Essays on Faith: Honoring three fathers

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In a recent phone conversation with a friend, one of us mentioned that it’s almost Father’s Day and my friend said, “I’ll bet you were ‘daddy’s little girl,’ weren’t you?”

“Oh, yeah,” I said. “I was the apple of his eye. And I adored him. I lost him much too soon.”

“Writing about my father on Father’s Day is always a labor of love,” I told her. “I never tire of telling beautiful stories about his life.”

However, it has occurred to me this year that it’s difficult to even think about my dad without also thinking of my recently departed son.

That may sound a bit strange but it’s not as strange as you might think. He was a father, too. He had two children, a son and a daughter. But that’s not what makes me think of him when I think of my dad. You see, my son was very much like my father. It was uncanny.

They were even the same age when they died.

The similarities are hard to describe. They didn’t actually look alike. Both were tall and thin, and handsome, of course, but my dad had jet black hair, olive skin and beautiful brown eyes, while his grandson was fair-haired with sky-blue eyes.

The only thing that was exactly the same was the nose. Grecian, I think; long, straight, distinguished looking.

But, even with the obvious difference in physical characteristics, sometimes, when two people have identical mannerisms, it fools us into thinking they look alike.

However, it was their sense of humor that made them so similar.

They both loved to laugh.

I will always remember them that way; laughing and enjoying the best of life.

My dad was an inspiration to many. He had five grandchildren who adored him. Each of them still remembers the funny things he said and did, and the two older ones declare that their grandfather had the strongest impact on them of anyone in their lives.

Our son enjoyed making people laugh, too. He loved telling the story about him and a friend running away from home at age 16 on the friend’s motorcycle. As the story unfolds, it never fails to elicit hysterical laughter from those who hear it. I could go on and on, but I won’t.

On this day to honor fathers, I think I would be remiss if I didn’t add one more: The father of my children.

Unbeknown to Mr. H., shortly before our son passed away, his concern about his dad’s failing health prompted him to write a letter and give it to another family member who shared it with me.

I’m sure my father, being the generous man he was, wouldn’t mind giving up the usual praise that I bestow upon him each year on Father’s Day so that his departed grandson can honor his father — posthumously. In fact, I’m confident he’d be very proud of him.

The letter:

“If something happens to Dad, I don’t think I’m going to handle it very well. He’s my go-to man for everything. He has so much information in his head. He’s so smart! He’s the smartest man I ever knew.

“We had our problems when I was young, but it was always my fault. Dad was just trying to make me straighten up. He wanted me to make something of myself. He was the best teacher I could have had, and even though when I was growing up he always seemed to be working himself to death, he had a big family to support, which he did very well.

“We couldn’t have asked for anything more. We had the best Christmases any kid could have dreamed of. He was such a good provider and a good role model for me. I learned good morals and a strong work ethic from him. I’ll never forget him saying, ‘If you do it right the first time, you won’t have to do it over.’ And I learned the lesson well.

“He tried to do things with me when he wasn’t too tired. He supported me in baseball, even passed ball with me when he could. He took me to a game at Watt Powell Park once, and we had so much fun.

“He helped me get my little MG car.

“We couldn’t have had a better dad!”

It was difficult to hold back tears as I read this. What a beautiful Father’s Day tribute to his dad.

On this special day, I’m so thankful that God not only gave me a wonderful father, but also blessed me with two sons — the first, exactly like his dad, and the second, like mine.

Being a father is a sacred role. Today, I thank and bless all fathers everywhere.

Peggy Toney Horton lives in Nitro.

Essays on Faith may be submitted to gazette@wvgazettemail.com.

Find more Essays on Faith at www.wvgazettemail.com/life/religion.

Funerals for Saturday, july 11, 2020

Bias, Mary - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Bsharah, Mary - 11 a.m., St. George Orthodox Cathedral.

Burkhart, Charlotte - 11 a.m., Kanawha Valley Memorial Gardens, Glasgow.

Cain, Dennis - 1 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation, Grantsville.

Holcomb, William - 10 a.m., Sunset Cemetery, Bickmore.

King, Ruth - 1 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home, Nitro.

McLeod, Julius - 3 p.m., streaming live, see obituary.

Null,  Virginia -11 a.m., Haven of Rest Memorial Gardens, Red House.

Parsons, Olivia - 5 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.

Pauley, William - 2 p.m., Kelly's Creek Community Church, Sissonville.

Surratt, Carol - 11 a.m.,  Tyler Mountain Funeral Home, Cross Lanes.

Webb, Betty - 3 p.m., Loudendale Freewill Baptist Church.