Happy Father’s Day, Howie!

20 06 2021

One of the attributes I enjoy about social media like Facebook and Instagram is seeing how folks celebrate holidays especially ones that have a personal touch such as the one we just observed, Father’s Day. I love reading all the memories and tributes each writer bestows on their beloved dad, almost always accompanied by a picture of this loved one. The parents of most of my friends who share my age demographic have passed on, and they’ll put up a pic of when they were young alongside the man they loved and called dad. That never fails to bring a smile as I recognize many of these men from when I was young.

Eventually this leads to thoughts of the man that had I been given the chance would have called Dad. The “gentleman” in question took a liking to my mom in ‘53. They had a wonderful time together, going out on dates, enjoying each other’s company, and making plans for the future. Sadly, those plans quickly vanished into the air (along with good old dad) when it was realized Ma was pregnant with me. As the old 70s saying goes, ‘He slapped it into B for boogie and headed out of town,’ never to darken our door again. So, when Father’s Day rolls around, I pretty much stay in the background until it passes. Afterall, here was someone I really didn’t know, so what could I say about this man? I do have a picture of him later in life with a horse he loved.  When I look at it, I must admit a thought laced with levity comes to mind seeing this man and his horse. I won’t tell you what it is; you may draw your own conclusions. You could get the idea that I must really hate old Howie (a name I gave him instead of Dad), but truthfully; I felt nothing. Hate, love, anger, betrayal, you name the emotion and I can honestly say I’ve never felt it toward him.  I’m told that’s it’s an inborn type of coping mechanism that protects me from any bad feelings. Whatever, I just know that the man never meant anything to me, that is until I was challenged one day.

I was with a group of young men in a Bible study and one day the leader asked us all to name a positive attribute we received from our father. Each had something very special and precious to say about their dads and tried to emulate something they had learned. When they got to me, all I could say, “Sorry guys, never met the man so he had no impact on my life.” When the session was over the leader had me stay to question me more about Howie. After I told him my story he said, “Okay, I can understand why you feel the way you do. But I believe there are no accidents and that every person that has a part in our lives was placed there by God. Sometimes we have to dig a little and pray a lot to find out why.” I spent the next several days pondering his words and wondering what can I attribute in a positive fashion to a man I never knew. I didn’t know where to dig, but I did know how to pray. Boom Baby!

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

The more I studied on Howie, the more I realized it wasn’t what he did in my life to leave a positive mark, it’s what he didn’t do. I believe it was C.S. Lewis that I read this comment, “No matter how we’re raised, rich, poor, scholarly or illiterate, in the finest home in a posh neighborhood, or a mud hut in a remote village in the rain forest; we all have one thing in common. We all have the ability to recognize right from wrong. If I wrong you in such a way that it brings harm, be it physical or emotional, you don’t have to have anyone explain to you what happened. You instinctively know you’ve been wronged because it brought discomfort. The question then becomes, what do we do with that knowledge? Do we say I will never bring that type of pain on someone, or do we go and do likewise?

Howie met a young girl and was interested in a physical relationship only. That helped teach me when I met the love of my life to see more than just what I could get out of the bond, but what I could do to make her happy. He made her believe he wanted a future with her. I knew, by the Grace of God, I would have a future with my Lady. When Ma became pregnant, he turned and walked away. When Cathy came to tell me, she was expecting our 1st child, there were tears–tears of joy from both of us. And as I grew, he made sure never to be a part of my life. And for the last 42 years, one of the greatest privileges I could be bestowed was to be a part of my children and now grandchildren’s lives. For the last 48 years I have grown old loving the same women even more than when we began our lives together. For the 1st time in my life, I came to see the treasure I received from dear old dad, not by what he gave me, but by not following in his example. As I’ve said in previous writings, “Hey Howie, whether you know it or not, ya did good!!”

“Coincidence is not an appropriate word to describe the workings of an omniscient God,” Neal A. Maxwell.

This “Traveler of the Rock Road” has a lot to be thankful for over his life, the highs as well as the lows. Just took me a while to realize the blessings I received those many years ago from good old Howie. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

See ya next time.




One response

21 06 2021

I like it, John. The best example some can leave us is what NOT to do. I’m glad you never did what you earthly father did—walk away. Thankfully, our Heavenly Father will never do that either. Blessings.

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