Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fathers

The Wilkersons in 1942
(I'm the one with the bald head and bare feet)

Some fathers are strong--they lift.

When Dad was 12, his father was killed in an accident. Dad quit school and worked so his siblings could stay in school. I was born in the back of his country store; then Dad (with Mom's help) built our house--obtaining plumber's and electrician's licenses as needed. He dealt in antiques and owned several farms.

At 40, he went to college. At 46, he graduated from Southeastern Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC and became a full-time Baptist minister--his dream. I think he was a minister long before he earned his degree.

When he was dying, he said "Tell Estelle (my mother) that it's beautiful." I think he might have been in heaven before his last breath.

He taught us that learning never ends; to stand for what we believe; to carry turtles to the other side of the road; and to act silly at least once a day.

18 comments:

  1. What a beautiful tribute to your energetic and giving Father. Even in the photo- he is full of life and vigor. Such a large man- in stature and emotional force. I wish I had known him- he leaves an impression even now.

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  2. Thanks, Pam. Distance gives perspective. He was very strict, but we kids did know that he would always come to our defense.

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  3. Your Dad was a super-wonderful one (as you well know) and your post in his memory made me smile (even though I had a pang of jealousy). I wish people realized how much a Dad helps them..well, you do!

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  4. Wow! This is beautiful, Hallie! I'm choked up.

    -Don

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  5. Your father was a remarkable man, worthy of this meaningful tribute and much more. How fortunate you are to have had such a father and to realize it!

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  6. Hi Celeste--thanks. It took many years to realize I was lucky. I was anxious to get out and live without rules, but lessons learned as a child stick. I stayed by his bed for several days before he died; and I thanked him.

    Don. Don't choke--have a great Father's Day. I graduated from high school the same year Dad graduated from seminary--I almost escaped the rebel-building label of P.K.

    Kathy. What's remarkable is that Dad never told us about his hard early life--I learned about it from his younger brothers, after he died. My parents told us the humorous stories from their pasts--not the sad ones.

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  7. I have a soft spot for fathers because I lost mine when I was only thirty - long before I could look upon him with the wise eyes of a parent. Like your father mine was a believer in education. He completed high school and a trades certification in his early fifties just before he died. He instilled an interest in learning in many small ways through out my early years and even now I often wish I could share new things with him.

    Hallie, thanks for taking the time to share your father with us. As you can see it brought up many connections for me.

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  8. Hi Hallie, What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful father. My dad also taught us to carry turtles to the other side of the road, he too was a lifelong learner--he joined the service at 17 to fight in WWII; got his GED later on. He read the entire set of encyclopedias when I was little. One of my best memories besides his great sense of humor and fun was weekly trips to the library...many of us kids in tow. He had an intense curiousity about everything!
    Thanks for sharing and for stirring up the memories!!

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  9. Hi Margaret. You're right about needing the wise eyes of a parent before appreciating your own. I liked playing with all the tools in his workshop. Knowing that our fathers could plan and build things probably gave us confidence to try new things. Sculpting was so much like building. (He never commented on the nude sculptures around my house but thought it was funny when my kids put bras on them.)

    Indigimar--the turtles. I had paid my last visit to Dad and was headed back to MD when I stopped for a turtle. I turned the car around and went back to the nursing home. It was the hardest and the best thing I ever did. Curiosity and fun--we sometimes leave small silly things on the tombstone. No library but lots of books and he let me steer the car when he picked me up from piano lessons. I almost got us killed only once.

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  10. Wonderful tribute to your father! Have to admit that it choked me up a bit too! I loved the last part, "Tell Estelle (my mother) that it's beautiful." Powerful.

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  11. Hi Hallie
    What a grand tribute to your dad.

    I just finished reading (2 minutes ago)a long article in today's paper about turtles being rescued while trying to cross busy highway 13 on the Eastern Shore...I stop for turtles too.

    Your dad sounds like an inventive and charmingly kind man...how fortunate to carry, and how great of you to share, such fine memories.

    My dad picked up trash everywhere he went. He'd take me and my dog for walks in the park woods... always a paper sack in his back pocket (before the plastics invaded the scene) ... he'd collect glass bottles and paper candy wraps as we went along...I do that at the beach now...plastic grocery bag in my back pocket...LOTS more varities of trash.

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  12. Thanks Raena. I think we see what we expect; for Dad that was heaven--I'm glad.

    Hi Donna. It's nice that turtles and trash trigger such nice memories. We pass it on; my kids are good at rescuing wildlife, too.

    I was riding with my brother and sister-in-law to Raleigh several years ago. A HUGE, pre-historic looking turtle was crossing the road. My brother stopped his car and put on the flashers--luckily, we didn't have to carry it across (we debated). I googled it later--a snapping turtle. I had never seen such a large creature--not even in the zoo. (My mother had told us snapping turtles don't let go until the next thunderstorm.)

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  13. Hallie, Your ability to articulate thoughts and ideas is impressive. I enjoyed reading your tribute to your Dad. Thanks.

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  14. Thanks Peggy. I've always found it easier to write than to talk. (Gets me into less trouble, too--thanks to the delete button.)

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  15. Hallie, what a lovely tribute to your dad. I especially like the photo with your Mom perched on his knee and you in her lap. He exudes the strength of a man who cares for his family.

    I, too, found out about my Dad's sad family situation late in his life. His biggest concern was providing us the security that he did not have. Dad made sure all seven of us went to college. My parents believed in taking the high road, and they did not complain about their past.

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  16. Thanks Mary. One day I hope to paint this photo--it would have make a better sculpture (I didn't have a copy of this during my sculpting days).

    It's hard to believe how easy it is to make copies of photos in these days of digital cameras and computers.

    I think our parents knew how to live in the present and let us live guilt-free--a gift.

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  17. Hallie......This is simply beautiful,

    maryxxx

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  18. Thanks Mary. He missed knowing you.

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