The dad thing
Father's Day diverts my thoughts down several paths and of course the first one is the gratitude and blessing in my heart for The Chester, our dad, pictured above. He introduced us to and taught us much of what we know about the dad thing. In case you were wondering, the nickname "The Chester" is the tag our brother-in-law David Williams gave to dad a number of years ago. It was recognition of his one-of-a-kind character, humor, personality, and influence. Being grateful for him is something we all feel 24/7/365. But, it flows warms in us on Father's Day.
To reduce nearly sixty-seven years of life lessons to this page is beyond my pay grade. But, there are several unique contributions The Chester contributed to my own understanding of the dad thing, that is, beyond giving us us life, and I want to comment about them briefly---
1. Dad modeled biblical fatherhood for Christie, Michael, and I.
He never sent us to church but took us at least three times every week. We
always knew the place of faith in our lives, the role Scripture would play in
shaping us, and the special joys of being involved in local churches. Beyond
church life, he taught us the value of work, the importance of honesty,
integrity, reliability, punctuality, and forthrightness. His imprint on our
character was perhaps the most profound way he influenced us. We are
2. Dad modeled biblical love and respect for our mother.
Much of what I know about marriage and family life I learned under the
guidance of The Chester. His love and care of our mother Esther Mae Owens
Holmes was always very visible to us. The way he cared for her after her ALS
diagnosis showed us another level of Ephesians 5 love.
3. Dad educated all three of his children.
The Chester graduated from Furman U. in 1950 after I was born. He worked
hard to support a family and finish his degree under Veterans Administration
benefits. His greatest desire since my birth was a college education for his
children. So, he worked hard and paid for our college by the week for twelve
years---Christie at Mars Hill College, Mike at Furman University, and me at The
Citadel. Our graduations may have been his proudest moments. And, we all left
college without owing a dime. His commitment did that for us.
4. Dad taught us to laugh.
Members of our family had to develop a sense of humor or else. Even today our
times together are punctuated by his special comic relief and the unique angles
he brings to life. It's been an important lesson, learning to laugh. Life is hard,
sometimes brutal. The Chester taught us the value of a good joke, an apt word,
the joys of satire, the parodies of life circumstances, and the blessing of being
able to laugh things off. It's a lesson I chuckle over every day.
5. Dad taught me to love words.
The Chester was always an avid reader, an excellent writer, and a gifted
speaker. His years of inspirational after-dinner speaking to sales organizations
and business groups were a highlight. When I was developing on the school
newspaper and year books staffs his advice and counsel about writing projects
were unique times of learning. When God called me to ministry he was my
most appreciated preaching coach. And, I know that whatever gifts I have as a
writer were first born in him.
The other pictures are Father's Day streams too. There's Harriet Lowman Thomas Holmes, my dear wife for more than forty three years, who went to the Labor Room on June 25, 1975, and December 17, 1977 so that I could be dad to Liz and Brian. Then, there they are on Liz's wedding day, a favorite picture. The first time they called me "dad" or "daddy" I wept. I thank God for the privilege and honor of being their dad every single day. Then, there are John Lewis and Laura in the pool. They call me "Ganga" but I know it means granddad.
There are two others but I ran out of time. Papa Otto Queen Holmes is back there and Papa Ocie Franklin Owens. They are also important elements of the dad thing in my life and I thank God that they were the immediate patriarchs of my two family lines.
Happy Father's Day. Congratulations on being a part of the dad thing.