In the early morning hours of May 7, 1993 my father was promoted into the presence of Jesus. After being without him for over 14 years I still miss his voice on the phone, his stories, and his encouragement. And, on Father’s Day I especially miss him.
One of 13 children, dad grew up in the hills of Yancey County North Carolina in a pioneer world that I never experienced but only heard about from daddy, momma, grand parents and uncles and aunts. Life in the mountains was hard, the winters cold, the cupboard often bare, but a crop that seemed to flourish was character.
My father, (always called “Daddy” by my brother and I, and most of the time by my mom) was the most honest man I have ever known. He was always truthful, always generous with the little he had, always a faithful husband, and he was always my hero.
We were not close during my childhood. My dad worked harder than any person I have ever known and he fished and hunted with the same intensity. Often, there was little time for me in those early years. By the time he seemed to want to have a relationship with me I had discovered fast cars, girls, and neon lights.
When I was in my mid 30’s I had been praying for and talking to daddy about Christ for almost a decade or so and seemingly to no avail. Finally, in a little country church on a Sunday night, my father made his peace with God and he was wonderfully converted to Christ.
From that day until his last day he was a faithful witness to the love and grace of God and my best friend. I experienced for the first time the love of my earthly father and it was consistent and wonderful. I watched as my dad bravely and expectantly faced a terminal illness with never an obvious fear or hint of uncertainty. He was well prepared to die and had made every provision possible so that mom would be well cared for.
By any standard by which you can measure the greatness of a man, my dad was the best. He was a tough as they get but as tender-hearted as any man I’ve known. His compassion for those who did not have a relationship with Christ was one of his most well-known traits. His last known conversation before he went on to be with the Lord was to plead with tears for his cousin to take Christ’s gift of forgiveness and salvation and to meet him in heaven. I was happy to learn that just a few months later that cousin was born again and was full of joy when he told me personally of Daddy telling him about Jesus.
I remember his wild sense of humor, one liners just rolled off his lips. I remember that for mom’s birthdays and anniversaries that my rough cut mountain man daddy could buy the perfect fitting dress, shoes, and hand bag. I remember how he enjoyed giving neighbors fresh corn from his beautiful garden, but not before it was shucked and all the silks removed. I remember his delight when he told me about a stringer of rainbow trout he had caught with his own designed fly. And, I remember at the end of every conversation on the phone his words, “I love you son”.
Father’s day will never be the same without Daddy.
(I first wrote and published much of this on June 18, 2007. I missed him very much then, but now 4 years later I miss him even more. I am very glad for the good memories.)