By WALT ALBRITTON
Several people colored the way I look at life. Some touched me with lovely pastel colors, calling forth in me a gentleness long ignored and slow to develop. Others stroked me with vivid colors that created an intense enthusiasm for life. Still others, like my Daddy, stroked me with bold colors that birthed a driving ambition to make a difference with my life.
“Daddy” was what I called my father for 50 years. I never called him “Father.” To me and my siblings, our parents were Daddy and Mama. In later years, until he passed away at age 93, Daddy’s name became “Papa” in our family. I rejoiced to learn that when Jesus prayed, he addressed God as “Abba, Father.” The word “Abba” was a colloquial term, used by Jewish children, that is best translated as “Daddy” or “Papa.” Frankly, that melts my heart.
Daddy painted my life by being the person he was – a pillar of strength – in our home. He influenced the way I see life by the power of his example – by the way he lived life.
He was a strong man. He worked hard all day, all his life, from sunup until sundown. There was not a lazy bone in his body. Few things could deter him when his mind was made up. When the cows needed feed on a winter day, stormy weather never slowed him down.
His routine seldom wavered. Bedtime was 10:30 p.m.. He arose at 4:30 every morning, determined not to “burn daylight.” Even in retirement, he got up at 4:30 to drink coffee, prepare breakfast, listen to the weather on the radio and read The Upper Room and his Bible.
Growing up in that environment gave me a strong work ethic. Never sleep late. Get up. Get at it. Keep at it until what needs to be done is finished. That attitude was engrained in me as a child.
Daddy’s honesty influenced me. He was a man of his word. He meant what he said and he expected the same from others. He had no patience with liars.
In my teen years I discovered that Daddy had a good reputation. I was never ashamed to be known as his son. In those growing up years I was called “Walter Junior.” People trusted Daddy. I felt proud to be his son. I never heard a person speak ill of Daddy.
Family was important to Daddy. We ate our meals together at a table that he built, and we never began eating until he had offered a prayer of thanks. As little children we were taught to honor God for His provision.
I have observed some children speak disrespectfully to their mother, even sometimes implying that she was stupid. Such contempt nauseates me and Daddy is responsible for my attitude. He did not tolerate disrespect for Mama. My siblings and I learned there was a price to pay for “talking back” to Mama. My sons will tell you that I followed Daddy’s example by insisting that they treat their mother with the utmost respect.
Daddy seldom talked about his faith in God; he just lived it. One of my first books was a book of Bible stories filled with pictures. Though my interest was more in Tarzan and the Lone Ranger, Daddy and Mama made sure I also knew about Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Unless “the ox was in the ditch,” we went to church every Sunday. Alcohol and tobacco were off limits.
Like all of us, Daddy was flawed but his strengths outnumbered his weaknesses. In my middle years I began to realize how his strong example had shaped my attitudes. Now, it gives me great joy to remember fondly the many ways Daddy colored my life and the rare privilege of having been his son. So you will not be surprised to know I pray often that one day my sons will be thankful for whatever ways my example has colored the way they look at life.