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Father’s Day, and memories

“When my father didn’t have my hand, he had my back.”

– Linda Poindexter

I hope it shows to the world that one of the most significant influence on the values I live by today is my father. His guidance and support gave me the courage to soldier my way through military school, to finish college, and his words of encouragement and reassurance gave me the fortitude to realize that one day I’d have to resume my education.

When I was 21, my dad asked me to sit down with him and discuss what I planned on doing with my life. I will never forget the fear I felt talking about leaving home to be a writer. I wasn’t scared of my dad’s reaction, but of how he felt about me having to start taking responsibility for my life. In that conversation, he explained to me that an education was the most valuable tool I could acquire, and that without it I would struggle through life continuously attempting to make ends meet.

My dad realized that I had neither the discipline nor the desire to continue with school at that time. He told me the world was filled with a wide range of opportunities for me, and though I may fail at times, I must not allow setbacks to discourage me from achieving my goals.

“The top of one mountain is just the bottom of another,” he’d say. “Keep climbing.”

From that one conversation with my dad I learned that if I were unsuccessful in my primary goals and endeavors, there were always alternatives that can be just as meaningful and rewarding. I realized then that I alone am responsible for the choices I make, the lessons I learn from those decisions, and how one day I would have to pass them on farther down the line.

That conversation is just one example of how my dad influenced me. He molded me into who I am and who I hoped to be in the future. To have a good father is a blessing from God and I was blessed to have had my father in my life despite such a short period, but long enough to make me into somebody who matters.

My dad wasn’t much of an outdoorsman. He didn’t hunt and he didn’t fish; the latter because he too easily became sea-sick, even around lakes and ponds. He loved the Tuskegee (University) Alabama Tigers and vicariously, through me, the UNC Tar Heels. But most of all he loved his family, and he loved the Lord.

My dad was a very involved father. We were a small bunch, but we did tons of things together as a family. We traveled a lot and made so many fun memories. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.

My most memorable trips were the ones every summer to youth camps. 4-H Camp trips came from my mother, but FFA (Future Farmers of America) camp was just me and Dad.

I thought of him as a best friend, but one with a lot of stricter rules. As mentioned, when I got older and entered the professional world, I often looked to him for advice and I always trusted his advice. He was the first person I would go to in any business situation, from my early newspaper route to my entrepreneurial efforts today.

The first Fathers’ Day without my dad was hard on me because of how empty it felt not to be buying a Father’s Day card or making that Sunday afternoon phone call. From the year of his passing on, I try to visit the cemetery and when there I just meditate in silence, thinking about all of the wonderful memories and experiences we had together; especially during the summertime.

Truthfully, I totally didn’t realize Fathers’ Day was coming this year until a couple of weeks ago. But rather than fight melancholy, I try to be a glass half full kind of person, focusing on the amazing times I did have with my dad. I remember the good times, laugh at the funny times, and try to forgive the bad times. I will never forget the amazing man I called Daddy, and will be forever grateful for the 22-plus years of my life that I had with him.

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at: gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.