Father

   Written by on September 24, 2015 at 11:58 am

logo-crotts-stephenThis old planet enjoyed my father exactly 91 and a half years, to the day. Now that he is gone Earth is a dreary place made better by his life. These days I find myself remembering the good times.
A number of years ago I’d been asked to teach at a military conference in Norfolk, Virginia.  I asked Dad, who worked 6 days a week and hardly ever vacationed, to join me. To my utter surprise he agreed. Driving up he informed me he had joined the Navy there as a young man right after World War Two’s Pearl Harbor. For three days I taught a group of captains and flag officers that included the likes of General Charlie Duke, one of only twelve men to walk on the moon.
One day we were aboard the USN Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier.  It was lunch time, and I spotted Admiral Vernon Clark of the Atlantic Fleet. On an impulse I approached the officer and explained, “That’s my Dad, sir.  He’s WWII Navy, joined up here in ’42, right after Pearl.” The admiral put his coffee cup down, walked over, and saluted my father, then shook his hand and escorted Dad to eat at his table. He said to me, “It’ll be an hour.”
So Dad eats with admirals and I’m at mess with lowly captains.
And the hat. Yes, the hat. Admiral Carter gave him a Naval fleet hat which Dad put on ever so proudly. I promise you, he didn’t take off that hat for a month. At his funeral, the hat lay in his casket.
I could go on and tell you how Dad was hitchhiking home Christmas Eve during the war. He was standing in the rain on a corner of Elm Street in Greensboro late at night when a family also going home took pity on him and stopped to give him a ride. My mother was in that car. A war correspondence began that led after the war to a marriage of 63 years and three sons.
Yes, Dad did a lot of things right—work, worship of Christ, frugality, giving in secret, keeping marriage vows…And no, he wasn’t perfect. Who is? He had a temper. He could be quite gruff. Those of you who knew him can fill in the blanks. Yet as the warm tide of his life recedes from us, we find on the cold beach the memories of a lifetime, like sea shells waiting to be plucked up and treasured.
The Reverend Stephen Crotts is pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Charlotte Court House, VA. He is also the director of the Carolina Study Center, Inc., a campus ministry, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Pastor Crotts may be reached at carolinastudycenter@msn.com.

About Stephen Crotts

The Reverend Stephen Crotts is pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Charlotte Court House, VA. He is also the director of the Carolina Study Center, Inc., a campus ministry, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Pastor Crotts may be reached at carolinastudycenter@msn.com.

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