In the South, even grownups often call their fathers “Daddy.”
My sister and I were no exception.
Our father was always Daddy – until the day he died. That was more than 15 years ago, and it seems that every year I discover more lessons that I learned from Daddy.
One of the most important of those lessons was to be an active part of our community. His example is probably one of the biggest influences in my being a teacher for so many years.
Being involved in my community seems second nature because of the example that Daddy set.
He was always active in our church, the one he attended his entire life. Jerusalem Lutheran Church, also called Ebenezer, was our second home. Our roots there go deep, all the way back to 1749 when the first Seckingers arrived by boat after crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
When he died, Daddy was the bell ringer and treasurer of the church. He was treasurer of another organization or two as well as a hospital volunteer. Along with several other community involvements.
He felt that as a member of a community, you were called to serve.
And so he did.
He also showed my sister and me the importance of family. He went to all of our ballgames and concerts. He played softball with us in the backyard.
He was at every significant event in our lives.
We grew up surrounded by extended family. We lived across from Daddy’s mother and sister and catty-corner to another sister – who lived next to another sister.
On Sundays the families from our crossroads gathered at Grandma’s, and Daddy’s other sisters and his brother and their families came, too. He was one of eight children. Being close to aunts and uncles and cousins seemed the normal way of life.
I didn’t realize until later what a blessing it is to grow up surrounded by family, how grounding and safe and comforting that can feel.
Perhaps being a part of a large family was a motivator for Daddy to be so involved in his community. Maybe working with others came as second nature because of that.
Whatever the reason, I’m glad that it was. His example made it easy for my sister and me to be involved in our communities when we left our country crossroads where we were surrounded by family. It made us both able to move away and become a part of communities in Northwest Georgia and Chattanooga (for me) and New England (for her).
That sense of community certainly was a big part of helping me through my breast cancer journey a couple of years ago. Being surrounded by caring, compassionate people here was much like growing up on our country intersection in Effingham County.
Daddy’s involvement in his community showed me that I’m a part of something larger than myself, a part of others who live and work and play and pray with me.
He and my mother taught my sister and me so much more, but his sense of community and service to it is one of the greatest of those lessons.
He was one of the first to show me that we are all connected. And that sense of connection became the foundation of my life.
It was nothing spoken. Daddy gave no sermons on service, no speeches on the importance of being involved in your community.
What he gave was example day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.
For his entire life.
Thank you, Daddy, for showing my sister and me how to life a meaningful life, for being love in action.
Your example is a part of every single day of my life.
Happy Father’s Day.