Last Tuesday marked the 20th Anniversary of my Dad’s departure from this portion of his life into the fullest of lives in the next. I was 18 when he died, but boy! do I have memories. Here are my top 10.
10. Cartoons. He loved cartoons. By cartoons, I mean real cartoons. Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, etc. His favorite: Wiley E. Coyote and Road Runner. As a kid, I never got it. As an adult, I still don’t. But he also had an affinity toward Tom and Jerry. Those, I couldn’t stand as a kid. But as an adult, I laugh about as hard as he did.
9. Baseball. My dad loved baseball. He loved to watch the Braves and it was his love of the game that got me interested (somehow that didn’t happen with football; my wife’s love of football got me interested in that). We could watch the Braves (and often did) for hours, but that could be because it takes hours to watch a baseball game. Sadly, the players strike got under both our skins. Baseball wasn’t the same after that.
8. Bum shoulder. My dad’s shoulder wasn’t good. I never understood what happened to it, but it often gave him fits. I do remember though, often on days that it didn’t, he’d ask if I wanted to go through the baseball. Sometimes I took him up on his offer, and a few times I didn’t. I always remembered that the next day he’d be in pain. I asked him why he threw the ball around when he knew he’d be hurting the next day. He just wanted to spend time with me because he loved me.
7. Volley Ball. My dad was 48 years old when I was born. You do the math. By the time I’m 16, he is 64 (so I did the math for you). We’d have our youth group out on Saturday nights at our house, having a volley ball net set up. We’d get a game going and there was my 64 year old dad playing right along. Everyone (all teens) loved it and loved him. This group started when I was about 12, so that’s age 60 until just before he died at 67. Seven years of watching him play volley ball.
6. Cooking. My dad didn’t start cooking until later in life. He wasn’t the best, but he was always willing and he tried hard. It took him twice as long as my mom. But there were two things he did very well: fajitas and fried chicken sandwiches. Every Saturday, the youth would play volley ball, eat chicken sandwiches, and…
5. Bible Study. Imagine a dozen or so teenagers giving up every Saturday night of their teen lives to come to youth group. It wasn’t all “fun and games.” There was serious study going on. I can’t remember exactly what time the study began; I believe around 8:00, yet there were many nights it continued until midnight. He let them ask their questions, have them open their Bibles and show them the answer. He helped us learn how to think about our lives biblically. There was one Saturday where one of the teens opened their Bible and told my dad he’d found a $20 bill inside. My dad told him that he put it there on purpose and it was the young man’s to keep. He said, “Let this be a lesson to you. There is value in opening up God’s Word. More valuable than that $20.”
4. Dumb dumb. That seemed to be his nick-name for himself. He was not a dumb-dumb, but when he made a mistake, he used that name. “Come on, dumb dumb.” But never in real anger, or even frustration it seemed. It was just something he said to acknowledge his mistake and get back on track.
3. Sir-what-huh? That was how he answered if I had a question. “Dad?” “Sir-what-huh?” I remember my mom chastising him once, saying it was rude. I see her point if he did that to others; I don’t recall him doing that though. To me, it was funny. I loved it. He also called me Christosopher. Don’t know where that came from, but I loved it.
2. Homemade ice cream. While my mom had the best recipe for making homemade ice cream, my dad had the best method. I have no idea how he was able to get it to freeze just right. That sounds crazy if you’ve never had my mom and dad’s homemade ice cream, but it’s true. I’ve never been able to freeze ice cream like he did. He was a pro.
1. The Christmas Guest. Every year my dad told “The Story of the Christmas Guest” as retold by Helen Steiner Rice. He had it memorized and recited it in church at Christmas time. He became famous for it in our little town of Flovilla. He began reciting it every year at our community Christmas party held in our community center. It is my fondest memory of my dad, and I am sure it is one of my families as well.
Happy Father’s Day to all you dad’s out there. You and I will never live up to my dad, but as long as we seek to follow after Christ and lead our families in the way, we are great dads always relying on grace.
What are your favorite dad moments? Comment below.