Listen to your father, who gave you life, and don’t despise your mother when she is old. Prov. 23:22 (NLT)
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:13 (ESV)
To daughters daddies are the first man they’ll ever love; a standard upon which they’ll use to find a husband one day. To sons fathers are heroes; he is what they want to be when they grow up. At least this is the way it should be.
God the Father has given fathers an earthly mandate to raise children who love Him. It’s a very serious issue not to be squandered.
I lost my earthly father, Morris Wood, when I was 21 years old. I’m 46 now, and there hasn’t been a day that has passed in these twenty five years that I haven’t missed him. When a father isn’t present there is a void. My father didn’t have a choice in the matter, but many fathers do.
My daddy never saw me graduate from college and seminary. He didn’t get to lovingly scrutinize my husband, Billy, before we were married. He never walked me down the aisle. He never held my three children, although I know he has loved my two who are with him in heaven. I like to think that he got a glimpse of the milestones in my life, but I’ll never know for certain this side of heaven, but I’m certain that one day I’ll see him again.
My daddy instilled in me the value of hard work. Hard work was necessary growing up on a farm. I remember one summer we had to hoe the largest field we had; the Wood place as we called it, not after our family, but after the woman who had previously owned the land. I think it was a field full of young soybeans. I know there was a reason behind him having us hoe that large, and I mean very large field, but it didn’t stop us (myself and my two younger brothers) from complaining about it. I don’t remember my older sister joining us. She may have already been out of the home or either was working at a summer job. She’s seven years older than I am, and sometimes it was as though my parents raised two families, her, and then me with my two brothers, who were two and three years younger than I. I can say that Daddy got very aggravated with our complaining, and we knew when the time had come to keep our mouths shut. We learned the value of not just hard work, but complaints were not necessary to do a job right, and actually made the job go much slower than necessary.
My daddy wasn’t the lovey dovey type. I don’t remember daily hugs from him or crawling up into his lap, although I know I did get the privilege of sitting there on occasion due to pictures I have. My daddy showed he cared and loved us by being our provider, our disciplinarian, and our teacher about God and His Son, Jesus. He always wanted to make sure we minded our mother, Marjorie, and honored her in how we, as children, responded to her with the things she would have us do around the house.
My daddy taught me how to fish. I hated squishy, wiggly things, and touching them was even worse. I would often grimace picking up a worm and then attempt to finagle it very carefully onto the hook, eventually putting it on the ground and stabbing it to death, plus taking the fish off the hook—I wasn’t so crazy about. In the early part of summer, right before my dad was put into the hospital, he took me across the road to my Uncle Nathan’s pond to fish. You see, I loved to fish, just not the icky worm or fish removal part of the deal; my daddy knew that, and showed me how much he loved me by sitting on the bank, baited the hook for me, and then removed any fish I caught. That last time fishing with him is a memory I treasure. Even though my daddy did not feel well that day, he sat patiently on the bank watching me fish, baiting my hook after each time he removed a fish. Instead of stringing the fish on a line to take home for supper, he tossed them back into the pond each time. It was my last father-daughter time, and it was a big, loud: “I love you, Latanya!”
My daddy was a well respected man in the community where I grew up. He was an honorable, trustworthy man. A man who would help anyone he could. Often, all I would have to say to others is: “I’m Morris Wood’s daughter;” saying those four words meant something to them, but it meant even more to me: a great reputation matters.
Something that was a little “funny” about my daddy was his nickname: Mule. And yes, he was as stubborn as a mule. He received that name when he was little, after receiving a swift kick in the clavicle by the family mule. My daddy had gotten in the way of the mule after being told many times to get away. Pure stubbornness… disobedience, too, and there were consequences, one of which was a broken clavicle. It’s funny, too, that each of my siblings, and me, included, are known for our own brand of stubbornness. We truly take after our daddy in many respects.
And my daddy taught me to stand for truth, and to stand on God’s Word even though trials are going to bite and bite hard. The summer I turned 21 the clear signs that something was wrong with my dad were finally met with the extreme reality that he was really, really sick. He had no energy to work the farm, causing my brothers to have to take over the care of the crops and our livestock. My daddy stayed inside, reclining in his chair. Not doing something was “something” we had never seen our dad “do” before, and when my daddy bought a window air conditioning unit from Sears as a measure of comfort for him while he reclined, it was THE sign that something was indeed wrong. (We didn’t have the comforts of an air conditioned home… my dad was old school—fans everywhere to move the hot air of our Middle Georgia home around. We knew how to sweat, and boy, did we!)
My dad began researching in our encyclopedias to try to determine on his own what was wrong. He suspected Leukemia. Eventually he could no longer put it off, he went to the doctor, and was admitted into the hospital not long afterward. The doctors in our small town could not determine what was wrong with him, and after a week they transferred him to a hospital affiliated with a medical college in Augusta. After running many tests they discovered my dad had an autoimmune disease called Lupus. We learned that it was a doable and treatable disease. Many people learned to live with it, but my daddy’s body had tried for so long to fight the disease that the disease had done too much damage. One month after entering the hospital my dad died. He never was able to come back home, a place he loved so much, that nowhere else in the world would do. Anytime we left Laurens County, and then came back into the county, Daddy would declare that we were back home again. Even our dogs mourned for him. Topper and Huey, both an Australian shepherd/Border collie mix, were lying at the end of our drive looking up the road when we came home from Augusta. Our dogs, really daddy’s dogs, were waiting for him to come home and take them for a ride in his truck. Riding around in daddy’s truck was a treat they loved, along with just being with him. He was their life. I really believe they were puzzled that he never came back home.
We were all heartbroken with losing daddy. He was our rock! Our defender! He was our daddy and 54 was much too young an age to go. The whole time, as we watched our dad in the hospital, he was a witness for Christ. He never wavered, although there were times the enemy tried to get my daddy to cry out in anger to our Heavenly Father and renounce God’s goodness. My daddy knew God had not turned His back on him. My daddy loved His heavenly Father and trusted Him with his life.
The testament of my dad and the way he lived his life was shown through the enormous amount of people who came to the funeral home and then also to our church for his funeral service. The church overflowed so much that many had to stand outside. Many people loved my daddy, and it blessed us to see them love on us as we mourned for him.
And my daddy taught me the best thing of all, and that was to love my Lord and Savior with everything I am.
Thank you Daddy for loving me so, by sharing the greatest gift with me, Jesus, and making sure we went to church to worship together as a family. Thank you for your example. Until I get to heaven, love on my two children that are with you. And thank you, Lord, for giving me the perfect daddy for me; faults and all.
I’m proud to say: I’m Morris Wood’s daughter.