I must have been in the 8th grade—a time of wildness and rebellion for me and for many youths. Bodies are changing, hormones are raging. Confusion is rampant.
It was an hour or so after my bed time. It was hot in Oklahoma, and sticky. 1946 was a few years before air conditioning came into people’s homes. It was hard to sleep. I lay awake. I could hear my mother and father talking in another room.
Dad said, “Virginia, I don’t know what is going to become of that boy. He is so rebellious. He may end in the pen.” That statement must have packed great power to be remembered these many decades later.
It is not easy to be 13. It is not easy to be the parent of a 13 year old. Being a father of a rebellious teenager is demanding. Nor, is it easy to be a teenager. Perhaps even harder for a growing boy is to be fatherless. I cannot imagine what life would have been without my father. Mother was wonderful. But, in Dad there was authority. There was toughness. There were the demands that must be met. No whining was acceptable. No excuses were valid. Maybe it is a “testosterone thing.”
Dad taught me discipline. He taught me to work. He made demands that I deeply resented, But they had to be met. No excuses were acceptable. The mission MUST be accomplished
He’s gone now. But the memory lingers. I can still see his unique walk…hear his melodious voice, remember his unflinching demand for hard labor in the hot sun….and, I remember his pride in me.
As with so many things, Dad had another and gentler side. He was always there. He was there for me. As a small boy, I felt assured holding his hand in time of danger. When he was in middle life, I KNEW which of us was the MAN. In his last years, when his body had started to fail and his brilliant mind had evaporated, I knew how blest I had been. I knew it would be tough, but I desperately wanted to live the honor his name. His strong discipline, his absolute honesty, his truthfulness and dependability would live in me as goals to which I could always aspire.
Do you—or did you—have a father? What did—or does—he mean to you? Are you a father? What does that status demand of you? Are you the best you can be? In the very end, God is our Father….and we are His sons and daughters. We bear GOD’S family name and honor.