A Father

A father is a person who is forced to endure childbirth without an anesthetic.

He growls when he feels good and laughs very loud when he is scared half-to-death.

A father never feels entirely worthy of the worship in a child's eyes. He is never quite the hero his daughter thinks . . . Never quite the man his son believes him to be. And this worries him sometimes. (So he works too hard to try to smooth the rough places in the road of those of his own who will follow him.)

A father is a person who goes to war sometimes . . . and would run the other way except that war is part of his only important job in his life, (which is making the world better for his child than it has been for him.)

Fathers grow older faster than people, because they, in other wars, have to stand at the train station and wave goodbye to the uniform that climbs onboard. And, while mothers cry where it shows, fathers stand and beam . . .outside . . . and die inside.

Fathers are men who give daughters away to other men, who aren't nearly good enough, so that they can have children that are smarter than anybody's.

Fathers fight dragons almost daily. They hurry away from the breakfast table, off to the arena which is sometimes called an office or a workshop. There, with callused hands, they tackle the dragon with three heads; Weariness, Works, and Monotony. And they never quite win the fight, but they never give up.

Knights in shining armor; fathers in shiny trousers: There's little difference as they march away each workday. I don't know where father goes when he dies, but I've an idea that, after a good rest, wherever it is, he won't just sit on a cloud and wait for the girl he's loved and the children she bore. He'll be busy there too . . .repairing the stars, oiling the gates, improving the streets, smoothing the way.

~ Author Unknown ~

My Father...

When I was:

Four years old: My daddy can do anything.

Five years old: My daddy knows a whole lot.

Six years old: My dad is smarter than your dad.

Eight years old: My dad doesn't know exactly everything.

10 years old: In the olden days, when my dad grew up, things were sure different.

12 years old: Oh, well, naturally, Dad doesn't know anything about that. He is too old to remember his childhood.

14 years old: Don't pay any attention to my dad. He is so old-fashioned.

21 years old: Him? My Lord, he's hopelessly out of date.

25 years old: Dad knows about it, but then he should, because he has been around so long.

30 years old: Maybe we should ask Dad what he thinks. After all, he's had a lot of experience.

35 years old: I'm not doing a single thing until I talk to Dad.

40 years old: I wonder how Dad would have handled it. He was so wise.

50 years old: I'd give anything if Dad were here now so I could talk this over with him. Too bad I didn't appreciate how smart he was. I could have learned a lot from him.

Danielle Hollister

(A Tribute I Wrote For My Dad In Our Family Newspaper)

Bill Oliver - Patriarch
Charlene Oliver Baumgardner (now Williams), daughter

From the 1977 Summer Issue of The Mountain Record--A Record of the Oliver Family

I don't remember my father working for I was born late in his life. But from hearing Dad and his friends reminisce, I realize he risked his life for 50 years in a coal mine to support his family. I was 5 years old when my father become disabled due to black lung disease. There wasn't much money in our home, but the love of our parents and their faith and trust in God provided a security that money could not buy.

One of my favorite memories is sitting out on the front porch in the summer or around the stove in the winter listening to tales that happened years before. Dad would tell of incidents that had happened to him--such as close calls in the mines, playing semi-pro baseball in Harlan, etc. He would also talk of his parents and tell great "ghost" tales. Most of the time, I fell asleep listening to these reminiscences. Dad used to tell me about the sad songs he would sing to me. One song he would sing was called "Dark as a Dungeon Way Down in These Mines " and I would just scream every time he sang it.

As I said before, Dad became disabled when I was very young; therefore, every time Dad went somewhere, my brother and I thought we should be allowed to go with him. We had a driveway to our house, and when Dad would go some place that we couldn't, he would let us ride on the running board down to the gate and let us off. I remember riding most of the time in an "old red International truck" that had been Uncle Jay's. That truck was something else. It even had a fan that set on the dash to cool us off. But we really liked to ride in the back of that truck. Dad spent a lot of his days hunting and fishing. In the Fall, we always went out in the woods and looked for hickory nuts to eat and to also see if the squirrels were biting. We loaded that truck many of a winter with saw dust from the lumber mills to pack around the water pipes so they wouldn't freeze.

A lot of Friday nights were spent at Uncle Pete's and Aunt Dora's. Those of you who remember Uncle Pete will know how much these visits were looked forward to. He and Dad would sit and talk of the "old days"; but most of the time, Uncle Pete was busy teasing my brother and I. A lot of time, especially in the summer, Uncle Pete and a friend of his, Dummy, would spend the whole afternoon playing checkers.

Most of our days started the same way. Dad and my Mom, Theresa, were always early risers and big eaters. Therefore, usually around 7 or 8 in the mornings, we were seated around a table loaded with biscuits and gravy, eggs, and some type of meat being served. Until many years later, most of our food was prepared on an old "coal stove" that would burn you up in the summer. Dad would not have gas installed until he and Mom couldn't carry coal into the house. His reasoning was "You don't bite the hand that has fed you all your life". I think I was a teenager before I figured out that John L. Lewis was the president of the coal miners union not the President of the United States. Dad even had a large oval guilt-framed picture of him hanging on the wall.

Our family life centered around the church. Dad has been involved with the Baptist Church in some way for as long as I remember. The last 20 years or so, he has been a Deacon in the church he helped found (The First Independent Baptist Church--LaFollette, Tennessee). I can see him now sitting where we called the "Amen Corner" and listening to the choir sing and to the Minister deliver the sermon. Every Sunday morning, Dad said the Blessing for the offering. This past Father's Day, Dad was honored at Church. I couldn't be there, but my mother and my brother Bill and his family were with him. Mom said it was a touching and emotional service. It was Dad's first attendance at church since he suffered a stroke.

Of course, we all grow older and we all leave home to get married or find work. When I left, it broke Dad's heart. I can see him sitting on the front porch looking so old and heartbroken that I almost didn't leave. Dad was released from the hospital not too long ago after being hospitalized for various reasons. We all know that his time is near. But I just want to tell him now before it's too late what a wonderful Father he is and that I love him very much.

(NOTE: William "Bill" Oliver died 2 years (in 1979) after this was written. He and Theresa died 2 weeks apart.)