Unlocking The Past
My Father, The Man I Have Come To Understand
There is so much in our lives as children which we do not understand. In my case, the most bewildering was my father.
The pastor, at his funeral, spoke of him as being a "tough love." The man, as I knew him when a child, was just that. I spent the first twenty years of my life trying, in vain I felt, to please him and the next twenty-four years running from the memory.
How does someone explain to a young girl what kept her father from holding her, why he could never show the pride he felt in her accomplishments, or say "I love you," openly? I understand, now, that he was never given these things during his childhood and just didn't know how to show his emotions as an adult. He could not talk about what he was really feeling inside, even when he was hurting. He had erected an imaginary wall around his emotions to keep them safe, many years before I knew him.
By the time I was in my forties, I had given up any hope of our relationship improving. But I was soon to find out that God was not finished with us.
In 1995, my father was diagnosed with Terminal Cancer, with only a few weeks left of life on this earth. When I received the news, though I hadn't seen him in five years, I immediately packed and traveled from Florida to South Carolina, to my parent's home.
As soon as I arrived, he asked me if I would consider staying for several weeks to help my mother, who was, by this time, very tired from caring for him. I was pleased to help but bewildered, as well, that he had ask. However, in the days that followed, God opened doors for each of us that we had nailed shut years before.
My father and I spent hours actually talking and, more important, listening to each other. Any real communication had been non-existent between us for as long as I could remember. He told me so many things I wish he had shared with me during my childhood because it would have helped me to understand him, before so many years had been wasted.
For the first time in my life, I was able to say to him, "I love you," and truly feel the glow of it. I was able to hug him and forget my tears.
And, to my astonishment, he was able to do the same. With tears in his eyes, he told me how much he loved me and how important I had always been to him. At that moment, I saw the attempts he had made, which I had missed, during those early years. I could see the things he had done for me out of love and understand, as an adult, what I had been unable to comprehend as a child.
I will always long for the joy that forty-four years of silence took from our lives but I thank God for the last three weeks of my father's life. I thank Him for the sleepless nights of worry, for the sore muscles from lifting his weight when he was too weak to help me, for the time spent holding his hand, and the look in his eyes, though he couldn't speak, as he recognized me and knew I was still there. I am thankful for the memory etched in my mind of the feel of his hair as I ran my fingers through it and even the memories and smells of his passing that stay with me. And I am most thankful for the love God was finally able to explain to me when I was ready to listen.
There were no tears in my eyes at the funeral for I had shed them years before. All that was left that day was the joy of finally having really known my father and for the chance I was given to unlock the door to both our hearts and allow each to be filled with memories to be cherished.
God is there to give what is needed, in His own time.
(Postscript: My father died of Cancer on April 18, 1995, at the age of 69.)
"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal."
From a headstone in Ireland
"IT IS YOU, I WANT TO SEE"
by Eugenia S. Hunt
A father always sees himself
With strength and solid stance.
A world to conquer piece by piece,
Having answers in advance,
To all the needs along the way
That face his family,
From lifting high his child in play
To how the world should be.
But, Daddy, walk slower, please
And give me time to know,
The person deep inside the man,
The one you never show.
I want to see the man who loves
Me more than life itself.
Take a moment from your day
To lift him from the shelf.
Let me see deep down inside
Where no one else can see,
The world within that heart of yours
So, like him, I can be.
The one who loves me more than self,
Who hurts to see me cry,
The man who smiles within himself
Just watching me walk by.
Don't be afraid for me to see,
I need to know him well.
You see, some day, I'll need his strength,
My child, I have to tell,
How to walk along her path
Holding her father's hand,
So she will see within his heart
His love to understand.
A father always sees himself
With strength and solid stance.
A world to conquer piece by piece,
Having answers in advance.
But, just this once, dear father,
Reveal yourself to me.
Just this once, let down your guard,
For it is you, I want to see.
(Photo: My father and our family companion, Patsy)
As A Young Man
Men of my father's day sometimes had difficulty relating to their loved ones because they were brought up in difficult times, as children. They had to be tough to survive.
Growing up in the small town of Maysville, Georgia, the second child of four, my Father was a young boy during the depression. He had to quit school in the fifth grade to work on their farm to help the family. During the summer, he would hunt rabbit to sell their pelts. He also searched for bicycle parts, rebuilding old bicycles to sell for extra money.
At the age of seventeen, he enlisted in the Navy, pretending to be 18, so that they would take him. After World War II, where he was in charge of the big guns aboard the USS Washington, he served under Admiral Byrd. He was aboard ship for Admiral Byrd's second trip to the Antarctic in 1946-47 called Operation Highjump, officially titled The United States Navy Antarctic Developments Program. He was so very proud to be a part of their amazing discoveries of the south pole.
BRINGING UP FATHER
When I was a child of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
The Life He Lived
Who Was He?
Ed Sims...This was it...his entire name...six letters. I used to tease my grandmother that Daddy only got one name because Uncle Billy was only 22 months old when Daddy was born...she didn't have time for more than one name!
