Father’s Day 2019

By William H. Baker

Contributing Writer

Father’s Day is observed each year on the third Sunday in June. How do you recognize the importance of your father in your life or how do you honor his memory?

While I was looking for some variations on the usual tribute to fathers, I was reminded of the song, “Watching You,” that was co-written and recorded by Rodney Atkins. The song was released in 2006 and became a number-one hit in country music. It was named the number-one song of 2007 on Billboard’s year-end chart.

Atkins, a Cumberland Gap native, said the song was inspired by his son, Elijah. He said they were together in the car, the son eating a Happy Meal, when the father slammed on the brakes and caused the boy to spill his food and say a bad word. The dad asked where his son learned to swear, and the boy responds with “I’ve been watching you. Dad, ain’t that cool? I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you.”

In the second verse, the dad goes out to the barn to pray (“Lord, please help me help my stupid self.”) And later at bedtime, the father listened to his son’s prayer and asked “Where’d you learn to pray like that?” And the response again was “I’ve been watching you.”

The famous writer and humorist Mark Twain is well known by generations. His parents and a brother and two sisters were once residents of Jamestown, Tenn. They lived there until just shortly before the birth of Mark. A quote by him about his father has become repeated over the years. His dad was a respected lawyer and leading citizen who acquired 75,000 acres of land and was regarded by neighbors as an aristocrat.

Here’s the quote from Mark Twain: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

Twain’s family had moved to the town of Florida in Missouri, providing him an interesting locale for his books, newspaper writing, and speeches.

Tennesseans claim the famous family and can partially claim Mark as one of the outstanding residents in the Cumberland Mountains. Kentuckians may not be as eager to speak as highly of the writer as their neighbors. Twain reportedly wrote that “If the world is going to end, I want to be in Kentucky because that state is always 20 years behind the others.”

Finally, in a more traditional vein, Terry Bairnson wrote this tribute for publication by Blue Mountain Arts in Colorado. It is included on a notepad that was given to me by my daughter a few years ago:

“This is for you, Dad …

An amazing, remarkable man whose example guides me, whose wisdom always points me in the right direction, and whose love I carry with me through every turn in the road. I love you.”

All of this has led us to a different perspective on this importance of Father’s Day, but it shouldn’t lessen our attention to the fathers, step-fathers, adoptive fathers, and grandfathers and their value to our generation and those that follow.