He and my mom reared a total of ten children—seven sons and three daughters. Many of them were born and grew up in the Depression years of the 1930s. I was born during the mid-1940s as the second youngest child. I had him on my mind and thought I would put fingers to keyboard for a moment and reflect upon some memories that have stayed with and influenced me over the years—memories of a dad who loved and cherished his children and grandchildren and who taught us so many things by way of example.
Dad worked in a brickyard, operating boilers. This was a back-breaking job he did for decades. It required him to do shift work for many years as his daily routine, and not once over the course of almost three decades did he ever miss a shift. For all of us, he set a shining example as a hard worker, dedicated to the care and welfare of his family.
Despite his long and irregular work hours and the erratic sleep patterns caused by such schedules, Dad always found time to spend with his children. I have fond memories of summertime in particular, when he would take his young sons to a beach and play a game of “rocks”—where the object was simply to throw rocks into small crater-like holes from a distance. Dad was very good at it, and he showed us how to have family fun with the simplest of things. Those times with him were very special.
The time I spent with him was a time of security, and a time of pride that he was my father.
He taught us boys how to saw and how to hammer, and how to pull and straighten nails. Heading up a household during the depression required him to “waste not.” I straightened hundreds of bent nails as a young boy under this philosophy. He also taught us how to build a porch, putty a window, and plant a garden.
Indeed, fathers play a special role in family growth, instruction, and development. The Bible gives important instruction to both the father of a family and to his children: “Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding” (Proverbs 4:1, NASB).
Fathers have a responsibility to impart understanding to their children—not only in physical matters, but in spiritual matters as well. This includes directing their children in developing a relationship with their heavenly Father. In addition, fathers are instructed, “Fathers do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, NASB). Fathers must show patience and understanding during each child’s development, and always point their sons and daughters to God’s word as the prime source of instruction.
I look forward to seeing Dad in the not-too-distant future. At that time, I will give him a special, heartfelt “thank you” for his dedication to our family. So, fathers, set the pace and set the example—neither you nor your children will forget it.