Daddy was the kind of man whom you could always count on. If he gave his word, nothing could keep him for keeping that promise to you. He took pride in always paying his bills on time and never purchased on credit. He believed in paying cash and, if he didn't have cash, then he waited to purchase until he did.
My father worked very hard all his life and was a phenomenal financial supporter of our family. This was how he showed his love for us. Now, as an adult, I know this to be true.
His belief in God was evident in the way he lived his life and the values he instilled in his family.
Frills were never his way. Things in his life were always kept basic. However, he did love a pretty automobile!
Loving to tell a good joke, you could hear laughter surrounding him whenever he found himself in a crowd or even with just two or three friends.
I remember how much he loved to talk and I find I have inherited that same gift of gab. At times, this can be very difficult to channel. I, too, delight in the laughter of others.
When I think back over the years, I realize he raised me to think like a man. I sometimes tell people that I was my "father's only son." I know, it makes them laugh, too, but there is a great deal of truth in the statement.
He was a very intelligent man whose lack of education always bothered him. He had to quit school after the fifth grade to help support the family during the depression. However, I found him to be far more intelligent than some of those known to have a great deal of "book learning." Common sense was the basis of his knowledge, common sense coupled with life.
Daddy was a Man's Man and they were a tough breed, becoming scarce as the years pass. But they were good men who raised good kids and I am proud to be one of those good kids. I am proud that he was my father.
TO MY FATHER
It matters not that Time has shed
His thawless snow upon your head,
For he maintains, with wondrous art,
Perpetual summer in your heart.
William Hamilton Hayne
Who Is Mom To The Zoo?
Born in the small town of Pendleton, South Carolina, in 1950, I was the oldest of two, five years my sister's senior. It was a wonderful place to grow up where the entire town raised its children. I was always surrounded by people who loved and looked out for me. I graduated from High School with the same people who were in my kindergarten class. At 58, my childhood friends are still my friends. I feel so fortunate to have known such a childhood.
After college, I worked at Clemson University until May 1972. At that time, I married and lived in Glyfada, 22 miles from Athens, Greece for two years...via USAF. We then moved to North Dakota for another two years before returning to South Carolina.
We divorced after 16 years and two children. I married my best friend two years later and moved to Florida in 1988 and together we have raised my husband's son and daughter and my son and daughter...one federal officer, one pastor's wife, one sixth grade school teacher, and the other, after working for Florida Power and Light since age 19, is now with AT&T. In 1996, I adopted my stepdaughter. We are blessed with four grandsons and one granddaughter.
In 1999, we became foster parents with the Children's Home Society and had a number of children under our roof in the next 5 years. In 2001, we adopted a 13 year old girl, whom we first met at the age of 11, and is now 21. I also have spent more time in a courtroom than I care to think about, fighting for the rights of the children in our care. In 2004, I turned in my license so that I could be a full time Mom to our special needs daughter and keep our infant granddaughter five days a week while her mother was teaching.
Bill, my husband, is a retired USAF Air Traffic Controller. He is now working out of the country, on Ascension Island, with Computer Science Raytheon, as their chief controller, contracted out of Patrick AFB, Florida. This enables him to continue to do the job he loves, air traffic, and aid the military. He flies in and out on furlough and I handle things here at home. I jokingly call myself a Single Married Woman.
Actually, I am a retired Accountant/Credit Manager, now a housewife, where I enjoy writing, singing, piano, and sewing. I have had numerous poems and short stories published and have sung in churches and for church organizations for years, as well as weddings, a couple of variety shows, and even at my daughter's, and later my son's, weddings, one of the hardest things I have EVER done. We are members of a Baptist church where I am a soloist and sing in the choir. I am also a member of the Women's Bible Study Group and work on the Mission's Committee.
And, last but not least, we have two singing dogs. Raven is a thirteen year old Skipperkee/Chow with bucked teeth and attitude and Whisper, our nine pound poodle, who thinks himself a Doberman.
I have been Mom To The Zoo since the morning after our wedding. My friend, Lee, who was staying with our four children and two dogs answered the phone from a sound sleep, "Hunt Zoo, Zookeeper Speaking."
My life has involved many changes and avenues that I would never have dreamed of and has given me challenges that I never thought I was equal to. But, I have found that God has a plan and, if you follow His lead, you can handle anything he puts in your hands. However, you have to first learn to listen to Him. No matter what we want from life, it must come in His time. He has given my husband and me more than we could have began to imagine back in high school and we have found that what we thought was so important for our futures back then was nothing to what we have done so far. At 58, I have learned from our foster children, to look forward to the future and the next challenge with enthusiasm and excitement. If they can trust and love us after what the world has dealt them, we can surely tackle whatever lies ahead with ease. Life is a series of learning experiences and I continue to find life to be both a challenge and a joy which grows with each passing year. I learn more and more about myself with each passing day!
We all have memories worth sharing with someone else. You will be surprised at how many will relate to your story and want to add theirs. It is good to remember and share!
So, below, rather than telling me how much you liked my lens, tell me about your father in dedication of this Father's Day 2009! He deserves it!!