SEEIN' MY FATHER IN ME
Coach Dave Daubenmire
June 19, 2008
seein' my father in me. I guess that's how it's meant to be
And I find I'm more and more like him each day
I notice I walk the way he walks. I notice I talk the way he talks
I'm startin' to see my father in me. Paul Overstreet
I just celebrated the third Father’s Day since the death of my dad. He was a good ole boy, my father, Frank.
Raised in the days of the Great Depression, one of eight children, Dad’s teenage desire was to play for the New York Yankees. But like so many of his generation, those dreams were exploded by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, followed by marriage and childbirth, and a lifetime of enjoying the grandchildren we had given him. That was his reward.
I missed “Opie Frank” more than usual last weekend. I appreciate so much what he sacrificed for all of us.
I remember the night that Dad died. Seventy-five years of cigarette smoking and a fear of doctors finally claimed him at the age of eighty-four. For days we knew the end was near and as his final journey was commencing, we had time to gather a room full of children and grandchildren around his bed and sing hymns as Dad was ushered into eternity. It is a journey we all must make and it was special time for our family to share with him.
But I was particularly struck that evening, as I watched those gathered mourn the loss of “Opie,” of what it was that his life had meant. Proverbs tells us “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children….” and as I surveyed the scene around his bed I hoped he knew the legacy he had bestowed. He didn’t leave us any money because he had spent it all on us while he was alive, but the message of his life echoed through the voices of the progeny that burst from his loins and shined through the tears that were shed around the hospital bed.
“We love you Opie,” His grandkids took turns whispering in his ear and kissing him on the cheek.
That was it…that was my dad’s legacy. Unconditional, self-sacrificing love was the inheritance that he left us. “Greater love has no man than this…he spent his life for his family.
A member of what Tom Brokaw coined, “The Greatest Generation,” in many ways they were. They conquered Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Hirohito. They created an interstate highway system that transported and transformed the nation. They took us from the Mercury Program to “the Eagle has landed,” from the Model A Ford to the Mustang, from the black and white Philco to the Wonderful World of Disney. They split the atom, created the most powerful economic machine the world had ever seen, and broadcast live sporting events around the world.
But if the truth were to be told, in many ways, the Greatest Generation, wasn’t. In their desire to create a better life for their children, they traded character for comfort. They transferred their wealth but not their values. The children of the Greatest Generation ushered in the sexual revolution. The brave men that stormed the beaches at Normandy produced the Hippie Generation. What went wrong?
My dad was my hero. He coached our Little League team, taught me to hook a bass and hunt a squirrel, to mow the yard and play poker. He was diligent in going to church and made sure our shoes were shined when we put on our Sunday best. But there was a side of my Dad that I never knew, a door to his soul that was never opened. I realized the night that he slipped away that there was so much about him that I didn’t know.
But we never questioned his love. Whatever he had to do to get us a new ball glove, or pair of shoes, he willingly did. We all knew that our Dad loved us.
We grew up in the age of “Father Knows Best” and “Leave It to Beaver” but for most of the Boomers, Robert Young and Ward Cleaver bore little resemblance to the man who sat at the head of their dinner table. First Elvis, then the Beetles, followed by Playboy Magazine and Woodstock, what parent knew how to combat such an onslaught? So Dad turned the raising of the family over to Mom and he worked even harder. Slowly his fatherly influence waned in the home.
Mom ran the house, Dad brought home the bacon. So many times when we went to Dad for advice he would say, “Go ask your mother.” As I stood over his bed that evening I realized that there was so much about him that was a mystery. I would have liked to have known him so much deeper.
But the reason I am writing this is because I know that my story is such a common one. All fathers leave a footprint. Some become monuments…others become wounds. Some men search their whole lives for the approval of Dad.
What kind of footprint are you leaving?
I remember the fearful joy that Michele and I had when we took our first child home. Now what? How does a father behave? What does a father do? It shocked me one afternoon to hear myself say to my son my Dad’s favorite warning, “I ain’t telling you no more.”
“Wow,” I thought. “I’m becoming my dad.” It is a powerful influence, a father’s footprint.
Are you becoming your dad? Are you “more and more like him each day?” Is that a good thing?
As I look back over my life I can’t remember a single conversation I ever had with my earthly father about the great issues of life. We spoke of the Yankees…or the Reds…or of the latest catfish…but he never showed me his soul. He never spoke to me of the importance of his faith.
When I was thirty-five years old I gave my life to Jesus. He came into my life and he began to Father me. He showed me what it meant to be a man. I began to understand the importance of my influence in the spiritual life of my children.
I remember a conversation I had with one of my good friends. He was not a Christian but had great respect for my walk. In a private moment he shared with me that he could not get his son thirteen-year old son to go to church.
“Should I call the pastor and have him speak to Jake?” He asked me.
“Nah,” I answered. “I have a better idea. Why don’t you take him to church rather than send him? If it matters to you…it will matter to him. If it doesn’t, it won’t.”
Today they are both actively serving the Lord.
Men have dropped the ball. We have asked others to impart to our children what they can only receive from Dad.
“Boy, Dave, you look like your father,” I often hear my parents’ friends say. “Which one?” I ask. “My earthly father or my Heavenly Father?”
I pray they see both. Frank gave me life, Jesus taught me the meaning of it.
When your kids look at you, Dad, which Father do they see? “I notice I walk the way he walks. I notice I talk the way he talks. I'm startin' to see my father in me.”
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The title Father conjures up so many different thoughts. For some of us it is good, while others hate the “old man.” Did you ever stop to think that the footprint you leave will impact the way your children view their Heavenly Father? When your children hear the word father what image do they get? Are you a faithful father or a deadly dad?
Thanks, Opie Frank, for a model of love. You did what you knew to do.
I’m seein’ both my fathers in me!
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