Father’s Day is near. I didn’t want to wait until June 21st to honor dad through simple written words. I think of him every day. Certain traits that my father possessed stand tall above all others. He was never a touchy-feely kind of guy. Most of the time he kept his sensitive side hidden. I believe there was reason for that.
Dad went through much tragedy during his childhood years. At twelve, he was standing beside his younger brother, and watched in horror as a can of burning gasoline accidentally set the youth on fire. James Columbus Hankins died within hours from his burns.
Several years later my father was riding motorcycles with a friend. He found out the next morning that his pal never made it home. The teenager was killed in a head on collision with a car. Mom said that dad silently grieved for a long time.
In 1957, my father was ejected at high-speed from a Corvette sports car on Route 66 near Victorville, California. He survived by miraculously landing in a pile of sand. God was definitely looking over him that morning. Dad walked with a pronounced limp afterwards because of a metal rod implanted in his leg by doctors, to strengthen the shattered bone.
In 1972, he survived three days in -40 degree weather after crashing his airplane in Canada. Mother was with him. She never flew in small planes again, yet the accident didn’t deter him. Dad was back in the cockpit several weeks later.
Dad was not a perfect person. He had his share of faults like others. We butted heads on more than one occasion. Mom said I was like my father in many ways. She never specified what traits we shared. Hopefully she meant the good ones.
One thing pop never did was back down from his beliefs. Most business professors tell you, don’t bring religion or political affiliation inside business walls.
My father never had a formal business education, so that rule didn’t apply to him. Even if he had been advised by experts to keep personal ideology out of his business, he would’ve ignored them.
I recall more than once, someone walking into dad’s automotive part’s store, and spouting off about a specific political poster taped to the front window. The old man would quietly stand and listen before telling them,
“You need to go down the street!”
That generally made the person tight-jawed and furious. Choice words were often uttered by these folks before leaving.
Some people strolled into his store with the philosophy that the customer is always right. Dad didn’t see things that way. If they were wrong he told them so. On several occasions my father showed an irate customer the front door. In spite of such, he was highly successful in his business endeavors.
A friend of dad’s owned a gas station close by. This man once asked,
“Aren’t you worried your open support of Republican candidates will offend people?”
My father didn’t hesitate in replying,
“That’s their problem!”
Political correctness is something dad wanted no part of. I echo his sentiment. My thick skin was definitely inherited from the ‘old man’, including a small portion of it from mom.
I believe my father is looking down at me, proud, and that’s all that counts on Father’s Day!