Remembering my Father

As we approach Father’s Day in 2020, I, upon reflection, have come to a disturbing conclusion. I am happy that my earthly father has passed away and passed on. That is a profound realization, it is a complex statement. Taken out of context it sounds vulgar. It is not that I did not love my father, I did. It is not that I do not miss him, I very often do. I say the above for the singular reason that I know it was a far better thing for him to pass from this world rather than live to see the world turned upside down and people that ought to be wise enough to know better cheering it on and aiding in its destruction. He did not deserve to live to this day to observe what has become of us. The West is lost.

My father was a hard man, jovial socially but often without a lot of words privately. He spent much less time trying to explain what he saw and thought than I do and relied upon stern statements, pointed questions, and sometimes just walking away to make his point known. He was a realist, a pragmatist, and a stoic. He was a man of common-sense, a Christian man that loved his wife and his family. He did not suffer fools.

He was not perfect. I am only aware of one time that he may have entertained even the idea of a real transgression and he quickly corrected that path. He was human after all but in my observation better than most humans.

Like many men of his day he sensed that something was coming – he said it often to me, that things really were getting worse, little by little. It is hard for a man of my generation not to look backward and see this to be true (although many cannot, do not, and will not see it). It was more revealing for men of my father’s generation to see it. After all, they lived through a period of great achievements. Why should they sense the impending demise? Yet many of them did.

I recall when I was in second grade, we attended a church that voted on pastors and often could call a vote quickly and oust a man. My father was a deacon in the church, a small group had called and visited with him for a few weeks to talk about things in a serious way that I did not understand. I only knew he told them to essentially calm down. That was until a church meeting not long after. Something had changed, my father spoke to the congregation. I remember him pointing angrily at the pastor on the podium and saying that the man had lied. That church failed to vote the pastor out that day, we left that church after the meeting and never returned. Some years later that pastor went to jail for some pretty terrible things. That church suffered through several more charlatans and eventually went bankrupt and sold their building.

My father never fully trusted preachers after that. He would interview them before we visited churches. Later in life, he settled on a pastor friend he knew as a child. He knew what a rough lad the fellow had been and how much he had transformed.

Beyond preachers, he did not trust politicians, the government, or the media much either. He was wary of university professors. In sum, he had identified every institution and profession that would fall to absurd ideology and betray the notion of American exceptionalism. He was brilliant in his common-sense observations. (You can add to that list land developers, those people that buy up beautiful farms and convert them to dreary subdivisions – he loathed those parasites.)

In the 1980s when evangelical Christianity was facing one of its apostasy moments (events that lead to all the subsequent errors) many of his friends fell in with television preachers. Some bought vacation spots at places such as Jim and Tammy’s PTL in Charlotte. He never thought much of television preachers with slick words and slicker suits. To him, if you could not know the man preaching personally and judge his whole life, he had little business telling you about the spiritual.

Many of their friends watched anything and everything the local ‘Christian’ television station would display. I recall him saying that not everything called ‘Christian’ was. He was pretty open-minded about the books I read but scrutinized books by ‘religious’ authors, he did well to do that – just because something is in a book does not make it correct. All the ‘greatest’ bad ideas in the world are in a book someplace; I learned that later in life. But he was not small in his conception of God, nor was he close-minded to the mysteries of the Divine that we cannot know. His theology was simple and complex. He was my C.S. Lewis before I discovered Lewis.

At home, he made up work for me to do, and then fussed at me for breaking the plow, tractor, or mower. He also provided me with motorcycles, dogs, a pool, and everything else I needed to entertain myself.

He was incredibly profound and surprisingly open-minded in ways it took me years to understand. Small things he said to me, about the world, the universe, and theology took me years to grasp. He was not a man that explained a lot. His way of explaining was that you ought to get an idea and then to laugh at your folly for not and move on. It was a pretty effective teaching technique, it forced me often to go ask him what he meant, only to receive a snippet of more information. And the cycle continued.

