My dad hasn’t always been a primarily positive person, but today, at 67 years old, he is usually in a very happy state of mind. My dad has struggled with depression at various times in his life. I am glad right now is not one of those times. Today is Father’s Day. My dad even announced this morning in front of the usual Big Sandy crowd that he believes this has been the best Father’s Day ever :). I don’t know how true this statement was, but it made me feel good either way.
This year Father’s Day fell on June 18th. My dad is preaching Sunday School as I’m writing the first hand-written draft of this story. I really have been paying close attention to the lesson he’s teaching from the first chapter of Proverbs about the “Warning Against Rejecting Wisdom.” Unfortunately, I have plenty of first-hand experience with doing exactly that: rejecting wisdom from God, my family, my friends, the list goes on. I’ve always been told to listen to that still, small voice inside me. I’ve found that it’s extraordinarily hard to hear with the noise of the world surrounding me. I guess I just need to keep listening.
I’m glad God wanted wisdom to be portrayed as a woman in this particular proverb. My dad thinks this choice was made because women were largely ignored in Biblical days. I’m so thankful for the suffragettes who fought for women’s rights years before I was born. I’m also incredibly thankful the Holy Spirit saved the Bible for approximately 4000 years. The Holy Bible has stood the test of time extraordinarily well. According to Google’s advanced algorithms, there have been 129,864,880 books published in all of modern history. I’m going to write that number out for effect and to save you from having to think through that yourself if you haven’t already done it: that’s one hundred twenty-nine million, eight hundred sixty-four thousand, eight hundred eighty books. That massive number only includes our modern history, and I cannot find Google’s definition of what year that time period starts in their blog post describing the book-counting process. History is admittedly not my strongest subject. Googling my own question told me this:
“Early modern European history is usually seen to span from the start of the 15th century, through the Age of Reason and the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, until the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century.”
That answer came from Wikipedia, though. College professors won’t allow me to use that as a source, so I searched for a better answer. I found a highly helpful chart.
Here’s what google did to count all the books of the world: http://booksearch.blogspot.com/2010/08/books-of-world-stand-up-and-be-counted.html
Sometimes I suffer from tangential thoughts; let me return to my dad’s life to introduce the next part of this tale.
A story of my dad’s which reminds me of his unfailing faith in mankind comes from one of his two years spent at Freed-Hardeman University. Freed-Hardeman is a four-year institution now, but it was not when my dad attended the college. The following memory was relayed by my dad after church while he sat in his favorite chair, and I typed everything he said.
During one of my very positive phases, I decided to talk to Coach Kirk. At the time he was the assistant basketball coach at Freed-Hardeman, the full time baseball coach, the coach of the gymnastic team, the Griffins, and he also taught several physical education courses. He was also the manager of the Mid-South Youth Camp, Freed-Hardeman’s Christian camp for high school students.
I went to the Mid-South Youth Camp unannounced one day, and he took time to talk to me. My idea was this: someone with whom I graduated, Doris Bethel, had been involved in a terrible car accident her senior year and had been in a semi-coma for the last several months. I proposed to Coach Kirk that the gymnastics team, the Griffins, charge fifty cents a person for putting on a show at Greenfield High School and give the proceeds to the Doris Bethel family. The Griffins usually performed free exhibitions as a public relations program for Freed-Hardeman college. I also proposed to him that I be the manager of the Griffins, a position hitherto unknown (My Dad invented this position). Coach said, “That’s a good idea.”
The first day he was going to be the manager of the Griffins, Coach said, “Why don’t you be a Griffin yourself?”
I said, “I’m no good.”
He said, “You can do it.”
I said, “Ok.”
And Coach Kirk became the most patient coach in the history of mankind, because I have the coordination of a drunk penguin. To this day I believe he prayed every time I did something, and I didn’t die so his prayers evidently were answered. We did do the benefit at Greenfield High School for Doris Bethel. We raised over $350, which at the time was a lot of money. Practically everyone in grades K-12 came out to support the family. There were 700 students in Greenfield Schools at the time.
At the end of the program, Mr. Wilton Roberts, the principal, said, “And now, lets give a special hand to the individual who promoted this program, Gary Smithson.”
Coach said, “Smithson, stand out.” Everyone stood up and clapped, I got chills up and down my spine. It was one of the best moments of my life. Thank you Lord that I didn’t break my neck. It was a very, very special day for me. The worst gymnast that Greenfield ever produced, that Freed-Hardeman ever had, got a standing ovation.
Me, “You don’t know that.”
Daddy, “Oh I do, It’s not being falsely modest; it’s the truth.”
As an epilogue, you can say that a little over 42 years later, I was in Linden, TN, where a retired Coach Kirk lives. I called him up and said, Coach Kirk it’s Gary Smithson, I was the worst gymnast that Freed ever produced!” and I chuckled.
He laughed and said, “I remember you, you knucklehead.”
Me, “Did he call you that in school?”
Daddy, “I don’t remember him ever calling me that.”
We had a nice lunch, and that was another great moment. He and his wife ate with Mariallie and I. We ate lunch at the Commodore Hotel in downtown Linden. It was a weekend trip for some kind of festival there. I don’t remember the name of the festival.
That’s my dad. I think he’s pretty great! Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!