Walking With My Dad…

 

In 1931 The Ford Motor Company was building cars for ‘the masses’.

     Assembly lines had been developed and Henry Ford was perfecting the ‘art’ of mass production… One size fits all… interchangeable parts.

     (Early on, Ford apparently said his cars were available in any color you could want….as long as you wanted black!)

  The automobile above is a 1931 Ford Model A.

     Also in 1931 there was another important creation.

My Dad.

     Unlike the Model A, this was a one-of-a-kind production. Similar in many ways to the generations before, but unique in genetics, personality and potential.

     This automobile has been restored to its original condition, or as close as possible, by many hands, while my Dad is restored daily through his personal walk of Faith…in God, in his family, and in the brotherhood of Man as a whole.  Contrary to today’s aberrant thinking and subsequent political equivocation….

Knowing God as one’s Father automatically makes all men one’s brothers. Pure and simple….!

       Bureaucratic ideology and legislative approaches in any form heretofore known, simply can’t replicate that truth!

       In this day of Styrofoam, throw away icons, new generations don’t have an essential awareness of what truly makes a hero.

     Heroes aren’t created by how many 3-pointers are sunk, or how many touchdowns are scored, or records sold…

     Heroes are molded around a heart that beats with the life-blood of giving, through the act of lifting up, with tolerance and acceptance, and not in a closed self perpetuating system, but with vessels that pump the flow of Love outward, infusing the cosmos.

     My dad never fought in a foreign war though he was engaged on many alien battlefields.   Prejudice, self-loathing, abuse and hatred are as extrinsic and distant to him as the sands of  the Middle East, the mountains of Europe or the seas of the Orient.  His ‘charge’ against these idiosyncrasies are the hills and bridges that he set his sights on to conquer for the sake of others.   He has always been willing to lend a hand or point out a guidepost in helping anyone in need to find the way through their own personal minefields.

     I seriously doubt that he would consider himself a hero, but I am also certain that there are many, including myself, whose lives are touched by him in such positive ways that that is exactly what we would call him.

     This past Saturday marked the annual Gallatin MS Walk to raise funds for, and awareness of, Multiple Sclerosis.  Pap is a major fund-raiser for this cause.

     Please , if you know nothing about this malady, go back to my post from April of 2010 where I have included links to factual data concerning the disease and the low spot it holds on the totemic hierarchy of governmental funding for research.

     This year I didn’t shoot as many pictures as I have previously and the primary reason is that I decided that it was more important to actually take the walk with my dad and sister.

(I didn’t do the entire 5 mile trail, but as I was riding in the ‘water cart’ and photographing the participants, I hopped out when we caught up with my father.)

     I don’t really remember what we talked about as we walked…it doesn’t matter. The weather was wonderful and I was immediately cast back to pre-school age when my father would take me ‘calling’ with him to the homes of members of the small country church where he was the pastor.

     I don’t recall the conversations in these homes, either….whether Pap was urging regular church attendance, or offering consolation and hope, or just talking fishing, Faith, or whether the weather would cooperate for a bountiful harvest, and if not, if the storehouses were full enough to pull the family through till the cycle could start again in the Spring… whatever the conversations involved, I do know that my dad had a genuine empathy whether it concerned their souls, their sons, or their sciaticas…

     A lot of these visits coincided with lunchtime, because that’s when the man of the house would come in from the fields for a respite from his chores and a hearty bite to eat to fuel his afternoon aspirations.

     I know that we were served some pretty good farm ‘grub’ with each and every component of the meal serving as a testament to the hosts’ labors and their sense of community and sharing.

     And I seem to recall that often there might be a home-made cookie or slice of pie for a 4-year-old with good manners.

Pap never insisted that I show good manners.

He didn’t have to.

He lived it, and I followed his lead.

     (One of my favorite ‘desserts’ was when the head of the house would go out in the fields and return with  a 6-inch stalk of sugar cane, cut for me to chew on.

I didn’t need M&M’s, I had the real deal…

And perfectly natural, by the way….)

     I’m afraid my kids have probably not had the opportunity to experience the icy cold grotto of the country refrigerator,

the ‘Spring House’,

and though I know that they have shed their shoes and felt the initial breath-catching shock, followed by an anesthetic numbness as they dipped their emancipated toes into a clear frigid brook in the heat of August, I regret that they have not shared the experience  of  purposefully wading  a rivulet, ankle deep in the tingling ozone exhiliration on the forward edge of a thunderstorm…. on Safari…

     (See, we (my brother and I) were especially excited to go to a stream and turn over rocks just before a storm because then we weren’t afraid to try to catch a ‘mud puppy’, a large salamander, who we KNEW would bite you and then not let go until it thundered!!!!)

Though I have tried to present my children with the fatherly advice that I heard,

“It’s what’s UNDER the surface that you have to pay attention to!  Look deep!” 

     Dad and I would often leave the homes of the church members, after a prayer, of course, with home-made butter, eggs, country ham, or a basket of tomatoes and ‘greens’.

     I never knew what kind of salary a country pastor made, but I feel fairly certain that the ‘produce’ supplements helped in a large way.

     I often tire of people talking about ‘the good ole days’, but there was a sense of…more than community….of family… a daily ‘reaching out’  from  these dwellings that seems to be lacking today.   These were the homes where births, deaths, triumphs and tragedies were connected to all…

  …where a gathering of women on a Saturday afternoon produced a quilt for the pastor’s children to sleep under.  I can remember falling to sleep as I read the names of the quilting bee participants that they had each embroidered with love on their ‘square’.

     …A time when neighbors, though physically miles apart, would come together to lend a harvesting hand, or a planting plow…or a strong shoulder to bear the shared brunt of loss.

     I feel lucky that I was not only able to experience what is rapidly becoming a vanishing part of our nation’s heritage,  history more than our story, but also that I had a father who instilled those very basic tenets of love and service into my everyday life.

     Thank you, Pap, for living an exemplary life and for letting me walk with you…for leading me through the experiences that have shaped my life.

     Though at times, I will admit, I still feel sometimes as if I am on those 4-year-old legs, struggling to keep up.

 

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~ by rkpowers on April 8, 2011.

2 Responses to “Walking With My Dad…”

  1. A mighty fine tribute Randy….it brings tears to my eyes.

    Like

  2. WONDERFUL!!!!

    Like

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