When I was growing up in our small town of Manning, South Carolina, my dad would
come home many afternoons from work and throw the football or baseball with me in the
back yard. He was Terry Bradshaw and I was his favorite receiver, running intricate
patterns across the backyard for what seemed to me to be hours, but I’m sure was only
20 to 30 minutes. He would also hit me scorching grounders I didn’t want to miss
because if I did they would go into the field next door that was filled with sand spurs.
Later, when I played JV football, my dad followed the team to Kingstree, South
Carolina, one Thursday afternoon, which was his afternoon off work. It was pouring rain
when we left Manning, pouring throughout the game, and pouring when we got home. It
rained so hard at times, we couldn’t see the sidelines from the middle of the playing field.
No one stood in the stands for either side, except for my dad, dressed in his Vietnam
issue raincoat and air commando hat and holding an umbrella throughout the game. I
never knew he was there until one of the cheerleaders told me later that when they
performed the cheer, “All for the Manning Monarchs stand up and holler,” my dad stood
up in the deluge and hollered. No one else was present to holler. Forty years later, some
of those cheerleaders still remind me of that incident.
When I began leaving for college, I would pack my things on Sunday afternoon after
lunch preparing to drive back to Clemson. My dad would slip into my bedroom while I
was packing, sit on my bed, hold my hand, and pray for me. He would pray for God’s
blessing and God’s protection on his boy while traveling and while away in college. He
would ask God to deliver me from temptation and to show me His path for my life. He
wouldn’t allow me to pray. He would pray and then slip back out.
As I was leaving town for my second year of medical school in September 1978, my
dad was coming into our neighborhood as I was leaving the neighborhood. He flagged
me down, pulled his car off the side of the road, and ran across the road. He knelt
down in the road, reached his hand through the window to hold my hand. He prayed for
me and for my second year of medical school. Then he jumped up and ran to his car,
and he was gone. Just as quick as that, he was gone from my life. That’s the last time I
ever saw my dad. The next day, he was killed in an airplane accident flying his own
airplane to Houston, Texas, for a medical meeting. His plane crashed in a swamp during
a thunderstorm in Louisiana. It was five terrible days before his plane was discovered.
Oh, precious memories!
Everyone of us dads will leave a legacy with our children. Even the little things that
we do will be remembered. Because of mutual love, little things will be magnified to
greatness in the eyes of our children. The things that we say and do as dads will be told
over and over to our children and grandchildren, whether we like it or not. My memories
of my dad are precious, deep, varied, and rich. My family loves to sit around and talk
about my dad. The memories include quail hunting, Clemson football games, faithfully
attending first Baptist Church in Manning, laughing around the dinner table, and catching
ball in the back yard. My brothers and I still mimic my dad saying, “Boys, I don’t know
what I am going to do with you.” I remember my dad praying for me one Sunday night
after I spoke in church and him weeping so hard he could hardly pray.
Hey, Dads, what will your legacy be? How will your children remember you? What will
they say about you to their children? Trust me, if you pray for them in the morning and
play with them in the afternoon, they will remember you well.