Memories of My Father

Happy Father’s Day a few hours early. My wife and I, along with hundreds of other Richmond residents, have been without electricity since around 9:00 p.m. Thursday. So we have no Internet connection at home. We’re visiting a friend so we can shower for church tomorrow and are taking advantage of her electricity and Internet connection. I decided it would be better to post this now rather than take a chance on whether I would have the chance to do so tomorrow. We might go home and find the lights on…but we’re not counting on that, and Dominion Power isn’t even estimating when they’ll get to our neighborhood. Nonetheless, we’re fine and God is good.

SittingOnDishes0002   FatherPortrait    FamilyPicture   ParentsOlder

When I wrote a post about my mother around Mother’s Day, I realized I would probably want to do one about my father now. Unfortunately, it was easier to write warm things about her than about him.

Don’t get me wrong. Father was a fine Christian minister who cared deeply about the congregations he served. But that’s probably the problem–or a large part of it. Too often, pastors get so caught up in meeting others’ needs that they’re less attentive to the needs of their own families.

I recall a Christmas present he spent hours secretly putting together. He wasn’t good with his hands, and that was a real labor of love.

I also remember his taking me to the yard of my elementary school to ride my bike; we lived on a hill, and even the back yard sloped too much for easy riding. And I recollect the fun he had hiding a grandmother clock for my mother behind the studio couch in the den and making her search for it one Christmas. There’s no question he loved us.

But what I remember just as clearly–perhaps more so–was his home study door being closed. And even when it was open, he seemed inaccessible. Uninterruptible.

When I was a teen, he seemed to realize that he hadn’t spent nearly enough time with me doing daddy-type things. So he took me to Manteo, North Carolina, to see The Lost Colony, a well-known outdoor historical drama. Looking back now, I appreciate the thought, but at the time I’m not sure I considered it something I really wanted to do.

In 1972 I completed writing an hour-long rock opera called The Identity of Divinity. I invited my parents, who lived across the state from me, to come for the one performance. Since its production was my greatest accomplishment to date, I really wanted them to be there. But church came first. Although they sent a congratulatory telegram, it wasn’t the same.

As my parents aged and my father retired from the active ministry (he served as the interim minister of a number of churches until he couldn’t do it anymore), the three of us ended up living in the same city for the first time since college. So my first wife and I saw them on on a regular basis. And Kathleen and I now belong to one of the churches Father had served as interim pastor of.

Considering the number of questions I have about my early life–and about family history in general–I wish I’d been a more attentive listener. The knowledge of so many things I’m curious about died with him in 1993.

I have two particular memories from his final years. One was going with him to a special anniversary of his alma mater, William and Mary. He couldn’t have made the trip by himself, and I’m glad I could help him manage it. I can still see him sitting among other graduates wearing the doctoral robe he’d kept all those years. And I can still hear guest speaker Prince Charles laughing about his problems with Princess Diana, who was still alive at that time.

The other memory was of the day Mother called me at work. Father had fallen in the bathroom. He couldn’t get up and she couldn’t lift him. I drove over as quickly as I could, but I couldn’t get him up, either. We had to call the rescue squad.  I’ll always remember him on the bathroom floor.

No, life with my father didn’t leave me with a number of warm fuzzies, but you know what? It really doesn’t matter. He was a fine man and I’m proud of who he was. More important, he loved me, and I loved him.

Do you have anything you want to share about your father today? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.


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Best regards,

Like Father, Like Son

I don’t know how many sons see some of their fathers’ characteristics  in themselves, but I suspect some traits don’t show up until later in life. And when they do, it may take someone else’s observations to make a guy aware of them. Sometimes in ways we’d rather not be like our fathers.

My father was smart. Probably brilliant. He got a law degree from the College of William and Mary and practiced law several years before feeling the call to go back to school, get a seminary degree, and become a Christian minister.

I am reasonably intelligent, although I would never consider myself to be in his league. And I, too, have had multiple careers. Three professional careers prior to my retirement. And now four as a published author. And although I never felt called into the ministry, I share his love for missions and have been on a number of short term mission trips.

He loved reading and owned hundreds of books. Mostly Bibles and theology books of various kinds. I’m not nearly the bookworm he was–in fact, I tend to bog down when I try to read nonfiction–but I have quite a library of novels, many by authors I’ve met through the years.

He had musical talent. He enjoyed singing and participated in a community choir. That was one of his few non-church activities. And if the situation was sufficiently desperate, he could play the piano for hymn singing at the mid-week prayer service. But, the first to admit he was no musician, he did everything he could to avoid doing that. Having heard his piano playing, I understand why.

I seem to have done better in the music department. I’ve been playing guitar for over fifty years, writing my own songs, and singing and playing them. I’ve also been an amateur recording engineer, moving from a four-track analog recorder to an eight-track digital recorder over the years and using drum pads and keyboard sounds in my recordings, even though I would never claim to be a drummer or keyboardist. And I’ve been more outgoing in my desire to share my music with other people

He was no athlete. We were completely alike that way, although I did enjoy backyard baseball as a child. But my enjoyment didn’t make me good at it. I suspect we were pretty equal at preferring indoor activities to outdoors.

We shared a number of other qualities: shortness, baldheadedness, love of classical music, introversion, the bneed for hearing aids, a hatred of telephones… I could go on forev–

Huh? What do you mean I’m rambling just the way he did when he grew older? And telling some of the same stories over and over? You mean I’m like my father in those ways, too? Bite your tongue!

Are you especially like one of your parents? How about sharing in a comment?


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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,