A few days ago, my uncle Troy Henager texted me. He said, “Father’s Day is just around the corner and I was remembering some of the things your dad used to say.”
You see, Troy is only three years older than me and we both worked at D&F Battery & Electric from about the age of 12 until we each left home. That was Dad’s business in Mineral Wells, his baby. So, he was like a second dad to Troy, I guess.
David Strother could be a hard task master and a grumpy one at that. He had some rather colorful language at his disposal. He would never say the “really bad” words that begin with awful letters like F or G or M or anything. But he would throw down a “damn,” a “hell,” and a few more when he was of a mind.
Dad was an effective communicator. He was highly intelligent. He was also homegrown, homespun and down home. Which means he had an idiom or two in his jargon.
If you asked to pick Dad’s brain, he would say, “If you picked my nose, you would get more.”
If you challenged Dad in some way, he would warn you would be better off “hunting bear with a switch.”
If you were given to lying your way out of stuff, “You would rather climb a tree and lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth.”
If you made an overly bold claim, he would counter, “You will mess and fall back in it, too.”
If you were really bad he might threaten to “knock you into the middle of next week” or “kick your butt so hard, you will have to take off your shirt to…”
If a man was a spendthrift, he was “so tight he squeaked when he walked.”
If Dad was irritated, he might say, “My butt needs a dip of snuff.”
(I know. I have no idea what that one meant either.)
Dad liked to sing, too. He would sing to Mom, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You.”
On road trips, my younger sister would pester him until he sang, “In 1814, we took a little trip along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip…”
In church, there were some songs Dad liked a lot. You could tell them, because his strong Baritone voice would be heard distinctly.
There is Power in the Blood.
And, my favorite to hear his voice above the crowd on: Farther Along.
Of course, when I was young, I thought it was Father Along. I figured Dad fathered along pretty well.
My Dad was mercurial, to say the least. He was also playful, lovable, life-of-the-party bombastic, loyal, faithful and a damn good dad.
Dad died on March 28, 1991 at the age of 51 years and eight days. Come October 7, 2012, I will be one day older than Dad ever was (providing, as Dad would say, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.”) I still miss him and there are times every week I wish I could ask his advice.
I don’t know why some dads have to go so soon. It makes no sense to me. But if I picked a bone with my Heavenly Father over everything that didn’t make sense to me, I wouldn’t do anything but pick bones. The fact is, if it all made sense to me, if I had all the answers, I wouldn’t have needed a good, wise Dad and I wouldn’t have a whole lot of use for faith, either.
All I know is, while I am here, I want to just father along the best way I know how.
Life is a matter of perspective, and…
Farther along, we’ll know all about it
Farther along, we’ll understand why
Cheer up my brother
Live in the sunshine
We’ll understand it
All by and by.
In closing, I would like to say something to my girls and my grandson and any future grandchildren that might come along. I remember once, when the question of how much Dad loved me came up, he, as always had the answer.
“Son, how much do you think is enough?” asked Dad.
“I dunno,” says I.
“Well, when you figure out how much is enough, you multiply it by ten hundred thousand. I love you that much.”
I leave you with my Mom’s favorite singer singing one of Dad’s favorite songs…