Sunday we will be celebrating Father’s Day. A day in which children and grandchildren will gather with their respective Dad or granddad; maybe cook a meal for him, take him out to eat, give him a present, just spend time with him, or if they cannot be with him – give him a call. Some of us though will not be able to do that because our Dads are no longer with us – just the memories of past times.
My Dad was only with me for 14 years. He died in the summer between my 8th and 9th grade years. But in that short time he instilled in me what it meant to be a man. My uncles use to describe him as a man’s man. I loved to hear them talk about his antics as a young man and his employees use to talk about his strength. Though some of their stories may have been exaggerated for my benefit; if was obvious they had a lot of respect for my Dad. A boxer in his younger days, he still knew how to show compassion, kindness, and gentleness.
I remember one story told about one of his employee’s house burned down and Dad purchased a trailer and set it up on one of his business properties for the employee and his family to live in until they could get back on their feet. He told the employee all he owned was to watch out for the business and if he saw anything unusual to call the necessary authorities. He had compassion for an uncle when he needed a place to sleep when he had too much to drink – but at the same time Dad had no tolerance for alcohol. I think he is where I got my lack of tolerance for anything alcoholic.
He believed a man’s handshake was more binding than a written contract. Why? Because a handshake is giving your word it would be done and a man’s integrity was vital. And if for whatever the reason, you could not keep your word you are to be man enough to face the individual and admit you cannot, apologize and provide a reason. The reason could never be because you did not want to perform the task you promise or because it was going to cost you more than you anticipated.
You were expected to be in church every Sunday and you were never to work on Sunday. His businesses were always closed on Sunday including Woody’s Boat Basin, now known as Scotts Hill Marina. Dad would not allow anyone to put their boat in or take in out on a Sunday – and you know what – every one respected that. It never hurt his business.
He was an avid fisherman – he loved to surf fish. He would wake me up early and we would be on the surf before sunrise cooking breakfast on an open fire. Some of my best times was on the surf with my dad and brother. We would fish for hours. Sometimes catching nothing but seaweed. Other times the catch would be cleaned and cooked for supper that night.
I remember going out in the boat pulling a small dingy behind us to load it to the point of almost sinking with oysters. Why? Because he would be having an oyster roast at the house almost every Friday night for his Sunday School class. He loved to have people over to just fellowship.
I saw how he cared and loved my mother. His pet name for her was Booger. I asked him one time why he called her that and he said because she is. Never understood. I have a picture of them snuggled up on a couch with his arm around her. He taught me that marriage is for life and your wife is your number one priority on this planet.
One of the most precious memories I carry with me is when I was a young child I would climb into his lap when he came home from work and he would hug me and I could feel is his afternoon shadow rubbing on my face. Those stub-bins tickling me as he would hold me tight. I can feel them now. My dad loved his children. And he loved family. Many a Saturday night we spent on the boardwalk of Carolina Beach sitting and visiting with family while the kids rode the rides or played Putt-Putt, some of the Aunts played Bingo; but, mostly just sitting and talking about life.
Dads are special. If I could I would give my Dad a hug today hoping to feel that afternoon shadow again and tell him though it was short, thank you for the memories, teaching what it means to be a man, a husband, and a Dad. I Love You Dad. I will see you when I get to heaven.
“Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.” Proverbs 23:25