I’d give just about anything to talk to my father just one more time.
That simple man with the big smile and heart of gold has been on my mind more than ever lately as I’ve struggled to navigate my own family through these strange and difficult times.
Dad was born dirt poor to a farming family that depended on their land to survive. He was working from the time he could walk – picking cotton for his own family and for those around them to earn an extra dime. They ate what they could grow or trade for, store bought items were a rare luxury.
He grew up with a deep understanding of the value of hard work and the blood, sweat and tears it took to earn a living.
As soon as he graduated from high school he took a job in a garment factory where he would stay for more than four decades. He became known there as “Dusty” for the dust that covered him at the end of each day, blown back from the fabric he was cutting.
Dad left us in 2015 at the age of 74 and through his life he saw the world change dramatically. He would often talk of the first running water and first electricity in the small wooden house where he grew up, of plowing with mules and the excitement of their first tractor and of the changes in society where he remembered desegregation in his high school, the constant turmoil of the tumultuous years of the 1960s and watching friends go off to war never to return.
He was intensely devoted to his wife and his family and led our home with a quiet determination and simple wisdom. A man of few words, when he spoke seriously you knew it was time to listen. He had the experiences of a lifetime of struggle and change and he knew what it meant to face uncertainty.
He was often my rock in the storms of life and the first person I would call when, as a young husband and father, I faced a tough decision or difficult question. I could count on him for encouragement and good advice because I knew he’d been there before.
I can’t help but wonder what he’d think about our world today with its constant upheaval. How would he react to the never-ending changes, challenges, worries and fears? As I seek to find my own path through it all it’s so often his voice inside my head, reminding me to hold my family close and put them first, to not worry about what others may think but to open my Bible, pray for guidance and hold tight to the ones I love.
As we celebrate Father’s Day, I’m thankful for that small voice I can still hear in my quiet times of doubt – the legacy of the man who taught me what it means to be a husband, a father and a man. Though he may not be with me, his love and lessons linger on.
If you can talk to your father this Sunday, don’t miss the chance. I sure wish, now more than ever, I could talk to mine just one more time.
Brant Sappington is managing editor of the Daily Corinthian’s sister newspaper, the Banner-Independent, in Booneville and a longtime member of the Daily Corinthian news team where he continues to serve as assistant editor.