Sunday, June 9, 2013

Father's Day Stirs My Memories

Father’s Day brings back memories to all of us. My own father worked hard in a cotton mill in Georgia for over 40 years. He was a Shift foreman much of that time. We lived in a mill house right across from the mill. Fatherhood must have been hard for him because he was almost deaf. He had a serious ear infection as a child and he lost his hearing early. So—he and I had a difficult time. I found it hard to talk to someone who could barely understand. He had a hard time hearing and responding. There was a great silence between us. Like most people with a severe hearing loss he kept to himself much of the time.

I don’t remember much of what we did together. We would take long walks in the woods on Sunday. That was about it. But on this Father’s Day I have a memory of my father that still shine after all these years. I heard Billy Graham who was just becoming famous, was holding a crusade in Atlanta. I wanted to go bad. But I had never been to Atlanta. We did not have a car and I thought that this was just a dream. Not so. My father found out that the crusade would begin October 29. The year was 1950. I was a sophomore in High School. He told me we were going to hear Billy Graham in Atlanta. We were going to ride a train which would be the first for me. So early Sunday morning we took the city bus down to the Train station. A friend, Bob met us there. The three of us boarded the Hummingbird and away we went.

The excitement of the train ride must have been as exciting as the trip to Atlanta. Finally the train stopped and we found out where we could take a bus to Ponce de Leon Park where the Atlanta Crackers played baseball. We ate hot dogs in the parking lot and found our way inside. There were 35,000 people there. I remember where we sat—way back where you could hardly see but we were there. And I don’t remember the sermon but I do remember the day. After the service ended, we took another bus back down to the Atlanta train station, boarded our train and came home.

It might not seem like much—but that trip was a momentous time in my life and the life of my friend. We both found ourselves years later in the ministry and serving churches. But the point is: My Daddy tired though he was on the weekends after working six hard days in the mill he arranged that trip to please his boy. He made little money and those train tickets even back then must have been a sacrifice.

And so on this day when fathers good and bad are remembered—I look back on a bus trip to the train station and my first train ride to Atlanta. I remember hearing Billy Graham. But what I remember most of all was that it never would have happened without my father. And this is what I remember more than anything this Sunday morning. 

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