Last month, when Mother’s Day rolled around, I wrote a blog post about how difficult Mother’s Day can be for women who want to have children but don’t or can’t. Today’s article won’t be a repeat. I’m not a man. I can’t speak for men or even my own husband about the difficulties faced by fatherless men. Maybe someday my husband will write his own article about it. Instead, I’m going to tell you about two of my favorite men: My Dads. I’ve been blessed with not just one Dad who loves me very much, but two—Larry Vincent and Vidal Jones II.
Larry Vincent was my hero. Yes, I was his first daughter, so I’m sure that had something to do with it. But, as a little girl, I thought my Dad was the coolest thing ever. He liked to wear biker boots, watch movies, loved cars, and was a pastor. How could he not be the coolest thing ever? 🙂 Some of my favorite memories where following him around as he worked on home improvement projects, discussing Phantom of the Opera, family camping trips, long discussions about politics and history often right in the middle of a movie, but sometimes around the breakfast table, the reading of the Hobbit while smoking a pipe, action flicks late on Friday nights after the younger siblings and Mom went to bed, learning to drive, hearing stories about his college days at Bob Jones University, getting to meet lots of interesting people, missionaries, and other pastors, watching Shakespeare and other culturally important plays and movies, and now hours spent on the front porch of their Texas home around the fire circle sharing our lives.
My Dad took it upon himself to do our ‘cultural’ education during my home school years. It is because of him that I have seen Cool Hand Luke, that I watched the Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, and Henry the V, instead of read them, and Dad sparked my interest in criminology, guns, and serial killers. Dad also handled our political and philosophical studies challenging us look for the worldviews of what we listened to, watched, and read. I appreciated Dad’s willingness to stop sheltering us as we grew older and allowing us to explore our world while we still lived safely at home. I appreciate his constant lessons on hard work and his love for Mom. Dad always said he loved us, but he loved my Mom more. This wouldn’t be so popular in our child-centric society, but as a kid, I didn’t struggle with a fear of my parents getting a divorce. Dad also never tolerated us being mean to each other. I think this is why my siblings and I have such a strong bond with one another. We were never allowed to be hateful and were always encouraged to look out for each other.
More than all of this, I’m thankful that my Dad never stopped giving us the gospel. He never sugar-coated our bad behavior as anything other than sin in need of a savior. He led daily family worship, insisted on a honoring of the Sabbath, and Church attendance without every communicating these things would save us. I’m thankful for his diligent efforts to raise, feed, and prepare me for this thing called life. I’m thankful he never stopped doing these things even when I didn’t appreciate them so much, and I’m thankful that he loves me.
My second Dad, Vidal Jones II, welcomed me into his home when I was 18 with open arms and a bit of distrust. I had, after all, come to steal his son away. 🙂 I was successful, but I think I can confidently say that Vidal did not lose a son, but gained a daughter.
Vidal and I hit it off very quickly when he realized I could dish it out with him as soon as he served it up. Ribbing is part of being a Jones and a Vincent.
Vidal was that father that got to spoil me. (Feeding five kids is expensive, so my Dad never got to spoil any of us like he wanted.) He took me shopping for my birthday, bought me stuffed animals, included me in Christmas gifting, and made me feel like the princess of the family. When Price and I got married, my relationship with Vidal continued to grow. We both enjoy talking politics, history, and military history. Vidal is my Vietnam Vet. My very own. I appreciate his service to our country more than I can every put into words.
I think Vidal and I connected quickly as father-in-law and daughter-in-law because we both grew up in families of five. My father was a pastor and his father was a music minister. We both have some pretty silly stories of our childhood, but his stories have me beat flat-out. I could spend hours, and have spent hours, listening to Vidal talk about some of the crazy things he did growing up. We even spent one night around the dinner table comparing scars and the stories behind them. That’s pretty normal, right? How did you bond with your spouse’s parents? 😉
Now I live next door to Vidal and my extra mom, Wanda. They still spoil me on a regular basis though the spoiling is shared with my nieces, their grandkids. I’m okay with that. 🙂 After being a Jones for almost 12 years now, Vidal and I still talk about politics, still share stories about our childhoods, and still talk about our books. I appreciate Vidal because he is always supportive about every choice my husband and I make while asking good questions and sharing his vast years of experience. I love Vidal because he made it easy for me to become part of my new family when I married my husband. I love Vidal because he took a young woman after his son under his wings and turned her into his daughter.
We all have a father, but the Lord doesn’t bless everyone with a dad. He doesn’t bless everyone with a good relationship with their dad, and he doesn’t give everyone in-laws who make them part of the family. I’m so thankful God did all three of those things for me. I love my Dad so much that it’s hard to put it into words, even as a writer. I love my extra-Dad just about as much.
Happy Father’s Day!