He was real. A living, breathing work of God.


dad and girls

Like a rose garden in the rain, your memory comes to life watered by my tears.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad lately. Though he has been gone for close to 50 years now, the gunshot that took him from us, still echoes deep inside. A bad decision by one individual with a sawed-off shotgun forever changed the lives of two families who lost their patriarchs and the many friends and loved ones left to grieve their loss.

Although I have long forgiven the man who wielded that shotgun, I can’t help but wonder how my life and the lives of my family would have differed. I wonder what it would have been like to grow up with my father and for my daughter to grow up with a grandfather.  His absence still ripples through the generations and can still be profoundly felt in my heart, perhaps now more than ever as I have spent the last several months working on Planes, Trains and Heroes, a book exploring the history of my hometown and the region that surrounds it.

All along this book project has been special to me. As a freelancer, each and every time I lifted a pen to capture the lives of individuals, families, business owners and churches in other communities across the United States, I dreamt of offering the same opportunity to those with whom I share my geographical DNA. I was thrilled when both the publisher and the City agreed and work finally got started in the closing weeks of 2017.

What I didn’t expect was just how personal it would become. You see, my job as project manager and managing editor, is to call on local businesses, organizations and families that themselves have a story to tell—some people and places whose roots are traced to the beginning and others who were drawn here later to become a part of our blossoming heritage.  It has been even more endearing than I anticipated as local business people reminisce and remember events and people of days gone by—including my dad! Yes, Billie Q. Gibson lives on in the memories of people I didn’t even know before now.

Unbelievable and absolutely unexpected that almost a half century since my father was transitioned into the afterlife, people still remember him and fondly so. They worked with him and served with him. They laughed with him and had lunch with him. They respected him and loved him. He WAS real. A breathing, living, work of God. My daddy.

Because he was killed when I was barely eight years old, my memories and even my thoughts of him are from the perspective of a little girl. It’s as if that part of me—the daddy’s little girl part of me—will always be frozen in time; a story that won’t be complete this side of Heaven.

In the meantime, however, hearing that people knew my dad as an adult and hearing that the picture that I had painted in my mind of a knight in shining armor, a true-to-life prince of a man was pretty much true. My dad was an awesome guy –a respected businessman as the manager of a finance company on the corner of Commercial Circle and Watson Boulevard; an active member of the community; a dedicated servant who among other things served on the board of the Civitan Club (it’s good to know those darn Claxton Fruit Cakes served a greater good!); a beloved friend to many; and, of course, a loving husband and father.

Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me this very special walk down memory lane. It was an unexpected blessing that I will cherish forever. Happy Father’s Day to You and to my earthly dad, both who await me in Heaven. I’m proud to be the daughter of The King and the little girl of a true prince

Amen and Ehmen

 

Father’s Day Feelings…


Writer’s Note: My dad was on the receiving end of a robber’s bullet many, many years ago, when I was just a little girl, robbing me of the opportunity to grow up with a father in my life. I have since forgiven the one who took him from us, but it still hurts, even all of these decades later…

 

I sit and stare at the photograph. Like my memories, it is faded. I just don’t seem to dad and girlsremember much. Black and white, shades of gray memories. I know you once existed in physical form, but, unfortunately, our life together was way too short; pretty much just a foreword and preface to my own story. Sometimes I wonder if I have blocked memories of my childhood, just because your untimely departure hurt so much. Because I know if I remember the good times then I will also have to remember how those good times ended. Those were dark days, even for an 8-year old whose most pressing decision was whether or not to climb the tree in the backyard. One day you were there and the next you were gone.

And even though my present mind sees our days together as a mere outline, like the beginning of a sketch without the details filled in, today, on this Father’s Day, I sit here and FEEL a flood of memories. I FEEL your warmth as we cuddled up on the couch and watched Elvis movies AFTER my bedtime. I FEEL your strength when you’d catch me as I leaped into your arms when you came home from work. Please forgive me if I ever hugged your neck too tight as I searched for that ever-present piece of gum in the pocket of your starched white shirt. I FEEL your gentleness and compassion as—after being banished to my room to “just wait until your father gets home—you arrived to lovingly correct me and, with the fluffy wallop of a pillow, forgave me of my transgressions. I FEEL the pride I felt when I was up at “daddy’s work.” Yes, that was me that was always rummaging in your desk drawers for change for the coke and snack machines, and no, I still do NOT want a piece of the fruitcake you sold for the Civitan Club. I FEEL thankful for all the family times, the vacations in Clearwater, Florida at the Sandlewood Hotel, the holidays, the dinners around the dining room table and all the moments for the eight years that we were together. For though I don’t remember many of the details, I DO remember the FEELINGs of LOVE—feelings powerful enough to help me navigate through your most devastating and tragic departure; through the difficult years that followed as we tried to put our lives back together; through the many years and many milestones that would have been so much more with you here; all the way through today as I spend this Father’s Day weekend feeling memories made more than four decades ago; memories that turned into a life time of love.

