June 2015

I believe in equal opportunity.  We recognized our mothers last month and this month we pay tribute to the fathers. 
My father was William Nathan Hawkins born into a family with two other brothers and three sisters.  He was the oldest sibling and thus inherited a work ethic very early in life.  His father was a farmer and that trade was passed down to the sons. My father and his brothers purchased a tract of land near Hodgenville, KY.  where they farmed together.  When dad married my mother, Maude O’Brien Routt, he bought out his brothers which gave him sole possession.  My father worked very hard in making his farm one of the better farms in LaRue County. 
As I became of age, dad began to share the “chores” on the farm.  That entailed my feeding the pigs, milking cows, pulling weeds, picking rocks out of the fields, etc.  In my teenage years I was given the responsibility to mow, rake and to haul hay to the barns where we stored the bales.  Additionally, set tobacco, sucker tobacco, cut tobacco, house tobacco, strip tobacco and haul it to the market to sell.   
There was much to do on the farm and dad taught me a lot about how best to run and manage it.  There were days that I fully comprehended his teachings and his instructions but there were times when I could really care less.  I have shared this story publicly but it bears repeating again. 
Dad told the tenant hands and me that a tree had fallen across the creek on the backside of our farm and was blocking the water flow.  We gathered up all the necessary equipment to chop and to saw the tree into manageable pieces.  Dad assigned the double headed axe to me and told me to cut off the branches close to the trunk so he could have better access with the saw.  Not feeling particularly in the moment, I was hacking at the limbs rather than cutting them with one swift blow. My dad was a perfectionist and he wasn’t pleased with my efforts so he showed me the best technique to cutting the limb.  My comment to him, “Why don’t you just do it yourself!”  Wrong choice of words!!!  My father proceeded to cut a limb and began to administer corporal punishment on my posterior. 
I have shared that story with our grandson, Dakota and reminded him that the reason my father had whipped me was due to my disrespecting him.  Did I learn a lesson from it?  Yes, painful at the time but it taught me a valuable life lesson.   As a father and grandfather, I want to pass on those life lessons to my daughter and grandson. 
The most important lesson I learned from dad was his dedication and commitment to serving Jesus Christ in the local church.  Dad was a trustee and a deacon at Barren Run Baptist.  Dad was faithful in tithing to the church first and has passed that on to me.  
Dad was never vocal about telling me he loved me but I knew he did through his acts of service.   I, too, rarely told him that I loved him.  That is one thing I regretted  most about our relationship.  When I boarded the plane headed to Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base in Vietnam, I shook his hand and said goodbye.  That was the last time I saw my father alive as he died while I was serving there. 
So, my life lesson for you whose father is still living, tell them you love them and thank them for doing their best in raising you.  For us, whose fathers have passed, remember the good times and those “teachable moments"