As a journalist, I interview people all the time. But on Father’s Day 2018, I decided to interview my dad. We were at my parents’ farm visiting for the day, so I sat down with him for what was going to be a short Q&A. But that turned into a long afternoon of conversation. I learned so much about him that I never knew.
For the record, I hit the jackpot when it comes to dads. He is a remarkable man and beloved by so very many. A preacher for over 50 years, he has performed countless baptisms, weddings, and funerals. He has been with people on their happiest days and their saddest days. He has counseled, prayed with, loved on, and given himself and his time his entire life.
My dad is selfless, humble, kind, loving, gentle, patient, and dependable. I’ve never seen him mad or lose his temper. He is a quiet soul with a sweet spirit.
Follow My Lead
If you’re blessed to still have your dad around, I encourage you to sit down and ask him about his life. Feel free to even use some of the questions I asked my dad. One day, you will be so glad you did.
Highlights from My Interview With My Dad
The Early Years
My dad was the youngest of eight siblings and was born in his home in Carbon Hill, Alabama, on August 4, 1939.
“I was already born when the doctor got there,” my dad said. “He forgot to bring his scales, but he told my mom I weighed between 13 and 14 pounds.”
He isn’t sure where his parents came up with the name for their fourth son, but many people have always called him by his nickname “Bug.” Someone once said he crawled around like a bug when he was a baby, and the name stuck. My dad remembers hearing a neighbor wanted to name him, but he got sick and passed away before that could happen.
“I never asked my mom how she named me. I think she was about to run out of names by the time I came along. Who would name a kid Lonnie Elton?” he said.
His older sisters got married when he was a baby, and his oldest brother was in the army. It was really just my dad and his two older brothers still at home. Out of the eight children, only he and one of his brothers graduated high school. His oldest brother was his role model growing up.
His dad worked in the coal mines, and his family also had a farm. He said he admired the way his parents were able to provide for them even though they didn’t have much. They had a place to stay, food to eat, and clothes to wear.
“I was about five or six when we got electricity,” he said. “We used coal oil lamps for light and kept warm in the winter with the fireplace. We didn’t have a fridge, washing machine, or electric stove.”
He remembers having a battery operated radio, and there was no television in their house until he was a senior in high school. He drove a school bus his senior year, and his first car was a 1949 Ford Coupe.
Marriage and Children
He and my mom married at 18, had a baby at 19, and another one at 20. Two more babies came along 5 and 15 years later–I’m that last one!
“At the time I felt like I knew what I was doing, but looking back, I just wasn’t mature,” he said. “At that age you don’t realize the responsibility that marriage is.”
I asked him what he remembered about us as kids. He said when my brother was little, they went to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and he had his picture made with the actor that played Daniel Boone’s son in the TV series. My dad remembers my sister singing a song as a senior in high school: it was the first time he realized what a beautiful voice she had. He remembers that I got picked out of the audience at Opryland to go up on stage.
I asked him what was the hardest part of raising kids. He said looking back, he didn’t see anything being hard about it. “I just wanted to make sure they had what they needed and sometimes get what they wanted,” he said.
Words to Live By
He said his proudest moment as a father is just seeing his kids be successful. My dad also added that his secret to his almost 64 years of marriage to my mom is to “stay calm.”
The advice he has tried to live by is, “There’s good in everybody; you’ve just gotta find it.”
My favorite saying of his is, “It will all work out in the end. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end.”
My Dad’s Favorite Things
- Favorite book? The Bible.
- Favorite songs? Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers and Unclouded Day and City of New Orleans by Willie Nelson.
- Favorite trip? A family cruise several years ago.
- Favorite time of year/holiday? Fall–Thanksgiving.
- Favorite meal? Fried okra, fried corn, peas, meatloaf, and sweet tea.
- Favorite dessert? Peanut butter pie.
- Favorite hobbies? Tractors and gardening.
- Favorite subject in school? I liked them all. I liked school–I never wanted to miss.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Thank you for all that you do!