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Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Tribute to My Father


Daddy has always told people he was a “child bride,” since he wasn’t quite twenty-one when he married my mother. (His parents had to sign for him!) He was dreamy handsome, with thick, black wavy hair and an adorable smile. No wonder my mother asked, “Who is that?” I was born fifteen months after their wedding.

My father was always the hard-working head of our household. I remember very few things about my early years, but I have vignettes in my head of my Daddy working at his desk when it was time for me to go to bed. He worked full-time plus.

Daddy is a writer. He majored in Agriculture in college and became a journalist after one disappointing year of teaching. He stayed in agriculture throughout his working years. He edited several different farming magazines and lobbied on behalf of farmers in Washington, D.C. Since retiring, he has edited quite a few Christian books, pamphlets, and promotional materials for different ministries.

When we were growing up, my Daddy knew how to make the most ordinary things fun and educational. Every fall, he’d rake up a huge pile of leaves, and then we would play in it. He would bury us in leaves until only our faces were sticking out. He would pick us up and plop us down into the leaves. It was so fun!

Daddy would help us “jump” the waves in the ocean. He helped us build sand castles with their own moats filled with water.

Some of the things I appreciate most are the trips we took together. We literally saw the United States—almost all of them. We crossed the country in a VW van with no air conditioning and either camped in the van or in a tent. My favorite places were out West: Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the Colorado Rockies, and Mount Rushmore. We would get up early in the morning so we could see elk and moose as they had their breakfasts. We camped by rushing, ice-cold streams under huge hemlock trees. We camped on a slope in the Snowy Mountains (where my brother rolled down the hill in his sleeping bag, the jays tried to steal our pancakes, and the hot dogs fell into the ashes). Our family hiked trails up to pristine mountain lakes. My Daddy knew all the names of trees, insects, lichens, flowers, and birds.

We used to canoe as a family. We’d try to be very quiet so that we could sneak up on the wildlife. Those times stick in my memory. Such beauty!

My Daddy was a keen photographer. He would sometimes forget to take pictures of the family because he was intent on getting the most beautiful photo of a fern or a woodland flower, wet with dewdrops.

Daddy is a lover of waterfalls and covered bridges. He would hunt out the most gorgeous places—woods of delicate rhododendrons, mountain laurel, and dense foliage with a roaring waterfall and rocky stream. Some of the most beautiful places on earth are those out-of-the-way places my Daddy discovered for us.

I think his love of plants and gorgeous spaces got translated into his landscaping everywhere that we lived. He would transform our yards with dogwood trees, flowers, and different shrubs that he planted and tended.

Daddy is the original animal lover in our family. He grew up raising goats and was very active in FFA. He let us have several pets, the most successful being a medium-sized dog named Rastus.

My Daddy is a kind man. He gave our mother and us three children the wonderful security of being loved.

When he retired from his secular company, someone gave a speech saying that he was the consummate Christian gentleman. He is.

My Daddy has one of the most beautiful tenor voices I ever heard. (No prejudice here, but it’s true.) He was always singing on our many trips in the car. He and Mama would sing fun songs, little love songs, and hymns. As soon as we were able, we chimed in. I don’t think he ever had any pride about his voice. He only wanted to use it for the Lord.

He has always been in love with my mother. They’ve been married almost sixty years now, and you’d still think they’re honeymooners. That kind of commitment doesn’t come by accident. I know that now, but they make it look easy.

My Daddy was always a man. He showed us what it meant to be a man. He didn’t try to prove his manhood. He is a man.

There’s so much I left out of this Father’s Day tribute. My Daddy is much more wonderful than I ever could express in one blog post. I am privileged to have such a father.

Thank you, Daddy, for your love, your example, your godly and lovely spirit, and for just being you. I love you!

(Also, a special Happy Father’s Day to our son David, who’s celebrating his first Father’s Day, our son-in-law Jim, father of a very fun little boy, my terrific husband, and my father-in-law Donald.)

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