Father's Day

Suzann Darnall

I decided I wanted to be a little less political this week and honor some amazing men in my life. So, as we celebrate Father's Day this weekend, a holiday that has been around for just over a century, I want to tell you about these very special men: my great-grandfather, John Sayre; my grandfathers, Douglas Dale and Hazen Sayre; my father, Curtis Dale; my husband, Pete Darnall; and my son-in-law, Casey Allred. While there are other good men in my family, I could not talk about all of them, so I selected those closest to me.

My great-grandfather, known as Grandpa Sayre, lived to be 102. Not only did he live into my adult years, my own daughters were blessed to meet him when they were old enough to have memories of visiting him.

Three generations of women in my family remember visiting Grandpa on his farm: my mother, me, and my girls. We all loved going there. To this day I cannot eat an ear of corn on the cob without thinking of family dinners there.

Grandpa was a church-going, God-fearing man. He and my great-grandmother were married for nearly 70 years. Much of what I believe about God and marriage come from things I learned from them.

His son, my mother's father, Papa Sayre, was a welder and worked at a chemical plant for most of the years I remember. Papa Sayre was not a church-goer, but was without doubt one of the most honest and compassionate men I ever knew.

From him I learned a love of learning, even if it was not formal education. He also taught me a lot about the importance of family and loving one's spouse better than one's self. He cared for my Mommac, his beloved wife, until her death and loved her until the day he died. I can never hear the song, "He Stopped Loving Her Today", without thinking of Papa Sayre and Mommac.

He also grew the most beautiful roses in his front yard. He also gardened in his back yard and did home canning. Mostly peppers, pickles, and hot sauces.

Not only was I able to spend lots of time with Papa Sayre, both of my daughters got to know him well. Especially in the years we lived close to West Virginia, while in Ohio and later in Virginia.

My paternal grandfather, Papa Dale, was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. He was also a church-going, God-fearing, bible-reading man. He liked hunting, too. A love of reading was passed from him to my father, and down to me. This love of books has now been passed along to my children and my grandchildren.

He also gardened and was a recognized regional expert on wildflowers in West Virginia. I can never look at the lovely blooms on my place without remembering him telling me that if it had a blossom is was a wildflower, not a weed. He truly saw the beauty of the world around him.

I was blessed to also spend time with Papa Dale as a child and as an adult. Even more special is that my daughters also got to spend time with him and have memories of the home place on Brown's Creek that will last a lifetime.

My father was a career Air Force officer so military life is wrapped throughout my memories of life with him. Because of him I fell a little bit in love with The United States Air Force and have never quite recovered from the romance. It ultimately led to my marriage to another Air Force officer.

Dad loves words. Whether reading, writing, or talking. He passed this joy on to me. It is because of his direct influence that I write today.

He also infected me with a passion for politics. He thinks the presidential election is the Olympics, Super Bowl, and World Series all rolled into one. He watches the lesser contests with interest, but nothing warms his soul quite like the main event.

My father is kind of a Renaissance Man. There is almost nothing he cannot do. In addition to things already mentioned his talents cover (but are not limited to) oil painting, furniture building, jelly making, gardening, piano playing, music writing . . . and the list goes on and on. He also taught me how to make the perfect roasted turkey, a skill appreciated by my husband, my children, and now my grandchildren.

My father is also responsible in a great way for my family and me being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter -Day Saints. His quest for the truth of the gospel has led many of us through the chapel doors.

My husband, Pete, is without a doubt the most important man in my life. Not only do I love him, I like him. He is my eternal sweetheart and my best friend. We have a never-ending romance and lots of fun. It has been a wonderful life for nearly 34 years.

On the Monday after Father's Day, it will have been 34 years since we met, in fact. We were married just over a month and a half later. I'd say our whirlwind romance turned into a perfect storm.

My dear Pete is not only a wonderful husband, he has proven to be a marvelous father and an incomparable grandfather. Our grandchildren certainly love their PawPaw.

From him I have learned to be less afraid to try new things, even if I might not be certain I will be able to do them well. Because of his willingness to just jump right in we have seen and done things from coast to coast here in the USA and all over Japan, as well as a little bit in Korea. We have also taken up camping, learned a love of guns and shooting, built a tree-house fort, and started putting in a walkway leading up to the portico outside our bedroom's exterior door. I am grateful to him for expanding my world, my experiences, and my talents.

It is because of my great love for this incredible man that I had to join the LDS Church. I knew a lifetime would not be enough, I needed him forever. Only the Mormon missionaries shared that aspect of the gospel with me. And, eventually, he heard it from them too. I will always be grateful to him for walking along this path to eternity with me.

Our daughter, Charly, brought the next amazing man into my life. She met Casey while attending the local university branch of our church here in town. To make a long story short: they became friends, fell in love, got married, and have given us three darling granddaughters.

Casey is a fine young man who loves his wife and family very much. He is also a firefighter/EMT. And, an excellent cook!

Having raised two girls it has been nice to have Casey step into my life and give me the love of a son. He has fit into our family so well. He welcomes Pete and me into their home and lives as easily as Charly does. I am grateful he has not cast me into the traditional adversarial role of mother-in-law, but just loves me as Charly's mom.

Since I began this article, our extended family has suffered a loss, so I feel it imperative to mention another fine man that has brushed up against my life.

Casey's father, Lane Allred, passed away unexpectedly on the morning of June 15, 2012. Although I did not know him well, I did like what I saw of him. He seemed to be a very kind man who loved his family. He had been a career Air Force officer, so he fit into our collection of Air Force blue guys just fine.

I suppose the most important thing about Lane, from my perspective, is that he raised a fine son who has become a great husband to my daughter and wonderful father to three of my grandchildren. From things Casey has said, I know he learned a lot from his father about being the kind of man he is. Therefore, I pay tribute to Lane for being such a good example. And, I extend my condolences to his family as they mourn his loss. May God grant them all comfort in their sorrow.

For me this holiday is about celebrating the living and honoring the dead. It isn't just about buying a gift for my husband or making a phone call to my dad, it is about remembering all the fathers who have made my life better and who have had a part in making me who I am.

Take time this Sunday to let the special fathers in your life know you care. Grandfathers, fathers, husbands, fathers-in-law, and sons-in-law all impact our lives with their influences on our extended families. Remember to tell them today that they are loved and important, 'cause it might be too late tomorrow.

© Suzann C. Darnall, JUNE 2012, San Marcos, Texas

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