As I write this, it is Father’s Day. Memories of my father come to me. He died 15 years ago at the age of 86. My dad was an alcoholic and he smoked most of his life and so I was surprised that he lived as long as he did.
He spent his entire career with Greyhound Bus Company. For most of those years, he was a driver. For the other years, he was the Terminal Manager for the Nashville hub. I spent a lot of time at that hub with him as a kid. All the drivers knew who ”Jimbo” was. It was almost like I was an honorary employee.
I would ride along with him frequently on his run to Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He would drive to Hopkinsville, where he would have a 5-hour layover, and then drive back. It was during those layovers that he taught me to play pool. There was a pool hall down the street from the bus station there and it was one of those that you had to pay by time rather than 25 cents a game. So my dad would challenge me into the game with the loser having to pay. He would make all his balls except the last one and just wait for me to get caught up. Then he would make his last ball. His version of torture. I had to pay. Lesson learned.
I also noticed how much the people on his run liked him. He very often carried the same people back and forth from Nashville and Hopkinsville. One of those was W. C. Link, who was attending Vanderbilt Divinity School. He would go on to be the founder of McKendree Manor—now known as McKendree Village. W. C. would never see me without saying something about those bus rides with my dad.
He was also a hunter. That was something he shared with my brother more than me. I did some hunting, but I didn’t have a passion for it like they did. But he did teach me how to hunt and how to use firearms safely and respectfully. We did more fishing together than hunting and that was always a good time with just him and me.
Both my brother and I were athletes in school and he made time to come watch us play. One of my lasting memories of him was having him there at the Regional Jr. College tennis tournament. He knew nothing of tennis, but he spent the day there outside the courts in a lawn chair watching.
Looking back, the most precious thing was time. It has been rightly said that you spell love, “T-I-M-E”. My father wasn’t perfect. I’m guessing yours wasn’t either. But much of who we are we get from them. So today—and this week—be sure to offer a prayer for your father. If necessary in memory, but hopefully in the present. Try to give back some of that “time”. As a father, I am aware of how precious time with children is.