"The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him."
STONE MOUNTAIN, GA-It’s not a big day for the fresh flower industry and restaurants don’t count on massive crowds, but Father’s Day has more importance than window dressing of festivities. Not to discount tributes-they are important-but fatherhood carries many elements that merit pondering on the day set aside for remembering.
I’m the fortunate son. Dad, at 96, is, by threads, hanging on. He challenges the end by whispering that he will live until he reaches 100. Doubt him at your peril.
His youth mirrored millions of other men of the era. Leaving the farm during the depression, he came to Atlanta and was a team member at Bell Aircraft that built the legendary B-29. One became the Enola Gay. Drafted during World War II, he fought across Europe under George Patton as a foot soldier in the Third Army, later assigned to a legendary army called the Thunderbirds and mustered out while serving as an MP in New Orleans after a spell with General Jonathan Wainwright.
My mother had a boy’s army dress uniform made for me to greet him at the station when he got off the train named The Crescent in Atlanta.
He was movie star handsome.
|Atlanta's "Baseball Magnolia"|
Food was always on the table, we dressed well for school and church, and he only wanted one thing for his three children: a good education. We went to college where we chose and honored his wish.
He takes pride in outliving almost everyone he knew or worked with except for one overbearing tragedy: the loss of his youngest son, an event that almost did what the Nazi’s could not.
My childhood memories include many fishing trips. Carrabelle, Florida where, at about 10 miles out, I got seasick and prayed I would die. Freshwater fishing in Alabama on the Tennessee River. The pier in Lake Worth Florida. Big game fishing in the Atlantic and a boatload of trout caught on the Indian River. My preference for fresh fish has never lessened.
Baseball, whether I played or we went to see the greatest minor league team in history, the beloved Atlanta Crackers, was primary entertainment. His favorites (and mine) were Ralph “Country” Brown, a speedy centerfielder who never made it to the big leagues and Eddie Mathews who did and joined Babe Ruth as the only player to hit a home over the centerfield Magnolia tree in Atlanta’s Ponce de Leon ballpark.
The old tree still stands and I visit it occasionally, always thinking of the farm boy who survived war, worked hard, served his community quite well and gave me a jump start in life.
We lead best by example. My father is a composite of Robert E. Lee and Billy Graham. A ferocious warrior, a Southern gentleman and devoted Christian. A good and decent man who laughs at the stories from Jerry Clower and Lewis Grizzard.
Happy Father’s Day big guy. Thanks for a wonderful life.