Sunday, June 20, 2010

"The Giant" A Tribute To My Dad

Today marks the third anniversary of "For What It's Worth". My hope is that through these ruminations, I may have brought some challenge, food for thought, and maybe a smile or two your way. Thank you for reading and responding , as many of you have over the past three years. Since today is the third birthday of my blog, and in honor of my Dad on Father's Day, I am reprinting my very first blog post from three years ago today. Happy Father's Day, Dad!

June 20, 2007

The Giant
It’s been 50 years ago, or so, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It generally happened early on Saturday mornings. My little brothers and I would be on the living room couch watching black and white cartoons on TV when the big voice would boom out of Mom and Dad’s bedroom. “I’m the giant and this is my island!” That is all we needed to hear. We would make a mad dash for the bed where Dad had been sleeping and immediately upon jumping in the bed, we would find ourselves flipping off the other side. That was the nature of the game.

It was sort of a horizontal “King of the Hill” contest. Dad was the giant and the bed was his island. The challenge for us was to dislodge him from the island. It was a futile effort on our part, but was tremendous fun to wrestle with and team up on the big guy in the family. I’m not sure that we ever were able to move the giant from his island, but I wouldn’t trade the memories for anything.

Quality time with Dad then was precious and rare. He worked a 40 hour week at International Nickel Company, preached twice every Sunday, and held as many as 19 revival meetings a year. As a normal routine, Dad would rush home after work each day, jump in and out of the tub, eat a quick dinner, jump in the car and drive as far as Portsmouth, OH; Logan, Charleston, Point Pleasant, WV; or Wurtland, KY; preach to a packed house, drive back home, climb in bed and get up early the next morning and do it all over again. Back in those days, revival meetings always lasted two weeks, and often times went three or four. It was not uncommon to see from 25 – 40 people make professions of faith during those services. I remember one stretch when Dad was in church somewhere every night, for 100 straight evenings. I think it is safe to say that he burned the candle at both ends.

Busy as he was, he was always careful to spend quality time with his boys. Whether it be “I’m the Giant and This is My Island”, a game of catch in the back yard, the occasional trip to see the Reds at Crosley Field, or just the time we spent together in church (or on the way to or from) those times were very special to us. Many of you know Dad as the old guy in the McDonalds breakfast gang, or that fellow that never met a stranger, or the guy with a corny joke for every occasion, or the character on Row 9 at Edwards Stadium with a funny hat and silly glasses on to celebrate each Herd touchdown. He is all of those fellows, but Bruce and Carl and I remember him as the hard charging, fiery preacher, who was one of the busiest evangelists in the Tri State area. We know him as the orator that could paint a picture in a sermon so vivid that you could almost feel ground shake when Goliath fell hard from the blow of David’s stone, or see Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walking around loose in the fiery furnace. In fact one guy once yelled out during Dad’s message, “I can see them in there!”, but that is another story for another time.

Caudle Adkins, Jr. was born at Dehue in Logan Co, WV in 1927. He was often fond of saying that Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic and Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs that year to celebrate his birth. Like many other young men, he quit school to join the military in World War II, and although a Sailor through and through, he never learned to swim! He had the good sense to marry Patsy Stidham, the best girl in Logan County, and to get out of the coal mines while he was young enough to move to Huntington and get a new career started at INCO.

Dad celebrated his 80th birthday last month. During his nearly 6 decades in ministry he has preached countless messages, married lots of couples, buried many friends, comforted the grieving, eaten lots of fried chicken, encouraged thousands of Christians, and won hundreds of people to Jesus. Aside from one aunt (who is only a few years older than him), Dad is the last surviving member of his family and has lived to see his grandchildren and great grandchildren, who all love and respect him. He has more friends than anyone I have ever known.

My younger brother, Bruce, has the Adkins looks and inherited many of Dad’s qualities, and keeps links with both sides of Dad’s family. Youngest brother, Carl, inherited his tireless work ethic and his easygoing manner and his ability to schmooze with anyone.

I am thankful that I got his name, although at times it has been hard to live up to all that goes with it! That name was passed on to his oldest grandson and great grandson as well. My son, Jay and I have followed Dad in ministry. Much of our family went down to New Orleans a couple of weeks ago for Jay’s graduation from Seminary. Dad seemed to be pretty proud that day.

Later, Jay told me something that really touched me. He said that during the graduation ceremony, while the congregation was standing and singing, he looked over and saw Dad standing there at the end of our family’s row. Jay said, “I looked over there and thought, If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be here now. That’s my Heritage. It brought tears to my eyes”, he said.

Physically, Dad doesn’t seem as big to me as he did on those Saturday mornings, way back when, but even now, to me – he is still “The Giant”.

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