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Darrell Huckaby - This year's Father's Day to be spent at home

Father's Day. I am spending a rare one at home. I say rare because the card companies or the necktie manufacturers or whoever it was that decided we needed to set aside a Sunday to honor our daddies plopped the day right in the middle of the peak travel season.

Of course, any day that ends in the letter "y" is a part of the peak travel season as far as I am concerned.

For the first two decades of my life I was, of course, at home on Father's Day - and virtually every other day, as far as that is concerned. Honesty compels me to admit that I can't remember what, if anything, we did at our house to honor the contributions that my daddy, Homer Huckaby, made to our family. Whatever we did, it wasn't enough.

When I graduated from college and started spending my summers at Boy Scout camp, Father's Day always marked the beginning of the camp season. Since Porterdale was just a hop, skip and a jump from Bert Adams, I was allowed to run home and have breakfast on those days, before the onslaught of campers began in earnest.

Of course, in those days I might have had a glint in my eye, but that was as far as it went toward my becoming a dad myself.

All that changed, of course, about 22 years ago when our first child, Jamie Leigh, arrived, and Father's Day became more than another red number on the calendar. The travel bug had bitten me by then, however, and I had become something of a rolling stone - particularly in the summer months. I gathered very little moss on Sundays in June, in other words.

My family has celebrated Father's Day at Disney World and Myrtle Beach and Anchorage, Alaska - among other destinations. One year we were at Dollywood.

But this year we are all right here at home, which is really a pretty good place to be, all things considered.

The buildup to Father's Day doesn't compare to that special Sunday in May when we pause to honor our mothers, of course - nor should it, when you get right down to it - but as I have watched the television ads over the previous weeks and shaken all the ad inserts out of the morning papers this weekend, I have spent a lot of time remembering my own father. I have also spent a little time wondering how my own children will remember me when I am no longer around.

My dad has been gone 21 years now, but I still carry precious memories of him around in my heart. And I can see him in my face every morning when I look into the mirror because I look more and more like him with each passing day - which isn't a bad thing because I believe my daddy was a very distinguished looking man. Sally Ann Jarrett says so, too.

I got a few other attributes from my father other than my looks and my big belly. Unfortunately, I got his temper. If you look in the dictionary under Type A personality, you will see a picture of Homer Huckaby. If you are around me and something seemingly inconsequential makes me really mad really fast, I can't help it. It's in my genes.

I also got my love for the written word from my father, who taught me how to read long before the state of Georgia determined I was old enough to attend school. I can still remember sitting in his lap at the kitchen table, pouring over the pages of the morning newspaper - asking him what the different words were.

Daddy didn't just teach me to read, he also taught me to appreciate books and, more importantly, to appreciate the knowledge that they contained; the knowledge that they could impart to me.

My love for sports, particularly baseball and Georgia football, can be attributed to him also. He used to tell me stories about Wally Butts and Charlie Trippe and Ty Cobb - and now I tell my own children stories about Vince Dooley and Herschel Walker and Mickey Mantle and can't help but wonder if I am making the same sort of impression on them that my father made on me.

More importantly, he taught me to love God. He taught the Gleaner Sunday school class at the Julia A. Porter Methodist Church throughout my childhood, and in my mind's eye I can still see him sitting at the kitchen table, preparing his lesson. And I can still remember sneaking out of my own class early on Sunday mornings so I could slide into the back of his and listen to him expound on the Gospel and the meaning of life.

There are other memories of course, some much better than others - but all precious.

I wonder what memories my children will have of me when I have been gone 20 years.

I won't worry about that today. Today I will simply cherish the fact that all three of my children are here at home with me. Who could ask for more than that?

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.