?  I am truly my father’s daughter….

And this week I have the privilege of offering back to him a few encouraging words and acts of service and love…

Perspective is a precious gift. How can one complain about anything after worshiping in the living room of an assisted living facility with 80 and 90-year-olds singing the old hymns like “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!” or even “Great is Thy Faithfulness” while looking back at milestones of challenge and courage in life?

Or what about yesterday’s morning break when the fiddler of a visiting bluegrass band strolled over to Daddy in his walker and began to recount to him a time many years ago when Daddy wrote a letter to the newspaper editor extolling the fine work of this man in the GA Forestry Service. This fiddler said, “Mr. Secrest, I will never forget you as long as I live…” I must admit my eyes were leaking as he walked away…

One important thing Daddy taught me was that life is a Celebration. His favorite motto still is “It’s a Great Day to be alive! And don’t you forget it!

During my entire life he wrote poems to commemorate anything and everything — no need for a special occasion, just being alive that day was cause enough. When he turned 75 I compiled a few of them into a book “For Better…Or Verse” by Pratt Secrest. As I sit by his bed and read them aloud he comments on how great they are and I remind him of the author…. Indulge me a bit on a few favorites which may help you know him better.

Only 19 and already a pilot in World War II….

Walk With God  (1943)

My walk with God is not a task, made hard by common strife,

It’s not a labor, nor a bond inhibiting my life.

For when I walk at peace with God, to Him my soul I give,

And then I promise, heart and hand, for Him my life to live.

The year he met my mama – they’ve been married 61 years now…

To Sarah (1949)

If I had a trillion I would buy you all of France!

And I’d give you a million if I only had the chance!

Had I a thousand bucks I’d buy a set of diamond rings.

And even with a hundred I could buy you lots of things!

If I had just a dollar I could get you something green…

And I’d only need two bits t buy a brand new magazine!

And here’s one thing for sure, my dear, I really love you true!

If I only had a nickel I would spend it all on you!

Countless Letters to me through the years, this one to faraway Camp Keystone… 

To Cindy at Summer Camp (1964)

Gosh, but we miss you around this place!

(Oh please don’t forget about washing your face!)

On the door of your room we have hung up a wreath

(And always remember you must brush your teeth!)

We haven’t seen Velvet or gone to the stable,

(Do use your best manners when you’re at the table)

Rusty and Frisky are barking at cars,

(Have you slept on the ground yet, out under the stars?)

Susan is playing with friends in the yard,

(Is your cabin ok? Is your bunk soft or hard?)

Cathy is busy typing at school,

(Be sure to obey every single camp rule)

Mother is sewing and raising tomatoes,

(Each day do they feed you three kinds of potatoes?)

I’m hammy as ever with your sisters and Ma

(Do your friends know you’re just as much ham as your Pa?)

We’re lonesome for you and your grin and your curls!

(Be friendly and nice to each one of the girls!)

Well, have a good time and don’t let the bugs bite!

(And Cindy, Oh Cindy, remember to WRITE!) 

Continued Faith Journey…

I’m Gonna Try (1975)

I’m gonna try to be a better man today.

Gonna watch what I do; watch what I say

Not too quick to make a sarcastic remark

(That’s as dumb as taking a shot in the dark!)

I’ll compliment people for jobs well done.

I’ll sympathize, too, for races not won.

I’ll find someone to tell how Jesus changed me.

How He offers us all a new life for free!

I’ll try to get organized (one of these days!)

And make my desktop less of a maze!

With my family I’ll try to be more loving, too.

More helpful to Sarah in all that I do.

So here I go, Lord, help me do what I say!

The sun’s coming up now! Here comes the new day!

Still choosing God’s Way (last poem I found for Daddy’s Book on his 75th) 

Resolution  (1998)

The world is full of music – some good and some bad!

Some cheerful and happy, and some dreadfully sad!

Some climbing mountains, some skiing slopes,

Some raising our spirits, some drowning our hopes.

The music is ours to hear as we choose –

The magic of laughter or the sadness of blues!

Ah, the world has enough of that negative tone!

Too many who live with a sigh or a grown.

So let’s raise our voices and sing to the Sun:

“I’ll make someone happy before this day is done!”

–       All poems by Pratt Secrest 

  I’ll be honest. It’s hard to see loved ones grow older and diminished… It’s hard to not be able to offer much to them, especially if you live far away… But it’s also Good to remember:

  • Life is a Gift, so treasure each day.
  • Now is the time to tell someone you love them.
  • We are never alone – God promises to be with us.
  • Give, laugh, sing, and celebrate every single day

because, as Daddy says, “It’s a Great Day to be Alive!”

Sarah, Pratt and Cindy, August 2010

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018/2010 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        www.EncouragingWords.net 


  1. maggierowe on August 1, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    I can’t but feel a bit wistful rereading this wonderful tribute to your father, Cindy. We both lost our dads at about 87. Unlike yours, though, it was very difficult for my dad ever to tell me he loved me. I grew up with such low self-confidence and still struggle with that, although I have learned to have confidence in my heavenly Father’s sovereign work and enabling in my life and ministry. How fortunate you were to grow up with a dad who was such an optimistic encourager!

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on August 1, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      Bff, I know. For years I honestly thought everyone’s daddy was just like mine. Sadly, no. He was larger than life and I am forever grateful for his love and encouragement to me. He wasn’t perfect (who is?) but I still hear his voice in my ear every day. I guess God knew I needed an extra boost to get over my own insecurity etc. (still a journey, eh?) Love you lots. As I posted this I prayed for everyone, as I know you too do, who never even knew their father or knew he loved them. We are blessed.

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