I wrote this post the last year my father was alive. It is still true today, I am thankful I was able to share my thoughts with him on this post and just wish I could tell him thank you once again.
Daddy is a retired Football Coach and Teacher. If he had done every career assessment test known to man, he would never have found a more perfect profession.
For over 30 years daddy taught 12th grade American Government. Hecoached high school football for a number of those years. Literally thousands of kids went through his classroom and played football for him. You would be hard pressed to find any of those students who didn’t learn at least one of his life lessons.
In daddy’s classroom, the textbook was secondary. We would go through the curriculum, but the lessons that were learned often had nothing to do with what was in print sitting on our desk.
A typical American Government session usually consisted of about 10 minutes of book study and the rest of the class was devoted to talking.
We talked in small groups, we talked as an entire class and more often than not, daddy would talk to us one on one.
Growing up in a small town, everyone knew everyone‘s business. So when daddy knew a particular student was going through a hard time, he would take them out of the classroom, to his hillside perch overlooking the rest of the campus, and just talk.
For my entire life, daddy has been referred to by his students as Coach or Papa Ray, to this day he is still known by either name.
Now in his later years, daddy has generations of families who know him by these terms of endearment.
I admit that for many years I resented this. Why couldn’t my daddy just be my daddy, why did he also have to raise the children of everyone else in town?
It took me a lot of years to realize it, but now I understand, his gifts as a teacher and coach, far exceeded what he could do for my brother and I, they had to be shared with others.
Daddy provided counsel for kids who didn’t have anyone else they could turn to. He listened, he lectured, he gave direction, but most of all he taught. Daddy is, was and will always be a teacher.
When I grew up, fathers were a lot different than they are today. They were not the touchy feely kind of men who show emotion and played with their kids every free second. Daddy was no different.
As I was growing up, I didn’t get a lot of one on one time with him. My father had two jobs, he was doing his best to raise two sons, was mourning the loss of his oldest and had to care for his wife who was often ill.
Daddy had more on his plate than most could ever imagine.
I have heard and read that parents who lose a child often divorce. Not saying that it was always easy in our house, because it wasn’t, but daddy and mama hung in there, through the good and bad times to make sure that Sam and I had as normal of a childhood as possible after the tragic loss of our brother.
When mama was sick, daddy learned to cook. He learned to keep house and he learned how to keep the family running.
He often referred to it as “woman’s work,” but in our house it was the work of necessity.
As much as he was different from today’s fathers, in those respects he was a trendsetter.
Whenever mama was sick, he was the best person you can imagine to have at your side. I have seen my daddy spend hour upon hour and day upon day, sitting in a hospital room, just sitting making sure that mama wasn’t left alone.
Daddy sits bedside, he talks, he reads the newspaper, he watches tv, he talks, he walks, he talks and he talks. More than anything else, he is there.
In our house there weren’t a lot of rules. Mama and daddy let us have our freedom to learn about the world. I never had a curfew through high school, it wasn’t necessary.
We had one rule in our house, the rule that is the basis of the most valuable lesson I ever learned. “Don’t do anything to embarrass your mama.”
That one saying was engraved on the forehead of Sam and I, like the inscription on any monument you will find the world over. “Don’t do anything to embarrass your mama.”
With a commandment like this, why would a curfew ever be necessary. It was easy to give your kids freedom when the one thing that was always front and center was so simple, “don’t do anything to embarrass your mama.”
If we ever strayed from the commandment, and both of us did. Punishment was swift and severe, we may have strayed from the family covenant, but it wasn’t long before we were on the straight and narrow again.
Seven simple words, often the last we would hear as we walked out the door, are what led Sam and I through life.
If you think about it, what greater lesson could a father ever teach his kids, “don’t do anything to embarrass your mama?”
Today as a man of middle age, those words still echo in my head through many of the day to day challenges I face. I haven’t been perfect, but I think for the most part I have honored that commitment to my family and the challenge that daddy set forth for me many years ago.
He isn’t perfect, but he is mine, an example of love and life lessons. Still teaching me to this day, the lessons of life I carry with me always.
Papa Ray, Coach, Husband, Teacher and to me, most importantly DADDY.
Happy Father’s Day Daddy.
Thank you and I love you!
Kendall R. Rumsey