Honor Your Father and Mother
1Children, obey your parents in the Lord [as His representatives], for this is just and right.2 Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother.
Daddy was not the perfect father. Oh, he loved us and we were his sunshine. He parented in the manner he thought best at the time just as most parents do. His father treated his eleven children harshly and that’s what Daddy knew. We knew when Daddy spoke we obeyed because we feared the consequences. All four of us grew up dealing with emotional struggles. He caused deep wounds by his words, but especially to two of my sisters.
Growing up my sisters and I awoke to Daddy singing the chorus to You Are My Sunshine. That was his song to his babies. Singing us awake, singing us to the table, singing us to dress, Daddy had a song for just about anything. He grew up being sung to by his mom who also taught him to play the piano, to dance and to sing.
His mom wrote music, choreographed it and traveled the Vaudeville circuit with Daddy and his sister Florence performing. Later he sang in churches and at revivals. After returning from World War II RCA offered him a recording contract. He turned it down. He told the record company that God called him to preach and pastor. Daddy walked away from the glitz and glamour of musical fame to the grit and grind of ministering from the pulpit and homes. He wanted to honor his Heavenly Father with the gifts he felt God entrusted to him. He wanted to preach and not perform.
Daddy continued teaching us to sing four-part harmony and arranged for us to perform. We sang in churches, fairs, fundraisers, competitions and around the piano just for fun. We sang hymns. We sang jingles. We sang country ballads. We sang Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Doris Day and the Lennon Sisters. No matter the venue we included in our repertoire the chorus to You Are My Sunshine.
He spent the last few years of his life in a nursing facility. While there he desired to live his life continuing to honoring God. The first few years there he sat in his doorway greeting each person entering or leaving. Some chatted with him, some asked him to pray with them or some to sing with them. He took each hand in his and affirmed each one. Bedridden his last two years he would sing You Are My Sunshine with different staff members, harmonizing with his beautiful tenor and slowing the last note, holding it and fading the “away.”
My sisters and I spent those last two years, a week or two at time staying in town so he would see one of us each day. We desired to honor our father and pour out the love of God on him. We watched baseball or football with him, read to him, or sat with him while he napped. But before leaving him we sang hymns or old ballads harmonizing and concluding with You Are My Sunshine. As he grew weaker he reached to hug each of us often and repeated, “Sorry.”
Daddy died October 19, 2014. Prior to him leaving us my sisters and I stood around his bed holding hands and singing in four-part harmony Amazing Grace and the Doxology. We each went to him, again told him we forgave him and we loved him. Soon after we crooned You Are My Sunshine he went “away” gazing into the shining face of the Son standing at the right hand of God. I imagine him singing hallelujah’s with the angels.
Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible,
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)