The childhood of this little boy born months before the event we historically see as the beginning of the Great Depression bridged some of the darkest years our nation has ever known. His mother gave birth to seven children before his arrival, and buried four of them at various ages. The son of a sharecropper, his meals often consisted of a biscuit for breakfast, a biscuit for lunch and supper (as Southerners have called the evening meal) would be whatever the family’s farming provided.
He attended a schoolhouse with several grades in one room and pulled close to a pot-bellied stove to keep warm in the winter.
Just out of high school, he imagined his life would be spent working in the local textile mill, but circumstances led to his joining the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. Later offered officer’s training, he declined because he was home sick.
On his homecoming, he learned about the GI Bill. It’d be hard with a family to support, but for years he worked full time at the textile mill and went to college.
I’d be there to stand with my dad as we had our picture made just after he received his college diploma. I was four, and it is one of my few early memories, but I recall a sunny day and the green grassy slopes surrounding the community college nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
My dad eventually became a banker and provided the financial resources for both my sister and me to attend college. In his seventies, he ran for county commissioner, won, and served his community for several years. He never became well known beyond that community, but I am grateful for the sacrifices he made for us, his desire to serve, and the example of perseverance in the midst of hardship he established. He is definitely a hero in our hearts.
A Sunday school teacher for dozens of years, he has now gone on to be with the Lord. In his later years, sometimes the memories grew as faded as the photographs, but on a birthday a few years before his death, I discovered precious ones remained, as my dad passed another lesson on to me.
I knew it would be an uneventful birthday, because I was out of state with Jerry while he was having radiation treatment when he had prostate cancer. We’d already planned to celebrate as a family when we returned, so, Jerry and I tried to make the best of an odd sort of Sunday. After an early church service, as we sat down for lunch, I noticed a cell phone message from my dad. I pressed play:
“Beverly, it’s ten o’clock on a Sunday morning. So many years ago, you were born on a Sunday morning about six-thirty. And I called to wish you a Happy Birthday, today.”
As the tears rolled, I pressed play again and let Jerry listen.
“How many Dads remember what day of the week their children are born on?” Jerry asked.
“I’d almost forgotten I was born on a Sunday.” The only reason I ever remember at all is the little poem about birthdays. I liked my day. “Sunday’s child is full of grace…”
How many Dads would remember? I don’t know, but mine did. He remembered a Sunday morning baby just waking to the world. He remembered she weighed ten pounds, eight ounces, and that she dwarfed all the other babies in the nursery. He remembered and it made my birthday so many years later a special one.
I made a note to remember for my own children’s sake—to tell them the stories that have shaped their lives. The details matter.
My dad’s caring gave me a greater understanding of my Heavenly Father, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you” (Psalm 139:17-18).
God remembers and unlike our finite earthly fathers, he is always thinking of us. Nonstop. For those like me who are without Fathers because of death or some other reason, that is good news.
No matter the circumstances concerning your earthly father, remember God the Father has his eye on you.
May your Father’s Day be blessed.
“As a Ford model during the 1980’s, the New York fashion world was my world. Beverly’s encouraging stories of how God moved in that sphere help us realize that no matter where we are— even on Seventh Avenue--God wants to use us for His glory.” Nancy Stafford Actress (“Matlock”), Speaker, and Author
Faith in the Fashion District by Beverly Varnado
A key can open more than a door.
The Key to Everything by Beverly Varnado. In print and ebook.