Being a hero makes every day Father's Day

Joyce Pemberton
Special to The Black Mountain News

There isn't much that hasn't been said, sung or written about fatherhood, especially on Father's Day.

And so it was that I found myself sitting at my desk alternately staring out the window and back to my computer screen, silently willing the words to write themselves for this column. What could I possibly say that could be of any significance?

My mind had wandered, as usual; What should I write ... I'm not a father ... the birds sure are active today ... I love these mountains ... I'm hungry ... Taco Bell.

And there it was. Inspiration in the form of a long-forgotten memory of my dad carrying a giant Taco Bell bag into my 16th birthday party.

I remember it vividly. I had planned a pool party and invited about 30 girls for barbecue and swimming. But the weather wasn't cooperating, so we were stuck inside. Peer pressure being what it is at that age, I was worried that my party was going to bomb and that I would be that subject of high school locker-gossip for months to come.

But then the most amazing, unexpected thing happened. My dad came through the door carrying a bag with enough tacos for 30 hungry girls. I remember being overwhelmed with gratitude. My dad had saved the day. At that moment, he was my hero.

My dad was a unique character. He was small in stature but huge on charisma and energy. There was nothing he was afraid to try and so he tried just about everything. He had an insatiable curiosity and wanderlust. I remember once he didn't want us kids to feel left out of a fishing trip he was taking, so he told us was going to the store and would be right back. A few days later, we woke up to find Mickey Mouse hats placed at the foot of our beds. He had gone to Florida with a friend. The hats were his way of apologizing for leaving us out.

He loved to talk, sharing his opinion on any subject with an intensity that demanded your full attention. And he was a collector - our garage was full of odd treasures he would find. Today I am the proud owner of a baby upright piano as a result of his eye for roadside diamonds in the rough.

He had a great sense of humor and a fiery temper that scared the bejeezus out of me many times. He owned his own sign company and worked part-time as a deputy sheriff in our county. He was an ordained minister, a deacon in our church and loved Jesus with a passion.

These are just some of the pixels that made up my dad. But with all of that, the one thing I remember most is how he loved my mother. He was tender and considerate with her, and always gave in to her whims.

And that is his legacy to his children.

The best demonstration of his love for her that I can recall manifested itself when my mother was bedridden for months during an extended illness. My type-A father slowed himself down and became a patient and gentle caregiver. Years later, I recalled this sweet side of my father when I was in a similar situation.

My father taught me that although a man's legacy is important, a father's legacy with his children is paramount and everlasting and can have an impact years, decades and even generations later.

What is your legacy? If you are a father, when is the last time you were your kid's hero?

If you aren't sure, today would be a great day to start working on it.