The last time I saw him

St. Augustine, Florida.  July 1978.  The last day I spent with my dad.

St. Augustine, Florida. July 1978. The last day I spent with my dad.

There are those times when you know you have to write about something and you just don’t want to. Father’s Day is one of those times. I’ve told the story before.

Maybe I’m in a melancholy mood because we took a quick trip to Southwest Virginia this weekend for the funeral of my wife’s uncle. We spent the night at my Mom and Stepdad’s house. It’s always good to visit, but always a reminder that things aren’t the way they used to be.

I see all of my friends posting pictures of their dads on Facebook. Some still have their dad with them. Many do not. The older I get, the more and more friends I find who have also lost their dads.

I do not miss the fact that being at the family home place for another family funeral was emotional for my wife. We don’t visit as often as we used to. We should. And we should take our boys there more often so that they understand their heritage.

Uncle Lonnie was laid to rest with full military honors in a family cemetery that has been there since the turn of the last century. It’s a beautiful setting high on a hill nestled between the mountains. As we walked around, we found ourselves wanting to know the stories and the connections behind the others buried there.

Long Spur, Virginia

Long Spur, Virginia

But, today is Father’s Day. It’s a weird one for us. One son is off on his first choir tour. One is working. Truth be told, if they aren’t here doing yard work for me, I’m happy with what they’re doing for Father’s Day. Vanessa is taking me to lunch then heading off on a trip of her own for a conference.

It’s all good. I’m an introvert and I’ve spent the weekend with people. I need time alone to recharge before I head downtown Monday to take names and kick butt. It’s another story that won’t be told here (at least not yet), but it’s time.

If not for that pesky yard that’s seen a lot of rain, I’d probably head up to the water park and rest myself in a lounge chair for the afternoon.

The picture with this post is from July of 1978. I was on tour with Future Hope, a student ministry team from Asbury (then College) University. We had a few days off in Georgia, so my parents came and we spent time with my cousin’s family in Florida. The morning before I headed back to tour, we spent a little time in St. Augustine. I’m sure there’s historical significance to the house we’re in front of. For me the significance is the last day I spent with him.

Later in the day I boarded the bus and made goofy faces out the window as my family waved goodbye. A little more than a week later, I got the call.

It’s hard to write these Father’s Day posts and make them about the wonderful memories. There are wonderful memories. Just not enough of them.

Still, I cherish the 20 years that I did have with him. And kick myself in the butt for not cherishing them more at the time.

The older I get the more I see in myself some of his personality traits. And every time my cousins see me they remind me that I look more and more like him. I’m okay with that.

I don’t believe in coincidences. On the way home from the funeral, after I couldn’t drive any longer, my wife took the wheel. She found Prairie Home Companion on the radio. It was their father’s day special. I missed the name of the artist who sang this Chet Atkins song. We both got a little quiet listening to it. But it says what this post is trying to say.

And, my dad loved Chet Atkins.



    • Lynn R. Mitchell on March 23, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Lost my dad when he was 51. I was 22. He loved Chet Atkins, too. So many memories missed by his early death. Father’s Day for me is always reflective … thanks for sharing.

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