Man, I am really struggling with this Father’s Day sermon deal. I don’t know why either. Maybe it’s some Freudian glitch and I just feel too guilty over my own failures as a father to feel like I could do it justice. Whatever it is I better catch a break soon or I may have to resort (gasp!) to trusting God for some direction. You know, that’s it. Trusting your “father” for direction is just a challenging thing, especially when you get older. The more you know, the more you prove how much you don’t know. Some silly thing God probably cooked up just to show us who’s God.
My dad was the hardest workingman I’ve ever known – 7th grade education and beyond brilliant when it came to building anything from house to hotels. I remember now the smell of bacon frying at 6:00 AM every morning and my dad yelling, “You up?” I’d yell back, “No!” I remember the smell of saw dust and sheetrock, and the feel of sticky humidity hitting you in the face as you walked out the house on those summer mornings during school break to go “to the job site.” I’d sleep all the way there praying the ride would take longer than usual. Then I was handed off to one of my uncles who would put me about the task of stuffing insulation in every orifice of the future home, or some other entry level job for the “bosses boy.” I think they took morbid delight in watching me sweep the floors, get that yellow cursed itchy stuff all over me (my uncle once told me it made a great place to take a break on; “Nice place for a nap, Timmy!”), and especially sending me to the store for drinks at break time.
There I stood. Cardboard in hand and with a pencil that was shorter than my father’s patience (Why is it that all carpenters had really short pencils? I thought, geeze, I’m a kid and I’ve got bigger pencils than these) waiting for the orders of RC Colas and Moon Pies along with the assorted “nabs” and occasional “chew” to bring back. The only good thing was, I got to keep the change, or make up for what wasn’t given. Most of the time it worked out for a profit though.
Great memories now. My dad would drive up on the job, stop, look at the building, and start speaking in “tongues.” At least it was words I’d never heard before. But I didn’t need an interpreter to tell me the gist of what he meant. One time he drove up, had that seemingly spiritual visitation, began muttering and jumped up on the scaffolding. He said, “Give me your knife,” as he pulled out his almost non-existent pencil from his lumber company pocket protector. I said, “I don’t have one.” He said, “Well, then give me your pencil.” I said, “Uh, I don’t have one.” He said, “Then what good are you. Go home!” That was the last time I ever came to the job ill prepared. To this day I hate to be unprepared. Gee, thanks dad.
My dad is a great man. He worked hard for my brothers, my mom, and me. Almost 60 years of marriage later they still laugh, fuss, and travel life together. I never went lacking for anything. Neither did my brothers. All of us came away with great work ethics and the sense that you can accomplish a lot in life if you treat people with kindness, respect, and honesty and will work your butt off.
To all the fathers out there – Thank you! While 40% of the children in this country are being raised without an at-home dad, those of you, like my dad, that stick it out, really make a difference. Here’s to you!