Sunday is Father’s Day, but I’m sort of on the periphery of that holiday this year. My kids, Corey and Abby, are back in Mississippi, 1,500 miles away, so this is the first Father’s Day we’ve been apart. Since I’ve already been through a Thanksgiving and a Christmas without seeing them, I do not expect Father’s Day to be too difficult, though. We’ll talk on the phone and I’ll find that to be a blessing. There will be other Father’s Days when we can be together, God willing.
My own dad died in September 2005, which means BOTH of my fathers are in heaven now.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t think of Fred Austin Smith, especially this time of year.
I cannot say that I knew my dad all that well. He was always working, more out of necessity than anything else. He worked two or three jobs throughout my childhood, which is what comes with trying to raise six kids with the benefit of only a high-school education.
He loved to hunt and fish, although he rarely had time for those interests. After he finally retired, he would play golf occasionally. The only time he played golf was when one of us kids came home for a visit.
The fact that he never had a golf lesson and played about two rounds of golf per year did not diminish his expectations, though. Dad was a natural athlete and a competitor, a fierce one at that.
One of my fondest mental images of Dad is of him deep in a green-side bunker, flailing away in a comically futile bid to extract a golf ball from the sandy depths.
Now, my dad was a fine Christian man, a deacon and a revered Sunday School teacher for 40 years.
That meant he did not swear. In fact, I cannot recall a single cuss word escaping my dad’s lips, even though there were many occasions when that might have been expected, given the mischief six kids will inevitably get in to.
So, in obedience to his faith, my dad swore off swearing, you might say. But the competitor in him had to have some outlet in times of great duress. So it was that my dad perfected the art of swearing without swearing.
His favorite non-cuss, cuss-words were “Confound it!’’ He would yell it with great conviction in times of deep frustration.
So I see him down in that bunker, hacking at that golf ball in the much the same manner as a man trying to kill a python with a leaf rake - violently jabbing at that ball with great, thunderous utterances of “CONFOUND IT!!!’ with each failed attempt.
He was a good man, loved and respected by all who knew him.
Dad, I want you to know that I love you and miss you something awful.
What I wouldn’t give to play another round of golf with you
That can’t happen, of course, so the memories will have to suffice.
. CONFOUND IT!!!