Father’s Day has come and gone, and I find myself still thinking about my father. He has been gone for almost 41 years, yet there is hardly a day goes by when I don’t remember something about him. Father’s Day is a special day for remembering, but I am always remembering the things that Daddy taught us.
He taught us a love and an appreciation for nature that many people take for granted. He would point out the fragrant glory of an apple tree in full bloom, and show us the intricate perfection of a tiny violet cupped in one palm. He couldn’t walk through the fields without picking a bouquet of wild flowers for Mom, or for one of us girls.
He loved spring, and in the dead of winter, he would describe its coming in such graphic detail that we could feel the soft, new grass under our feet. We could hear the trill of the songbirds as they built their nests, and smell the wild plum blossoms in the air. Many times after a summer shower, he would call us out in the yard to see a beautiful rainbow arched high over Pilot Knob. He would point out as how the colors blended one into another, and then tease us about the pot of gold that was at the other end.
The glory of a sunset, streaked with amethyst, crimson and gold thrilled him beyond words—and he enjoyed it so much more when he could share it with one of us. This love of the beauty of the heavens has been passed down for more than one generation. I remember when Grandson Reuben was just a little fellow that he would go with me to the top of the hill here above the church to watch a sunset unfolding. One time as we viewed a glorious pink one streaked with red, he remarked. “Oh, that is so good—I’d like to take a spoon and scoop it up!”
We learned early the pleasures of the outdoors—camping out along a trout stream, eating our breakfast that had been cooked over a campfire and served in a tin pan. We could hear the swift water ripple as it flowed over the rocks, and see it sparkle in the sun. The fragrance of the pine trees was strong in the air, and the rhododendrons grew right down to the water’s edge.
In the fall, we learned about the woods when we camped out at Hickory Knob during squirrel season. Daddy called it “Alford’s Fork” where we pitched our tent and made camp. I can still remember the warm, leafy smell that rose up from the very ground as the sun shone on it. Daddy would cut us a grapevine swing, and we swung on it after we were grown women. There was a quiet glow about him as he showed us an especially showy maple tree decked out in its fall colors. He wanted us to love the outdoors as he did, and we do.
I can remember how he pulled us on a sled after a snowfall, and would catch snowflakes on his glove to show us that no two were ever alike. He had a zest for living that spilled over and caught in us. Yes, I still miss him!
He taught us a reverence for older people; to respect their age and the wisdom that their many years had brought them. I have rewarding friendships with older people that I may have missed otherwise. My children, and many of my grandchildren, have a special feeling for older folks and love to work with them.
Daddy gave his love and affection unrestrainedly, and we learned early to do the same. He loved Mom, and us and other people too. I saw him put his arm around Mom in church, o take her hand when they were walking, and the glow of their love encircled us. He loved babies, anyone’s babies, and this heritage has been passed down to my own children. My six-foot sons will pick up, cuddle and kiss a baby in public without embarrassment. (And they are not even running for public office!)
The most important thing that Daddy taught us was God’s love for us. He taught us, by word and pure example, the worth of our own souls. We learned early the way of salvation, and letting God lead and direct our lives. Daddy taught us to pray, and I’ve never heard anyone pray as he did. He had a “secret place of prayer” down in the woods beside a big rock. It was no secret when Daddy prayed. Even if we couldn’t have heard him (which we did, and Daddy’s prayers still ring in my ears,) we could tell by his shining face that he had been talking to God. H brought us up in the way that we should go, and if some of us did depart from it, I am sure that they never forgot.
Daddy taught us things that no one else could have. A special day for remembering? I remember Daddy every day of my life.