It's funny, but after all these years, in my mind I can see my father plainly. His face is shiny, with the high Irish color in his cheekbones. There is a quirk in the corner of his mouth as if suppressing a grin, or even a hearty laugh. His blue eyes twinkle and his dark hair is slightly waved back from his forehead. The vision is so clear I can almost reach out and touch him. I see him in his old work clothes, blue denim shirt wet with perspiration on his back and chest. He has a mowing scythe across his shoulder and is striding down the hill from the ball diamond where he has been cutting filth. I see him ready for a church service, with his starched white shirt and shoes polished to a high shine. He has on the blue plaid sports coat that he loved, and his beloved Bible is under his arm.
He was so much a part of my life that I still see him everywhere. He left his mark in every corner of this old farm. The old-fashioned rambler roses are blooming now on the creek bank. I found them by accident a few days ago when I spied a wood duck with her little ones paddling down the creek. They disappeared under some overhanging bushes, so I waded in the creek trying to find them. There were the roses, spilling over the bank in a riot of red and pink blooms.
They bloomed in profusion behind the old house where we lived the first seven years of my life. The house hung over the creek bank, and we could hear the creek babbling along as we slept. From the kitchen window, you could see the mass of roses spilling over the bank all the way to the creek. Daddy loved them, and when we moved into the "big house" that Grandma and Grandpa had lived in, he planted masses of them all around it. They climbed up the outside wall of one bedroom, and draped over rough wooden trellises he had built.
When I found the familiar roses still blooming stubbornly on the creek bank, hidden by the underbrush and weeds, I stood there and missed Daddy. His influence lingers — I see him in our son Kevin as he teaches a Sunday school class, and also in my nephew Freddie. It's not only the physical resemblance, but also in their spiritual life. I find myself wishing he could see his great-great grandchildren lined up on the platform at church, singing their Sunday school songs. And he would be so proud of his great-grandson Joshua and his solid experience with God. Almost 23 years have passed, but the memories are with me still . . . We can never underestimate the value of a father. It is through a godly father that we learn to relate to a Heavenly Father. When we learn to respect and obey our earthly father, it is easier to submit to God. The love and tender care they have for us as children helps us to understand better the love of our Father in Heaven.
Our pastor, Brother Richard Talbot, brought out some fundamental truths about fatherhood in his sermon last Sunday. He said, "Fathers have tremendous responsibility to their children. It is far easier for a father to have children, than it is for children to have a father. Children need and deserve to have a real father — someone who will acknowledge God. "A father's most important responsibility is not to feed and clothe his family, or provide a roof over their heads, but to communicate the real meaning of Christian living to them. If you have the best things that life has to offer and fail to teach your children the real meaning of Christian living, you have failed them utterly.
"You may live in a mud hut with a dirt floor, but if you teach your children the value of living for Christ, you are a success in the eyes of God.
"A father once took his little boy on his lap and described to him what a Christian is. When he finished, his son asked a question that pierced his father's heart, 'Daddy, have I ever seen one?' It is a serious thing to live the example of what we want our children to become." Thank God for the fathers who are raising their children with love, firm discipline and godly training. This is a heritage that is passed on from generation to generation. I am thankful for a father who loved me enough to teach me the things of God, by word and example.
Fathers today face a troubled and uncertain world in which to bring up children. If it were not for God to strengthen and guide us, our hearts would fail us. He has always been the answer, and He always will be. May God bless our fathers, and lead them in His footsteps.
Cousin Alyce Faye