I started writing a blog about Father’s Day and it got completely out of control. Actually I was writing about three men in my life… each of them were fathers to someone other than me. But yet each of them had a very profound affect on my life.
As I continued writing I realized that this was turning more into an epic instead of what I intended my blog to be. As a result, I am breaking this one up into 3 parts… or maybe 4… there’s just no telling with me. But in any case… here is the first fathers installment.
As we approach Father’s Day I imagine there will be much writing done about fathers. I have previously written about my dad and the struggles that we had throughout my life. I have spent a lot of time thinking about other men in my life that have influenced me. I want to share a few words about them with you. These three men gave me different things that I feel have been invaluable to me… and for which I will forever be grateful.
I did not know what a prominent figure Herbert Small was in our community. I knew he was a Superior Court Judge and that this family had been around the area as long or even longer than mine, but that’s all I knew about the public man. The one I knew the best was the father of the girl I dated though a large part of my youth. He was the man that sat at the head of the dinner table every night and led discussions on every topic from politics to religion to education to the law. Dinner with him could be an intimidating thing for those of us that weren’t that well read. I remember more than one occasion where dinner ended up with encyclopedias spread out on the table with various members of the family very passionately defending their positions.
He also was an ex-Navy man I believe and as a result he enjoyed sailing. I had never been out on the water much even though I grew up in what would have to be considered a boater’s paradise. He invited me to go out sailing with the family one Saturday and of course I jumped at the chance. I was so excited about the chance to get out on the water… to get to try something new. Well, we hadn’t been out on the water long when he said to me; “Okay, Walter, you take the helm. You are the captain now.” I was petrified. Surely he wasn’t turning navigating and steering his boat over to me… someone who had trouble spelling the word sail, much less how to actually handle a boat. So I graciously declined, thinking that he was only partially kidding with me anyway. Little did I know that he was serious. He would not accept my no for an answer. So with great trepidation I took the helm. He sat close by and provide a little support but mostly left me to my own devices to figure out what to do. Over time I became a little more confident. He was always encouraging to me. He even encouraged his daughter and I to take the boat out alone, which we did. It was a wonderful experience in freedom and responsibility all rolled into one.
I can’t thank Mr. Small enough for his encouragement and confidence in my ability. No one had ever placed that level of trust in me before. I know to this day that this small act has made a difference in how I face challenges in my life… and also, was no doubt the seeds of the confidence that I have in myself today.