I realize that many people who read this do not have a positive father figure. But I think that gives even more reason to celebrate a Dad who has indeed been a wonderful father.
Dad is 70 years old. I am his first born. He was the ripe age of 17 when he fathered me.
I once read that it doesn’t take a man to make a child, but it does take a man to raise one. If that is so — and in my case it is — then George Elrod, Jr. embodies the very essence of manhood.
A few poignant thoughts on this Father’s Day:
— My Dad is a man of few words. Quiet and strong-willed. He was a very strict but fair disciplinarian. I was a fortunate child who was never struck in anger. But, make no mistake, I was spanked quiet a few times by a purposeful mentor who continually reminded me, “This is for your own good.”
— My Dad believes in hard work. When I was eleven years old he handed me a cloth bag that said “News Free-Press” on it, and even though I did not know the word entrepreneur, I became one that day. From that point forward, I began to contribute to the family coffers. At the age of 13, I obtained a special work permit and began my five year career working at a fast food restaurant.
— My Dad would always tell me “if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” He also constantly told me “I could do anything I wanted to do, if I set my mind to it.” Those sayings are imprinted into my psyche to this day.
— Dad didn’t understand me, but was wise enough to let Mom be our intermediary. He once attempted to teach me to work on machinery at the plant he managed. But we both soon realized (with a little intercession by Mom) that fixing a complex machine that tied knots for rugs was not in my future. He reluctantly realized this may possibly be the lone exception to the latter saying in the point above about doing anything I set my mind to.
— Dad is a switch-hitter. The rare moments we had to play “pops and skinners” when he wasn’t working never ceased to amaze me that he could bat effectively either way. Alas, I only got his right-handed gene. So much for my career in baseball.
— Dad loved Mom. Dad still loves Mom. For 53 years he has loved her and fortunately, I was there for all but one of them.
— Dad taught me respect. I will never forget riding a city bus downtown as a seven or eight year old, hearing the man behind us refer to his wife as “my old lady.” Dad looked at me with those steely blue-green eyes, and said in that soft but strong voice of his, “Don’t ever let me hear you refer to a woman as “an old lady.” And needless to say, I have never considered the phrase worthy to be thought, much less uttered.
— And last but certainly not least, my Dad taught me how to be a loving and just Father. Not perfect. My gosh, not perfect. Far from it. But loving and just. And for that I am eternally grateful. And my present (and future) son-in-law should be grateful as well. For Dad’s priceless gift is a legacy that will outlive us all.