I can’t speak for you, but I was truly blessed to be born to Fred and Cecil Duerson back in 1959 in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Lexington, KY.
God really does have a sense of humor because I was the first of three children to be born to this God fearing couple. He knew their “wild child” would need a special brand of parenting!
My Dad turns 77 next month. Since this is a weekend to celebrate fathers, let me tell you about the man who sowed seeds of love, faith and caring into my life.
People always say I have my Dad’s pointy nose and his caring personality. One reason we are so close is that we’re so much alike. We fret over the lives of family members and friends; when we get stressed it makes us sick and we always, always want to believe the best about people.
When I think of my Dad I am reminded that with faith all things are possible. This is a man who has worked hard all his life to support his wife, children and other family members. He still works two jobs — mostly to stay active and to be able to help his family above and beyond.
He and Mom mother cared for his aunt, Essie Gatewood Frakes in her latter years. This morning, Dad said Aunt Essie gave him a Father’s Day gift from the grave! He found an old Singer sewing machine in her things downstairs. He took it to a sewing store, opened the case and found the light on the machine was still working and it was already threaded! “Aunt Essie is still blessing me,” he said. A woman bought the machine for $150 and told Dad she would call it Essie. That made his day because his dear Aunt Essie, who lived to be 101, is his inspiration for good living.
He gets misty-eyed when talking about Aunt Essie, often reciting her favorite saying, “I know the Lord has laid his hands on me!” My Dad’s father skipped out when he was a baby, leaving his mom with five children to raise. She did the best she could with the support of family and friends. My grandfather re-entered my father’s life just in time for his high school graduation, when he offered to buy him a suit of clothes.
That was clearly a turning point in the life of my father. He vowed to always be there for his children. When we call him early in the morning or late at night, he is there. When his four granddaughters needed cars, he paid for them. When his great grand-children and younger grandchildren want him to go fishing or make the annual trek to the pumpkin patch, he is at the ready. This is a man who still slips gas money in my pocket when I come home!
Our relationship is now one of deep friendship. We get on the phone several times a month. Some of the conversations — about sports, family, church business and politics — stretch beyond an hour. In the last year, with Joe facing serious illness and surgery, my Dad’s text messages have kept me afloat. They are short and to the point, “Hey Angela, how are you today?”
At Thanksgiving, Dad & Mom came to Atlanta with a full dinner in tow. I told my mom they sell turkeys in Atlanta, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She and Dad put that Kentucky turkey on ice and loaded up the car with homemade wheat yeast rolls, greens, cornbread dressing and all the trimmings. But God! That meal, and the fellowship, was right on time.
Dad has been the person I’ve leaned on the most this last year. He is a caring listener who knows my limitations. He knew God was testing me, and he knew I’d need encouragement to fulfill my role of caregiver.
Early in Joe’s journey, Dad shared the 46th Psalm: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.”
I thank God daily for a praying father who has left a lasting legacy on his family. As we talked this morning, he reminded me of Aunt Essie’s essence: “That’s why God puts us here. He doesn’t put us here to build up ourselves; he puts us here to leave something for someone else.”
He went on to say: “I’m thankful for you all and thankful for family. I know where I come from and I’m just thankful. We all have come through some stuff, and we’ll probably still go through some stuff. But if we lean on Him, He will get us through.”
“As you get older, hopefully that’s what drives you. It’s not all this worldly stuff.”
Amen, Fred Duerson. Amen.
Much love everyone. Let’s enjoy celebrating our fathers and the memories of our fathers who have gone Home to Glory.
Left to right: Cecil Duerson, my niece Kristen LaRue; Fred Duerson and I at Megan LaRue’s graduation from Kentucky State University in May of 2012. Dad is proud of his six grands and three great-grands!