My Daddy never read one of my columns. He didn’t even know I wrote one. The pain of losing him in 2014 has subsided with time. I wrote him this letter today. I don’t really want to share it. But I know in my heart it’s what God wants me to do. I wish all you fathers a blessed and Happy Father’s Day.
This Sunday will be the eighth Father’s Day to pass since you’ve been gone.
I think about you a lot though the pain has eased with time. The family is doing well. We all miss you. Especially Mama. I’ve been writing a Tribune column for the last 10 years. I wish you could have known about it. Your comments and opinion would have been valued. It’s possible you won’t like this, but I’m sharing this letter with everyone who takes time to read it.
Looking back on my childhood, there were times you were tough on me. For many years I resented that. Daddy, I was wrong. The discipline you gave me was appropriate. You only spanked me twice that I remember. Once for breaking a window not five minutes after you told me to stop throwing the ball in the house. The second time was because I told you I didn’t have to listen to you anymore. You did what you should have done. I practically begged for it. You didn’t raise me to be soft. You prepared me for adversity while teaching me the importance of accountability. You and Mama taught Craig and I to say please and thank you. We were taught to say yes Sir and yes Ma’am, no Sir, and no Ma’am. I’ll do it until the day I die.
Daddy, there were many years no one accused you of being a religious man. There were several years you weren’t much of a churchgoer. That changed when you got older. This confused me until the last year or so. You told me about being saved at North Canton Baptist Church when you were just a boy. There were many times I remember you singing the old gospel hymns. It was often while listening to the Hee Haw Quartet or Vern Gosdin. Maybe you weren’t religious. But you were spiritual. And you were saved.
In hindsight, I now appreciate you didn’t put on airs for anyone. You never professed to be a good man. You shared with me a few of the mistakes you made that I might benefit from the lessons. When I would bring my preacher friends Ronnie Loner and Mike Mullinax around, you didn’t change who you were. Mama probably wished you would have. I’m thankful you didn’t. I know you respected them. You were kind to them and they to you. They are both good men Daddy. More preachers need the love and grace Ronnie and Mike show to people regardless of who they are or how they live their lives.
Today is my 60th birthday Daddy. Much like you at my age, my mind and heart have a renewed desire to please God. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We are examples this scripture is true. Since you’re with the Lord, I don’t guess I needed to be quoting you scripture. But I’m thankful you and Mama didn’t just raise us boys. You trained us. Your courage in life and in death was evidence of your relationship with Christ. I admired it.
In case you don’t know, you have a great-grandson now. Lindsey and her husband Steve named him Beau Montgomery Shrout. He’s a beautiful baby boy. You would be so proud. Lindsey is a great Mama, and she married a good man. Steve will be a wonderful Daddy to Beau. If God lets me live, I will make sure he knows about you when he gets old enough to understand.
Thank you for the life lessons you taught me. You were much smarter than I ever gave you credit for. I hope Lindsey can one day same the same about me.
I’m going to close now. Got some things to do. Whether you ever thought so or not, you were a good man. A man I’m proud to say was my Daddy. You and I weren’t big on saying I love you. But you always showed me. In your way. The best you knew how. We both did. I’ll see you when I get there. If it’s all the same to you, I’d like to hang around here a few more years before we reunite. After all, we will have eternity. I love you, Daddy. Happy Father’s Day in heaven.
Your son. Chris