It is hard to believe that my Dad, Ray Crowder, died 26 years ago today.
This pic, circa 1976, taken at Little River Canyon, is one of my favorite pics of us together.
As I was making notes of things to include in this blog, I noticed that I used Father, Dad, and Daddy, at different times to speak of him. I began thinking about why I call him different titles. So, a change in direction for my thoughts.
Below you will find the Merriam-Webster.com definition for each term, followed by my connotation for each term, and a memory:
- Father – is a formal title for “a male parent” or “someone who has begotten a child.”
When I refer to him with this title, it is referring to his parental, and maybe even authoritative, disciplinary role in my life. So, I saw him as Father a lot during my childhood and teen days!!
When my Father told me to do something, I was to do it immediately, joyfully, and completely, or there would be consequences (aka discipline). I remember one Saturday when Mom was leaving to go grocery shopping that my Father told me I could not go play with my friend, Donna Vinyard (now Wood), until I cleaned up my room, and put the dishes in the dishwasher. He immediately left to visit someone in the hospital, which I, of course, took as my cue to go play with Donna.
After some time had passed, I heard my Father calling—OK, yelling, “SHIRLEY JEANNE!” You know you’re in trouble when they use the first and middle names, don’t you? Sadly, I arrived home well before I thought of a some-what-believable excuse.
I was grounded, which meant I could not play with any friends, not even my own brother! In addition, for a whole week, I was to do the laundry (under mom’s or his supervision, of course), vacuum the entire house everyday, help Mom with all the meal preparation, serving, and clean-up—including wiping down everything! I could, of course, go to Sunday School, Sunday morning service, Training Union, and Wednesday night prayer meeting. I could also walk directly to school and home again.
That was my Father loving me enough to teach me to be submissive to authority, and that every decision I make has a consequence; some which I would perceive as positive and some I would perceive as negative.
- Dad – is an informal title for “a person’s father.” A handwritten note in a file I have on Fathering reads: “Being a dad means ‘being there’ for your child(ren).” (Unfortunately I did not notate the source.)
If memory is serving me well, I began referring to him as Dad in my teen years. It is more informal and indicative of me becoming more independent of my parents, of my becoming more mature—OK, maybe older is more accurate! Perhaps the best marker of this shift was learning to discuss and debate things with him.
One Saturday night when I was in high school, friends invited me to go to a movie. Since Dad knew those going, and the young man who would be driving us (can’t remember if it was Ricky Clay or Charles Garrett), he gave me permission to go. However, since I had to get up early the next morning to help prepare all the food we would be taking to church for a covered dish lunch, I was to come home right after the movie.
Well, of course, after the movie the group decided we should go to El Burrito, and I didn’t want to miss out on anything! When I didn’t get home around the time Dad expected me, he told mom, “They wanted to get something to eat. I’m sure that’s where she is.”
(Now, before you think my Dad was an unconcerned parent, that everyone in the city of Gadsden knew Ray Crowder. So, if we had been in a wreck someone would have called him.)
On the way home, my mind kicked into gear as I suddenly remembered I was going to be in trouble for disobeying my Dad. I did have a dime and could have called and let my friends help me convince him to let me go get something to eat, but alas …
When I walked in the house (the door into the kitchen), there sat Dad at the kitchen table. Being the discerning teenager I was, I could tell immediately that I was in big trouble! He wasn’t reading the paper, or drinking iced sweet tea, or eating a snack. He didn’t even look angry, he was just sitting there looking at me.
I sat down in a chair directly across from him. He continued sitting motionlessly and silently, and just looked straight in my eyes. Although mom said it was not more than a minute, it seemed like an eternity to me.
Finally, Dad said, “Sweetheart” and inhaled deeply. He did not raised his voice, in fact, he spoke in that measured and controlled tone of voice indicating to me that my social life had ended—FOREVER! Mom joined us at the table.
Dad reminded me how I was continually telling him that I was a teenager, old enough to have more freedom, to make decisions on my own, and that I knew what was right and wrong.” Yep, of one thing I was certain—NO MORE SOCIAL LIFE FOR ME!
Since it was evident, at least to Dad and Mom, that I did not understand the difference in right and wrong; we spent the next hour or so making sure that I knew how the Bible, Dad, and Mom, defined right and wrong. And the consequences of sinning against God and disobeying my parents.
Forty-one years later, I remember that discussion almost word-for-word. I learned the definitions of right and wrong, although my actions since then have shown that I don’t really understand, for if I did, I would have made much different choices in myriad situations!
- Daddy – is a title for “a person’s father – used especially by young children.”
Of course I called him Daddy as a child, and even up into my early thirties (when he died), I would refer to him as “Daddy.” Now, when I speak of certain memories, or I am really missing him, “Daddy” is what comes to mind.
I must have been seven- or eight-years old when I took it upon myself to get something unplugged from an electrical outlet in the wall. I do not remember what I thought must be unplugged, but, it would not come out. So, being the brilliant youngster I was, I went into the kitchen, got a knife …
Yes, the shock knocked the breath out of me as I landed on my rear end, and it scared me!
When I screamed bloody murder, my Daddy (and my Mommy and brother Tim) came running! Before he even got to me, Daddy saw the knife on the floor near the outlet and realized what had happened. Daddy scooped me up into his arms. He and mommy checked my hands for burns, and asked me questions so they could determine if I had fried my brain. Meanwhile, Daddy was holding me tightly, while whispering—well, actually, he wasn’t whispering because I wouldn’t have heard him over my screams!—comforting words: “Daddy’s got you.” “You’re OK.” “Ssshhhh.” “Mommy and Daddy are here.”
They declared me to be OK. Then my Daddy carefully and tenderly ensured I understood what happened so I wouldn’t repeat it!
Thinking about all of this brought the following passage:
And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement
that addresses you as a father addresses his son?
It says,“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
– Hebrews 12:5-6
I am all too often reminded of my earthly Father as I remember lessons I learned through the discipline I received from him.
I hear or read things all the time that I wish I could discuss with my Dad, and I wonder, “What would Dad think about this?”
All too often, I miss my Daddy, for he protected me, kept me safe (when I allowed him to), and made everything better (and so many other things)!
Remembering my Father, Dad, and Daddy, always evokes myriad emotions, and sometimes leaves me feeling very unprotected and alone.
Yet, in His grace, the Lord always reminds me:
- I have a Heavenly Father, Who forgave my sin and saved me from an eternity of punishment through His wrath.
- This same Father God (Savior, Lord) created me to live in intimate relationship with Him. As I read, study, meditate upon, memorize, and listen to preaching of the Holy-Spirit-inspired Word, and through prayer.
- This same Abba Father lovingly and protectively holds me securely in the grip of his grace.
While Ray Crowder was far from perfect, I am blessed to have had an earthly Father, Dad, and Daddy, from whom I learned about my Heavenly Father, Savior, Lord, and Comforter.
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. – Deuteronomy 4:9
I miss my Daddy, and am comforted by my Lord!
*All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible.