Since 1978 , Father’s day has been a difficult day for me. In December of 1977, I became a Christian and started attending church services every week. But I discovered the churches I have attended, honor Father’s by having special emphases in the message and by special prayer for all the fathers. It’s the right thing to do and it should be done. The problem is that I’m not a father. I remain seated with the women and the children, feeling isolated.
Being a father is biologically normal and it has happened since Adam and Eve. I understand fully the program God has set up to sustain the continuation of life on this planet. I am the one who is different and I have a degree of jealousy about it. I would have liked to have been a father. I would have liked to have tried to be a good role model; to have provided for and cared for and loved a son or a daughter or both. To have had my life carried on through my child or children.
But it was not God’s plan for me.
His plan for me was to be a son, a brother, and a husband. I’m not sure I’ve excelled at any of those positions, but I’ve tried. I have tried hard to be a follow the teaching of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and be obedient to Him.
From the sidelines, I have watched families for years. I have watched the attention and the lack of attention of parents have toward their children. In my first year of being a Christian, I was sent to Falls Creek to be a sponsor for our church youth. At 26 years old, I had never been to a camp before in my life, much less being responsible for someone else’s kids. I didn’t know very much about the Bible, at that point, but I did know this much, I sure enjoyed being with them. It may not have been in the sponsor’s handbook about wrestling with the guys and hanging them from the rafters of the front porch of the cabin, but that’s how it began. We had youth whose parents were involved with them. You could tell it from the way the kid reacted to your leadership. And we had kids, whose parents did not seem to be involved. The boy or girl was sent to camp to get them out of the house for a week to let someone else try to deal with them. That was evident as well.
I enjoyed going to camp with them, or playing softball with them, or to float the Illinois River in canoes, or going to Six Flags Over Texas. I enjoyed entertaining them or praying with them, but at the end of the day, they always went back home. And I went to my home with memories of sharing my life and love with them, maybe for a couple of days, maybe for a week.
I wonder what other kids life was like when I was a teenager?
My father was James Edward Elkins. He went by the name of Ed or Bud. He was 5′-11 and weighed about 135-140 pounds. He had a strong jaw line and wore his Army uniform well. He was one of fifteen children and I think he had a hard life. There would not have been church camps for Dad. My grandfather became a Christian when he was forty-five years old. He lived until he was either 104 or 105 years old. I suspect Dad had to start working from an early age and he was a hard worker all of his life. Dad was a plaster by trade. He was a Journeyman member of the International Association of Operative Plasterers & Cement Masons.
The emphasis during the time was to provide things for your family; a house, a car, but not much individual time with the children. I do not have memories of conversations with my Dad. I do remember going fishing with him twice in my life. He loved to fish. We went to Lake Isabella in California, when I was seven or so. I remember getting sick from the boat bobbing up and down. The next time was when I was around sixteen or seventeen. He had a small boat that we took out on Banks Lake in Washington. I didn’t fish. My task was to bail water from the bottom of the boat. He didn’t talk, but we were together and over forty years later, I remember being with him, of spending time with him.
He died a couple of years later. I don’t know that he knew how to communicate with me and I don’t know that he knew of any other methods, but I believe he did what he could with had was given him.
Terrie’s dad was Paul (no middle name) Baskin. Paul was about four years younger than my Dad. They never met and they seemed to live in different worlds.
Paul was an only child. His parents had divorced early in Paul’s life and he spent most of his childhood living with relatives. He was a Boys Scout. He was athletic and good in several sports and apparently, popular in high school. He went to Oklahoma State A & M, in Stillwater, playing football on the team.
Paul had joined the Army Air Corp and was a bombardier in a B-17 or B-29 bomber. He left the military with the rank of Major.
When I met him, he was an engineer for Western Electric and was just completing his education at Central State College, majoring in calculus and mathematics. He was in his late forties.
He was eccentric and so is my wife. He spent most of his time in his garage. He surrounded himself with things that he could create new objects or fix other things with. He loved classical music; America, his family, and he grew to love me. He spent time with me, he instructed me by showing me how to do things, and he invested in me by helping me further my education.
Both men were influential in my life. I had a certain amount of time to be with each of them. And I am thankful for that time.
So, Father’s Day is not about those who aren’t, but about those who are. Brothers, let me encourage you to cherish your days with your children and give them wonderful memories of a man who love them, who loved their Mother, and loved the Lord.