Thank you, God, for my earthly dad and for this walk down memory lane. But, most of all, God, I thank you for YOU and for your promise that one day my stroll down Memory Lane will bring me to Heaven’s Gate where I will once again have the chance to jump into my Daddy’s arms. Make sure you have Juicy Fruit. It was always my favorite. Happy Father’s Day to you both. Amen and Ehmen!

amen and ehmen!

dad and girlsWriter’s Note: My dad was on the receiving end of a robber’s bullet many, many years ago, when I was just a little girl, robbing me of the opportunity to grow up with a father in my life. I have since forgiven the one who took him from us, but it still hurts, even all of these decades later…

I sit and stare at the photograph. Like my memories, it is faded. I just don’t seem to remember much. Black and white, shades of gray memories. I know you once existed in physical form, but, unfortunately, our life together was way too short; pretty much just a foreword and preface to my own story. Sometimes I wonder if I have blocked memories of my childhood, just because your untimely departure hurt so much. Because I know if I remember the good times then I will also have to remember how…

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Father’s Day Feelings…


dad and girlsWriter’s Note: My dad was on the receiving end of a robber’s bullet many, many years ago, when I was just a little girl, robbing me of the opportunity to grow up with a father in my life. I have since forgiven the one who took him from us, but it still hurts, even all of these decades later…

I sit and stare at the photograph. Like my memories, it is faded. I just don’t seem to remember much. Black and white, shades of gray memories. I know you once existed in physical form, but, unfortunately, our life together was way too short; pretty much just a foreword and preface to my own story. Sometimes I wonder if I have blocked memories of my childhood, just because your untimely departure hurt so much. Because I know if I remember the good times then I will also have to remember how those good times ended. Those were dark days, even for an 8-year old whose most pressing decision was whether or not to climb the tree in the backyard. One day you were there and the next you were gone. And even though my present mind sees our days together as a mere outline, like the beginning of a sketch without the details filled in, today, on this Father’s Day, I sit here and FEEL a flood of memories. I FEEL your warmth as we cuddled up on the couch and watched Elvis movies AFTER my bedtime. I FEEL your strength when you’d catch me as I leaped into your arms when you came home from work. Please forgive me if I ever hugged your neck too tight as I searched for that ever-present piece of gum in the pocket of your starched white shirt. I FEEL your gentleness and compassion as—after being banished to my room to “just wait until your father gets home—you arrived to lovingly correct me and, with the fluffy wallop of a pillow, forgave me of my transgressions. I FEEL the pride I felt when I was up at “daddy’s work.” Yes, that was me that was always rummaging in your desk drawers for change for the coke and snack machines, and no, I still do NOT want a piece of the fruitcake you sold for the Civitan Club. I FEEL thankful for all the family times, the vacations in Clearwater, Florida at the Sandlewood Hotel, the holidays, the dinners around the dining room table and all the moments for the eight years that we were together. For though I don’t remember many of the details, I DO remember the FEELINGs of LOVE—feelings powerful enough to help me navigate through your most devastating and tragic departure; through the difficult years that followed as we tried to put our lives back together; through the many years and many milestones that would have been so much more with you there; all the way through today as I spend this Father’s Day weekend feeling memories made more than four decades ago; memories that turned into a life time of love. Thank you, God, for my earthly dad and for this walk down memory lane. But, most of all, God, I thank you for YOU and for your promise that one day my stroll down Memory Lane will bring me to Heaven’s Gate where I will once again have the chance to jump into my Daddy’s arms. Make sure you have Juicy Fruit. It was always my favorite. Happy Father’s Day to you both. Amen and Ehmen!