Father’s Day is getting close. Men everywhere will faint from happiness after getting gas grills and golf clubs.
Dads are so much easier than moms, aren’t they? On Mother’s Day, we have to find the perfect gift that says, “Thank you for enduring unspeakable pain to give me life, and for covering electrical outlets when I went through that stabby fork phase. P.S. Potty training, too.”
With dads, you just have to find something that says, “Stay cool, big guy,” and he’s thrilled.
He’d love grill- or golf-related gifts, but he’ll get choked up over manual screwdrivers and off-brand shaving cream. Dads are low-maintenance in a way moms are not. (Yes, I know mommies are happy with a macaroni necklace and burned toast, but try getting away with that when you’re 25.)
I like to write about my dad on Father’s Day because I liked him. A lot. So did my siblings. He was a likeable—and loveable—guy. I’ve never met a better man.
He was quiet. Compassionate. Observed more than he talked. Loyal to the grave. Handsome, with black, curly hair and enormous brown eyes. (None of us—Bubba, Moonbeam, T-Bob or me—have brown eyes, BTW. Genetics are funny.)
Dad was 5 feet, 7 inches, and very thin. Supposedly he survived diphtheria as a child, and was scrawny ever after. He ate everything in sight: Cakes, pies, cookies, potatoes, bread, pancakes, fried meat—and could not gain a pound. He topped out at 136. You could count his ribs, which is why he never took his shirt off.
He taught by example. He didn’t gossip. He helped anyone he could. He treated everyone with respect. He rose at 4 a.m., went to work, came home and hung out with his family.
Unusually for a man of his era, he lavished us with affection. He kissed and hugged his sons as often as he did his daughters, and today his sons kiss and hug their sons.
Dad was raised by a remote, reserved man—even when Grandfather was dying, they shook hands goodbye—and I think he consciously went the other way with his children.
He could speak and write Latin. He was known as a Biblical scholar. (A Sunday school teacher once asked what Scriptures Dad read to us that week. “I learned about the Whore of Babylon,” T-Bob replied. “Thamthon and the jawbone of an ath!” I lisped.)
Dad liked to build things: Barns, fences, dog houses. He also carved beautiful miniatures—a spindle-back rocking chair that fit in your palm, tiny tables and chairs—using blocks of oak and his pocketknife.
Reader, is it any wonder I grew up thinking all men loved Jesus, understood Latin and were handy with a hammer?
Life taught me otherwise, of course—one beau didn’t know what “vini, vidi, vici” meant; another couldn’t crank a lawn mower.
Dad never asked my dates if they were handy, or what their intentions were. He always led with, “Who are your people?” in his low, rumbly voice.
Regardless of the answer, he’d say something like, “Son, your daddy’s great-aunt dated my fourth cousin, Timmy Carl. Tell her TC’s still in prison,” and I’d pinch myself to keep from laughing.
I don’t think he much liked any boy I brought home. He thought they were nice, but not good enough for his baby.
Dad taught us many things, but one lesson has stayed with me all my life: Because my father loved me, I believed I was worthy of love. That, my friends, is a gift.
Happy Father’s Day!