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I continue to cherish and terribly miss my father’s advice

This Sunday, families across the country will observe Father’s Day, giving dad his due for his contributions to the family.

There will be special prayers said at church services, family meals and gifts for dad given in love and appreciation.

At some time Sunday, my wife and daughter will do something for me as part of the observance. But for me, Father’s Day will be, as it has been for many years now, bittersweet. My father won’t be here for me to honor.

Dad died 38 years ago, and I still miss him terribly.

I miss his counsel, his wisdom and his anecdotes.

My father was a humble man. Like many of his generation, he grew up in the Depression and fought in World War II. He raised three children, kept us pretty much in check and allowed us to make many of our own decisions when it came to activities in which we wanted to participate. He and my mother welcomed our friends, and dad was a surrogate father to two of my friends whose own fathers left them when they were young.

He always offered counsel and wisdom, but during my younger years I didn’t always accept it. It was that classic argument of youth that “he’s too old; he doesn’t know what’s going on,” but as I got older I learned like Mark Twain did about his father, that the old man was pretty smart.

Dad worked as a sales rep for an oilfield supply company, working in the Oil Patch of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and East Texas. It kept him on the road a lot, but he was always able to make it to school events with my mother, and when I ran track in high school, it was rare that he wasn’t in the stands to support me.

My father had an interesting philosophy about sports, and despite being a star athlete in football in both high school and college, never pushed me or my brother into playing sports. I was always grateful for that because I appreciated my activity so much more.

“If you want to play sports,” he told me, “do it because you want to do it, not because your friends are doing it. Have fun, enjoy it, and when it stops being fun, get out.”

As I got older and began getting out more in the world, I had a better appreciation for what my father did for us; for his family. When I married my wife and we had our daughter, I became more acutely aware of the sacrifices he made for us and how true and accurate the little bits of information he gave me about family life were. It was during that time I truly listened to dad’s wisdom.

This Sunday I’ll stop for a while and think about my father and what he meant to me and I’ll remember something wonderful about him from my youth.

So a happy Father’s Day to all the fathers. If your father lives close by, go see him. If he lives in another city, call him. I sure wish I could call mine.

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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