In late 1992 I was at a decision point that would determine my life. Take one of the jobs locally that were on the table that would set me on a trajectory or head off to the Army. My father had always been accepting and supportive of me being in the National Guard, but leaving for the Army – that was different. He thought it a very bad idea. On a fundamental level, he was correct, he foresaw things I could not.

An acquaintance of mine, an older gentleman that spent his life in academia and taught at several major universities told me recently, “if I had known how important it is for sons to be near their paternal grandfather, I would likely have chosen a different profession”. My father had a brother that spent a career in the Air Force, he and his family left and never really returned. I think my father knew all of these things when he was sad about my career choice. Raising a son to be part of the traditions of manhood within a family requires the help of other manly figures in the family. A man’s father is an important part of raising sons to carry on the traditions and culture of the family.

Later in life, as he became ill with ALS, and my little family could only fly in occasionally on leave, my father became quieter. I suspect there was some sadness there. My decisions had robbed him of something he was entitled to – he had provided me a good life and great opportunities, the least I could have done was live closer to allow him time to be a granddad. I regret all of that in many ways, it makes me a bit sad. I did what I thought I was created to do in life, but decisions have consequences.

I told my cousin recently, when the last of my father’s brothers died, ‘when a man loses his father, life gets too real, and it is perhaps one of the hardest things to face.’ When your father dies you are alone in the world – there is nobody to come save you. Growing up, and as a man even, I always knew that if anything in life got too tough, my father would be there, at my side, fighting whatever was in front of us. That sense of security fades when one’s own father passes.

My father and many of his generation saw the turmoil in our world coming – they knew of Marxists at home and abroad. He was in that in-between generation. Just a bit too young for Korea and too old for Vietnam. After serving in the Marines he wore a flat-top, rode a Triumph motorcycle, and sported a leather jacket until he met my mother and then spent some time at Bob Jones University. Later, he scowled at and scorned the Boomer hippies – with good reason, their ideas and ideology were corrupt and wrong. He could smell a never-do-well ideologue a mile away.

He did not come from privilege; he grew up with seven siblings in a three-room house. He worked hard for what he achieved and acquired in life. He would not give two seconds credence to some girly-man standing up in front of a church claiming that ‘hard work is not enough’ to solve almost all of life's problems (that plus the Word). He would feel that way for many reasons, the least of which the entire concept is rather unbiblical and contrary to common-sense.

If he were alive today, he would show love and kindness to those confused by the lies many are telling in the world – for a brief time. If they failed to hear, he would turn from them in scorn and rebuke. That is biblical kids, as the Ramen guy so famously said on Tik-Tok recently, you just have to look it up (1Timothy 5:20). Just as he rebuked and scorned false teachers in the church in his life, he would do so now.

It is a blessing of sorts he does not have to live now, to see entire institutions fall and so many lemmings fall with them, led like rats by charlatan pied pipers. He lived a good and honest life. He was kind, stalwart, and just in his dealings with others and always lived according to principles that were tried and true. He never followed the crowd or cared much for what everyone else was doing. He was a man, a real, honest to God, man – there are so few of those around anymore. I was lucky to know him. He was my mentor, guide, and ultimately, my friend.

If I were older, if my strength had begun to fail, if there were still not people on this earth that I a have a duty to protect, if I did not hear the clarion call of noblesse oblige to stand on truth – I might wish my time in this world was at an end also. Yet there is duty to do still and battles to be fought and monsters driven from the door. ‘Duty is the sublimest word in the language’ after all.

My father had a good life, he worked hard and stood for truth even in the face of the crowd. We have but only our duty in this life and he did his. For me and those that choose to follow him and men like him, we will do the same. Protect our families, stand for truth, scorn those that lie or believe liars, and face down the growing sentiment of evil and hate that spreads through the land.

Author: Barry

Southerner, father, husband, Christian and a retired Army field grade officer. Author of five books and of several papers and articles on ethics, culture, history, geopolitics and military affairs.

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