I loved to hold his hand, walk with him, stand close to him and especially sit in his lap while falling off into peaceful sleep. There wasn’t a day in my life that I ever doubted his love, the depth of his concern - he was my dad and I was and always will be “his son.” Things come and go in life, some things change, some become clear, and some end up in the arms of confusion and heartache. With my dad, I always ended my days in the arms of peace.
For many of you these memories resound in your heart and soul - yet for some, for many different reasons - the word father, perhaps more embracing “dad” falls short of the arms of peace. Being born some seventy-years past I am not connected with the past several generations - generations that have given witness to the degeneration and decline of the American family. For these generations the whispered word “father” carries with it a sense of absence and all too often, opportunity lost. It’s not just opportunity lost – the saddest of all is opportunity ignored – therein is found the height of dishonor.
My dad worked hard, spent most of his waking hours laboring to provide our family with economic stability, independence, hope for the future, and above all, dad provided us with a sense of importance and love. We never believed he came home to us after work - rather we believed he went to work after taking care of and loving us. My father instilled in us the truth of equality, the harm of religious separation and condemnation, and long before Martin Luther King Jr. told us, my dad lived this truth - “one should be judge by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.”
Often, well perhaps all the time, children “watch” their parents. In the watching they imitate and adapt the beliefs and behaviors of their parents. Over the 58 years he embraced my life, he taught me three very important moral and ethical life-foundations: my mother (his wife) was the core of his life, she was to be honored for she completed him - his children were his central point of sacrifice and purpose, providing them with hope, faith, and love his destiny, a man will be and should be judged by what he does, especially to his family. Thanks dad - I hope I mirror your treasured values.
Just six-nights past, while I lay in the arms of sleep and dreams this came to pass: I noticed the scent of his favorite cologne, as that fragrance told me of his presence he came, as he always did - to the edge of my bed. Sitting close to me he leaned forward, swept my hair from my forehead and whispered with a smile, “I love you my son, today was very special for me because I was with you.” Leaning in close to me he kissed me and he spoke his forever last words - “goodnight Tommy, remember you will always be my ‘best buddy’”. I know dad - I know, life is lived in he “knowing”.