Give honor to whom honor is due!

Avis Ward Ministries has provided this space for you to honor someone very special to you, whether living or deceased.

"Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." Exodus 20:12

We called him ‘daddy’ and we thought he could do everything except cook. He didn’t need to cook, he had a wife and four daughters to pamper him and treat him like a king. He was the king of his humble abode. Daddy was a gentle giant. He also had two sons to help with the ‘manly’ chores and with whom he could fish and hunt. All of us helped in the vegetable and flower gardens except mother, for dermatological reasons. She was allergic to the sun.

I reminisce of my earliest memory of daddy to my last (while he was living) and my heart swells with love and pride. He was known as a God-fearing family man in our country town. He was admired and respected by everyone. You must understand, I grew up in a country town in Florida and witnessed cross-burnings a few houses from ours on a regular basis. Even these people respected my daddy. The head of this ‘supremacy’ group’s wife and my mother would do quilting, sewing, preserving and canning together. His sons would play with my brothers. This was a unique situation, for sure and not prevalent in those times.

Daddy was handsome, wise, humble, kind, friendly, intelligent, and known for his temper if you crossed his family. I recall an incident involving an inebriated neighbor and a firearm. It wasn’t funny during the incident but afterwards, we laughed hysterically. Daddy told mother to call the police just in case his buck shots didn’t bring the man around. We pleaded with daddy to stay inside and let the police handle it but this man was firing shots randomly at the house next door. My cousin, about 14 at the time, was home alone and called us. He was hiding under a bed and very frightened. Daddy went outside, with his 12-gauge, to put an end to this nonsense. As soon as one shot scattered bark from an oak tree within a few feet of our not as drunk as he pretended neighbor, he surrendered. By this time, the police arrived and took him off to jail. They never saw the 12-gauge daddy had hidden in the hedges. This was our gentle giant and protector watching over us and our cousin next door.

I learned to swim on a fishing trip with daddy. I was seven years old. We went to the lake to catch dinner. I was a tomboy and learned to do many things just to be around my dad. This particular morning, we were out on the lake and my luck was better than his. I was catching fish left and right. He’d have to help me reel ‘em in sometime. We would change locations to find a spot where the fish were biting or away from others fishing and talking too loudly. Sometimes, we’d paddle and other times we’d use the motor. I did not secure the oar as I should have and it fell in the lake. I immediately thought we wouldn’t be able to get back to land, the truck and then home. Without thinking, I jumped in the lake! Daddy was terrified. I went under as he dove in after me and I came up swimming! It happened just like that! We played in the water for awhile, with me diving off his shoulders. Daddy was a very good swimmer. He was great at everything, except cooking.

It’s often said a girl wants to marry a man like her father, if her father were a model husband to their mom. There is so much truth to that statement. I recall one of my sisters (who shall remain nameless), calling Daddy to tell him to “come remove this man from my house!" He kindly let her know the man was her choice of husband and he [daddy] had no jurisdiction in another man’s home. He asked if her life were threatened and if not, she had to handle the situation with her husband. Girls always want Daddies to ‘fix’ everything too, to make it better again. And we thought they could do it, too!

I tried not to ‘expect’ my former husband to be like Daddy but there were many things I wanted him to take care of as Daddy had done. My Daddy would:
* Keep mother’s car serviced, washed and waxed and filled with gas
*Take and pick up clothes at the dry cleaners
* Keep our shoes polished and shined
* Take the dog to the vet
* Plant flower gardens for mother

I thought even if the ex didn’t know how to garden; he could have hired someone to plant me a rose garden. I pouted over this but was careful not to say what was on my mind: “Daddy would have planted one for me." He was older and yes he would have if I’d have only asked. I could have planted one myself and now I would over waiting for someone one else to give me flowers.

Daddy had this motto as it relates to getting an education. He’d always say: “Books and boys don’t mix." I think he was the only male present with mother at most of the PTA meetings. I remember once while in high school, he and mother scheduled a conference because I wasn’t doing much homework. What they didn’t know was I took advantage of ‘study hall’ and every break I got to do my homework. I only wanted to read when I got home. I was surprised to learn it was Daddy who initiated reason for the conference.

After mother’s passing, he filled a void as much as he could and did a very good job. My siblings and I seemed to love him more. Although our youngest sibling was 20 when mother passed on, Daddy was there for us until the day he died. I encouraged his marriage to a wonderful step-mom. He never took care of himself in many ways because mother and his children were there to do it for him. He was a lousy bachelor/widower. They had a lovely marriage until he passed away. Although they had bought burial plots together, she gave us permission to intern him alongside mother.

For my siblings and I, who were blessed to have our daddy with us from our birth until his demise, Father’s Day was every day. Daily, the girls would race to draw his bath water; set the dinner table; take out his clothes; launder and iron them as needed; sit down as a family at the dinner table; and pray together. We could talk to him just as we could mother and most often times, I shared things with them together. My siblings would tease me and tell me I was going to give them a heart attack with the stories I told them! It made us closer. The last vacation my parents took together was to visit me. They spent a week with me and I was spoiled as if a child again. Mother passed away less than a month later.

Here are three amazing facts: Both parents became ill on Thanksgiving Day. Mother died 12/19/79 and Daddy died 12/12/94. Daddy died in the same hospital room mother was in before being taken to intensive care some 15 years earlier. His eyes filled with tears as we pushed him in a wheel chair into that room. He looked at me and immediately said: “This is the same room your mother was in, isn’t it?" He had just been released from the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit but knew that was the room. We were told he wouldn’t live beyond Thanksgiving night but he did and had improved enough to leave intensive care.

Father’s Day comes but once a year on the calendar. Many of us have celebrated it daily as we’ve been blessed to call someone “daddy." Daddy for my siblings and me was George W. Ward, Sr. We miss you daddy. Happy Father’s Day!
Date of Posting: 28 May 2015
Posted By: Avis Ward
George W. Ward, Sr.

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