“Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.” ~ Harper Lee
There are many standards by which we might judge the men who helped bring us to life. But, for lots of people, their fathers’ performance fell short of hopes. The line, spoken to young Scout by Reverend Sykes in “To Kill A Mockingbird” is one of the most simple yet profound ones ever uttered in the movies.
Atticus Finch fought the good fight. And that, regardless of outcomes, merits enduring respect. What more can we expect from our fathers?
I was one of the fortunate ones. My Dad, Ken Jones, was a great, gentle and loving giant who lived life to the fullest. He made time to take with me him every Sunday as we went on some kind of adventure (often playing hooky from church).
He was always able to demonstrate his love in words and actions, unlike many men who had come back scarred from battle in World War II. I would squirm as he often posed his question; “Who loves ya baby?” to which I had to reply “Daddy loves me.” How embarrassing!
He was patient but firm and I made it my mission to avoid disappointing him. He loved playing cards with me and my friends when we were teenagers and college kids, always taking us for every dime in the poker pot. I could go on and on.
It’s strange though. I have found it pretty easy to talk about Dad, and to tell stories about him, but have never written about him in my blogs or columns. In fact, I have never written about Father’s Day at all. Maybe because putting it down on paper makes his loss more real or maybe because I didn’t come close to measuring up as a father myself. I’m not sure which. But I do know that I was no Ken Jones.
It was a Wednesday, late in the afternoon, in September of 1975 when I pulled into my parent’s driveway to find neighbors gathered on the lawn and an ambulance from Pape Funeral Home in front of the garage. My first thought was this; “I hope it’s not Dad.”
But it was. I was 24 and he was 66 when he died. Both of us were too young. Dad fought the good fight. Whether our fathers lived up to our expectations or not, perhaps that is the best gift they can give us. Stand up Scout.
Robert Kenneth Jones
Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.
In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.
His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.
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Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast