Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Verse - Father's Day Edition

Today is obviously a special day.  My birthday aside this is a day where we get to celebrate the father or fathers in our lives.  I want to take a few moments and share some things about both my (late) father and my heavenly father.

"I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.  When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.  Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life." -- Proverbs 4:11-13 (NIV)

What better wisdom can one receive?  I give all the credit to both of my fathers for the man that I am today.  If my dad didn't have the relationship w/ our heavenly father that he did then he would have not been able to pass along his wisdom and raise me to the be who am I now.

My dad passed away June 13, 1997 after a long fight with a rare form of cancer.  I lost my best friend that day.  I'll admit that I was angry w/ God.  After all I was a few days shy from turning 20 years old.  I had my whole life ahead of me and lots and lots of questions.  My dad wasn't going to be there when I got married.  He wasn't going to get the chance to become a grand parent.  I wasn't going to have my friend by my side as I took on life.  As hard as it was/is it was and still is comforting to know that above all else I know that I am still loved and that my heavenly father is always there for me.  He has brought me through so much and while things have been really tough at times He is right there beside me.

This is my dad.  Danny Hopper.  Some say I look like him.  At least in his later years he still had hair.  I lost mine in high school!  Everyone says it, but my dad was the best.  If you had the chance to know him that you would probably agree with me.  He put his family first and his wants and desires last.  He worked his entire career for Hoechst Celanese in Charlotte.  What he did there I never quite did understand.  I just knew growing up that by the time the Duck Tales cartoon was over my dad would be home.  My dad made sure that me and my brothers went to church every Sunday morning.  He sang in the choir and was part of an awesome southern gospel quartet called the Lighthouse.  I have a few of the quartet's songs on my computer hard drive and hearing his voice after all of these years is still very comforting.  I can close my eyes and see his standing on stage singing.  One of my favorite songs they sang was "Step Into the Water".

Growing up my dad would alternate between my older brother and myself taking us on Father Son trips after school let out for the summer.  He would take us wherever we wanted to go (within reason) and we'd spend the long weekend or week together...just dad and me.  I still have fond memories of going to Ghost Town or Tweetsie Railroad in the Maggie Valley, NC up in the mountains.  Or visiting the U.S.S. North Carolina in Wilmington, NC.  One of my favorite places to visit was the U.S.S. Yorktown air craft carrier in Patriot's Point located in Charleston, SC.  I remember marveling at the size of the ship, the old aircraft on display and touring the submarine nearby.  My dad was around 6'1" or 6'2" so watching him navigate through the tight corridors of the submarine was fun...especially for a little kid.  We would also visit Fort Sumter in Charleston and my dad would fill me in on all of the American history that took place in the area.  Those trips were the best and I cherish all of my memories.

Of course all of my memories of my dad don't revolve around special trips and such.  My dad was also my coach when I played ball.  My dad is the tall guy in the blue jacket.  I'm standing right in front of him.  I wouldn't say that my dad was a sports nut, but he did enjoy a variety of sports.  He coached me through tee ball and baseball.  When I got to the age where other kids would pitch I got cold feet and quite playing.  My dad didn't push me into doing something that I didn't want to.  In retrospect I wish he had pushed me a little as I loved playing baseball...but that was the kind of dad he was.  If his kids were happy then he was happy.  I have one vivid memory of playing for the Astros and our coach got in a huge dust kicking argument with the home plate umpire.  The coach was later ejected and my dad took his place.  The rest of the game was all the sudden fun because we didn't feel like we had the added pressure from our regular coach to win.  My dad wanted everyone to have fun playing while out on the field or standing in the batter's box.

