Daddy walked the walk

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2018

We all know that when someone close to us, like a parent, dies, there are many “firsts.” Holidays are just different in that first year after. There is the first Christmas without the loved one. The first birthday. The first anniversary. And so on.

When the loved one is Daddy, there is the first Father’s Day without him. Father’s Day is this Sunday and, for the first time in my life, I will celebrate that great day without actually seeing or talking to my Daddy; at least here on earth.

Even though that is true, there is no way to have Father’s Day without remembering the wonderful and loving Daddy our family enjoyed. There may be all the inscribed trophies and coffee cups that say “Greatest Dad,” but the one our family had earned every bit of that “greatest.” Daddy didn’t talk the talk, he walked the walk.

Email newsletter signup

One of his greatest “walks” was the way he taught my brother and me to work. On a farm, there is always something to do; especially in those days past when technology consisted of post-hole diggers and hoes. Forget the chemicals. Pull the weeds with hands or chop them off with a hoe.

Daddy could sharpen a hoe. If the work of the day consisted of walking the row and hoeing, the day would start at the tailgate of the old jalopy we called a truck. With another of the past’s technological wonders, a flat Mill Bastard-cut file, Daddy would put an “edge” on every hoe.

Sometimes, the day consisted of work where a hoe was not needed. Tobacco is not a crop that is grown anymore. Oh, there may be a patch somewhere, but not like when every farm had one. Tobacco was a tremendously labor-intensive crop, one that fit the make-up of our family pretty well.

Daddy and momma had three children, two boys and a girl. My brother and I were one year apart and, as soon as we could be counted on, we were taught to work. But Daddy never asked us to do anything that he wasn’t willing to do, or had done, himself, but there were times when he had to do other things.

That’s when my brother and I would be taken to a field and “dropped off.” We knew what to do. Daddy would leave us with our instructions and a gallon jar of water. The jar of water started off with a little ice in the top, but the hot sun would win its battle with the ice fairly quickly. We tried to fool the sun by putting some tinfoil around the top of the jar, but that tinfoil did not transform that glass jar into a Yeti, if you know what I mean.

Here’s one of the great things I remember about Daddy. He didn’t take us to the field and leave us to do the hard work all alone. When he finished his other work, he would come back to the field and help us. He didn’t have to do that. We were his sons and the work was ours to do, yet Daddy got out there with us.

I think about how our Lord says that “I will never forsake you.” In all of our lives, even after the farm, Daddy was there for us. He expected us to do the right thing, but, as I said earlier, Daddy didn’t simply tell us what to do. He did not mind showing us how to do the right thing. What greater love is there?

On this first Father’s Day without Daddy here on earth, I take great pride in knowing where he is. I look forward to seeing him again.