Over the years I have had the opportunity of using this column on Father's Day to write about my father, my three sons and their families, and my seven grandchildren. In 2007, I wrote about how proud I was of my sons and how they have grown into men who love and care for their families and their children.
Whenever I have the opportunity to speak somewhere, I tell the crowd that my three sons can fill all of your needs. I say, "One is a blues singer and he will entertain you at your Saturday night event." Actually he sings mostly at Blues concerts and four nights a week at Downtown Disney.
I go on to say that "if you still have the Blues after your Saturday adventure, my youngest son who is a minister and professor of religion at Atlanta University's Interdenominational Theological Center can preach to you and set you free with the Word of God."
I then go on to say that "my third son, who is my middle son, works for the Sheriff's Department and if you get completely out of hand on your Saturday night adventure, he may be obligated to lock you up. And, of course, if you get locked up you are going to need a good lawyer, so call me."
That is the comical version of my family based on the truth of who the men in my family are. And yes I am proud about it. The other men in my family are my father and my brother, both of whom have gone on. At the time of their deaths I was naturally sad about it, especially my brother who left us at the age of 63. My Dad was 69, but I can say that they did a good job of fatherhood before leaving us.
My memories of them are precious to me. Their lives are the stuff that lessons are made of. Their lives are based on the choices they made in spouses to mother their children. My father, of course, made the best choice in the world, i.e., my mother. My brother's wife, well, that is another story. They both, however, left their children at a time when we could fend for ourselves with the lessons we needed to survive. After all is said and done, that is what we are supposed to do as fathers.
Fathers should: (1) provide the seed for reproducing ourselves; (2) train up our children in the way of the Bible so that when we are old we will not depart from the ways of our earthly father nor depart from the will of our heavenly father; and (3) as we depart, as we all must do, we should leave a legacy they can be proud of and build on. Then we can leave this world knowing that our heavenly father will receive us saying "Well done."
This past week at Reverend Roland Jenneford's funeral, I was struck by the love that people spoke about. But I was struck by the choir's rendition of the spiritual, "I Won't Complain." The song is about life having some good times and some bad times, and it muses about having some hills to climb, but then it says in the end when we stop and look things over, all of our good times outweigh our bad times and so we say, "Thank you Lord, I won't complain."
As a father I've tried to do God's will by my family, and yes, there has been some good times and there has been some bad times, but I've tried to develop a legacy my children can be proud of, and I pray that when someone says there goes Joe's sons, or grandchildren, there will be no reason for them to complain.
For that I say on this Father's Day, "Thank you Lord."
Happy Father's Day!