On most weekend's you could find my dad outside.  It seemed his "deal" with my mom was that he would take care of everything outside of the house if she took care of the stuff inside.  He took pride in his vehicles and always kept them cleaning.  Just about every weekend he'd be in the drive way washing and waxing his truck.  My favorite was his 80's model Chevy Silverado two tone red/white pickup.  He was ever so careful of getting his truck dirty.  I can remember being somewhere in Charlotte with him driving down the road.  I'm not sure where we were going of where we came from, but I do remember playing with a  G1 Transformers Dinobot (Swoop) in the truck.  All of the sudden I felt sick and as if I was going to throw up.  He quickly hit the brakes and pulled into the parking lot of a Burger King so I could get out of this truck before I made a mess!  He did it in a very loving way.  When I became old enough to drive I of course wanted a truck like my dad.  We went to McKinney Chevrolet in Belmont, NC to look at a few different S-10s.  After a test drive I settled on a maroon S-10.  I didn't quite emulate my dad when it came to washing it every weekend!  He though was more than happy to help me work on the truck on the weekends.  When high school graduation came around my parents bought me new tires and rims for my truck.  I think the only reason I chose such a gift is because my dad had recently done the same for his truck at the time.  I look back and think how silly I was to spend so much money on something that.  As you can probably tell my dad had a lot of influence on me.

My older brother got off the hook pretty easy since I got to take over all of the lawn duties when I became old enough.  We lived on a fairly decent size of land that had lots of trees and a big yard to mow.  As I got older my dad entered a "business agreement" with me and we started a little lawn care business.  It never really went anywhere, but it was one more thing that I got to spend time with my dad.  Earlier I mentioned his "deal" with my mom to take care of everything outside.  This meant he really didn't do much to help out in the house outside of unloading the dishwasher from time to time.  One is his favorite things each evening was to sit in his blue recliner in the corner of the living room with a bowl of sugar free Eskimo Pie ice cream while watching something on the television.  I can remember my mom fussing at him for leaving the bowl on the little table by his chair the next morning!  I only say that because the memory is so vivid and I think its funny.

On vacations to the beach or wherever one of the things the whole family enjoyed doing was playing mini-golf.  We had a Putt Putt Golf & Games in town that we would play from time to time, but I loved the courses at the beach with all of the crazy landscaping and gimmicks.  My dad was always a fan of golf and he tried to share that with me.  At first it was by playing skins whenever we played mini-golf.  We would usually play for 10 cent a whole or something like that.  Of course with him being the superior player I would end up owing him a few bucks at the end of 18 holes.  Do you think I had to pay my own dad when it was all over?  You betcha I did!  He didn't mind at all taking money from his own son!  One summer vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC he took me to the driving range at Cane Patch.  I had fun hitting balls on the range so he asked if I'd like to try my hand at the par 3 course.  I really didn't know what to expect so I said sure.  I had been with him before when he played golf.  I remember driving the golf cart off a little bridge.  I remember looking all around in the woods for my dad's ball only to find and kick over a large fire ant mound and having my foot engulfed in ants and ant bites.  Looking back why I ever agreed to play par 3 with him now I have no idea!  He let me tee off first on each hole.  At first it was kinda fun...but over time I grew bored.  I was getting tired and so was my swing.  I eventually discovered it was much easier for me to pick up the ball and throw it when he wasn't looking.  Yeah, I'm a what?!  Needless to say he never really pushed the whole golf thing on me after that weekend.

You know sitting here just thinking of my dad and how awesome of a man and dad he was I could probably go on and on.  If you are still reading this however I'll give you a break and wrap it up.  My dad was my best friend.  I miss him so much.  I can't tell you how many times I wanted to wake up and think that he would still be down stairs as a kid...or that I'd see him sitting in his chair when I'd go to my mom's house.  I know that he is in a better place and that my heavenly father is taking good care of him...but that doesn't mean that I don't miss him every single day.

Now that I'm a father I hope to be able to share the same teachings and experiences with my children.  I am truly blessed to be married to my wife Katie and to have a beautiful daughter in Olivia.  We have one more little girl on the way in a matter of days? weeks?  They are the joy of my life and I only wish that my dad had the chance to meet and get to know both my wife and his granddaughters. I know that he is up above looking down on me even as I type this.  I love you dad.  I miss you dad.

I hope everyone out there has a great father's day!  I know that I'll enjoy the day spending time with my family and thanking God for all of the blessings in my life.


  1. Happy Father's Day and Birthday Hops.
    Great post.
    Grace and Peace buddy.

  2. What a great post my friend! Happy Birthday to you sir.