Dad’s friends gave me a hand
by Chris Collett
June 14, 2014 12:00 AM | 3553 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chris Collett<br>Columnist
Chris Collett
Father’s Day and my birthday fall on the same day this year. This will be the eighth time this has happened since I was born in 1962. It will be the fourth time it has happened since Lindsey was born in 1988.

This can mean one of three things. I will get nothing, two gifts or one gift combined to cover both. At my age, material things just don’t hold the significance as they once did.

Growing up, my dad was always close friends with Herb Johnson, Frank Saxon and James Groves. Following suit, I was always good friends with Alan Johnson, Lance Saxon and Brian Groves.

Our dads even bought a cabin one time together across from Highway 108 in Sutallee. This is where we would meet for cookouts and day-long motorcycle rides on U.S. Army Corps property we referred to as “the reservation.”

This was where Lance’s older brother, Randy Saxon, taught us the art of snipe hunting. Randy took great pride in teaching us this lesson in reaching adulthood.

All of our daddies were active in our lives. They all made sure we had what we needed. And most importantly, they all were quick to straighten us up when we needed it.

One time, Frank had a stack of bricks he intended to do something with. Lance and I thought it would be a good idea to bust them up with a hammer. That didn’t turn out too well.

There was another time Alan and I thought it would be a good idea to throw a party when his parents were gone somewhere. In the aftermath of the party it was discovered that a gun was missing from the Johnsons’ home. Herb gave us very little time to find it. We did.

I remember the time Brian and I were playing ball in the house when his family lived on Main Street in Canton. James entered the room, more than likely to tell us to keep it down for the night. Brian thought it would be a good idea to throw a ball at his dad’s face and say “think fast” right before hitting James. We laughed. We discovered very shortly that the incident wasn’t nearly as humorous as we thought.

Someway, somehow, all four of our parents have managed to stay together all of these years. I was unable to do the same.

On this Father’s Day I remember the worst argument I ever had with my own daddy. It was my fault and all mine. I left home for a few days and stayed at the home of Ralph and Elaine Lewis. Mark Lewis and I were good friends at the time. I remember Ralph telling me after about two days, “Son, you can stay here as long as you want. But you will go fix things at home. When you get it fixed, you are welcomed to come back and stay if you want.”

So I went home and fixed it. I didn’t go back to live with the Lewises. But I have never forgotten what Ralph said on that day and the wisdom with which he said it.

Daddy retired at 57. He enjoyed about 13 years before the Alzheimer’s struck.

All of his friends I have spoken of are about the same age. They all have good minds. They all are there to offer advice to their children. I am thankful for their good fortune.

I sometimes ask myself what daddy did different. Why was he chosen to suffer with this terrible disease? Some religious zealots might say maybe he is paying for his sins. That’s not true. If it were true, most of us would be in ICU.

If I had one wish for my birthday it would be to have just one hour that I could talk to my daddy like many of my friends can talk to theirs. That sounds selfish and I don’t mean it to be.

If I had one wish for Father’s Day it would be that my daughter has complete happiness in her life.

I wish I could tell Daddy I’m sorry for the many times I let him down and embarrassed him. But I can’t.

But I pledge to be a better daddy to Lindsey.

So Herb, Frank and James, it was probably me that got your boys in trouble. So I am doing like Ralph said, fixing things while I can.

Happy Father’s Day to you all.

Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.

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