My dad shared a lot of wisdom with me. He was kind and gentle and was there when ever family or friends needed him. He told me two things that I have carried with me through out my life.... work out your own salvation and don't straddle the fence.
My parents "got religion" after my older brothers and sisters left home and married. We went to a fundamentalist pentecostal church. It was small, and no there were snakes handled or at least none that I can remember, but it was a lively church. The kind where the singing was loud and emotional, every sermon was fire and brimstone, and every service was all about sin.
As I became a teenager, I began to question my mom and dad about our religion. It was the sixties and early seventies, so everyone had questions. My mom would just tell me to read my Bible or that I had no business asking so many questions, but daddy would listen. The amazing thing, most of the time he agreed with me. Most of my questions dealt with race, hate and war.
So one day when I had question my dad so much about his thoughts on God, and the particulars of our religion, he looked at me and said, "you know, I believe you have to work out your own salvation." I am sure at the time if the church elders had gotten wind of this, he would have been thrown out of the church. But, my dad had been through the horrors of World War Two, he had survived an underground mine explosion, I think he knew God better than anyone I have ever met. He believed in the Golden Rule, of loving your neighbor, and lending a helping hand.
The other wisdom that he always stressed, was not straddling the fence. He would always tell me, stand up for your thoughts and beliefs. It doesn't matter if no one likes them or what anybody thinks of you, don't be wishy washy.
So tonight, I sit and think of my dad. I have his blue eyes and I hope that I have his kind heart and wisdom. I have missed him very much today, his laughter and sense of humor, his hugs.
I close my eyes and see him, sitting on the side of the bed, playing that old silvertone guitar
and singing. I remember going to work with him on Saturday mornings, my brother and I and he would stop at this little gas station and buy us grape drinks and Hersey kisses. He could fry the best fried chicken in the world and he taught me how to eat raw oysters and shoot pool. I thought he would live forever.........I was wrong.