A Father’s Day tribute

I just put my dad’s birthday card in the mail and now I have to get his Father’s Day card sent. His birthday and Father’s Day have always fallen close together and, after a lot of years, our family has just gotten used to showering dad with cards this time of year. I think he enjoys all the attention, even if it is short-lived. Dad turns 82 on June 12.

I realize that there are many people who don’t have a wonderful relationship with their fathers. Some fathers have set bad examples, some have been the source of abuse or neglect to their children and others just did the best they could.

I feel so blessed to have Marlin Cooke as my dad. He is one of the most generous people I have ever known and his generosity isn’t limited to our family. I have seen him pay for groceries for someone in line with him, because he felt that God was nudging him to do so. He is always one of the first to give when there is a need and our family has watched him set aside money for the offering plate at church faithfully, week after week.

My dad is one of those people who never met a stranger. He has a way of starting a conversation with everyone who crosses his path. Waitresses love to see him coming because they know that he appreciates them. This trait has made him a popular person, everywhere he goes, there are folks who know him and love him.

Dad is also a practical joker who loves to tease people. Some of his jokes are worn out from over-usage, but our family has a new generation of little ones who will hear these jokes for the first time and either reel with laughter or just moan.

Example? When we pull up to a train track he always says, “A train just went down through there.” Oh, dad, how can you tell? “He left his tracks.”

While driving past a cemetery – “Do you know how many dead people there are in there?” Amazed, we answer no, how many? “All of them.”

My dad is a survivor. When my mom died a year and a half ago, my sisters and I were concerned about dad’s welfare. He had depended on mom for so many things, but she taught him how to do things around the house when she got sick. He has not only opted to move into an apartment, but he seems to be thriving there.

My dad taught me the importance of hard work and accepting responsibility. Before my mom started to work outside the home, dad worked two jobs to feed, clothe and take care of six little girls. One of his jobs required him to work on Sunday but whenever he had a Sunday off, he was in church with us. He has always paid his bills and saved enough to cover the costs when things would break down.

Dad still delivers meals on wheels, helps feed the homeless at his church and runs the dishwasher when the United Methodist Women host a dinner. He is a volunteer who is slowing down a little, but not ready to stop. I admire him for his energy and willingness to serve.

If I had to pick a role model for a perfect husband, father, grandfather, brother – my dad would meet all the criteria. He was a devoted and loyal husband to my mom for 59 years. He learned to take care of her when she couldn’t take care of him any longer.

He always provided for his children. Maybe we didn’t have the latest fashions or drive the newest cars, but we never lacked the basics and we have always known that we had a father who loved us dearly. Many times I have seen dad experience sorrow because we made poor choices and broke his heart.

He has always been there for his grandchildren and has created a lot of fond memories for each one of them in the process.

My dad has lost most of his family now. He is one of 10 siblings and there are only three of them alive now. Most recently, he journeyed with his brother Ellis through years of Alzheimer’s Disease. Visiting with him right up to the day before he died although Ellis didn’t know who he was.

Last week dad told me that he was expecting a visit from the newest member of the family. Little Charlie was born just a couple weeks ago and was going to meet great grandpa on Saturday. My prayer is that Charlie has an opportunity to really get to know his “Old Pa.”