My dad was born in Springfield, Missouri, but when he was a small child he moved with his parents to the hamlet of Biggers, Arkansas. During Dad’s early years his father abandoned his mother and their five children.
Despite this sad development, he had a happy childhood, and one of the stories he used to tell me revolved around a contest among the siblings to see which one could dress the most quickly. My lively dad would run back and forth to gauge the progress of each child, thereby hampering his own, so that he seldom won the game.
He was a winner, though, for he was always ambitious, and throughout his lifetime, he was known to be a hard worker. He quit school in the eighth grade to support his mother and his siblings.
In his early twenties, in Memphis, Tennessee, Dad met my mother. A few months later they were married, and a year after, in the small town of Portageville, Missouri, I was born.
Dad was feisty, impetuous and fun-loving, and he probably nearly drove my saintly mother crazy. Many times he would come in from work, rubbing his hands together in happy anticipation, a smile spread over his handsome face and say, “Let’s go to Portageville.” We children would dance in glee for we dearly loved our aunts and uncles and cousins who lived there. My mother would gather our things, and off we would go.
For as long as I can remember–even almost to the year of his death–my dad pastored churches, even pioneering several. They were relatively small churches, and he always worked a secular job. For many years, he was a door-to-door salesman, selling Fuller Brushes, and then Singer Sewing Machines. He eventually had his own shop–Forrest Sewing Center.
My dad was extremely studious and spent many hours preparing for every sermon he preached. Although of modest means, he always found money to invest in Bible commentaries and other books. I can see him now in our small living room, a Bible on his lap with two or three other books opened and stacked on each other. We youngsters were the library aides, and when he wanted another book, he would call for Homeletics, Handsful on Purpose, or Clarks commentaries, citing the volume he needed. Some of them had Roman numeral designations, and part of my mathematical training was in learning that system as I found commentaries for my father
For his 80th birthday, which proved to be mere months before his death, I threw a big party for my dad. Did all the planning long distance (with the help of some of my family) for I lived in California and the party was at a hotel in Springfield. Dapper, yet, wasn’t he. I bought all his clothes for that day, including a pair of silk shorts which I laughingly presented. At the party, I quizzed whether or not he was wearing his silk underwear.
His eyes crinkled in their usual way. “Shirley, I couldn’t wear those things.”
Years ago, his body was laid to rest in Greenlawn Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri. He awaits now the resurrection.
I honor my dad on this Father’s Day.
My devotional blog is here.