A man kneeling, preening his garden. Dark brown hair ruffling in the warm summer breeze. He's home from a long day's work. Still in his blue work uniform, tired from a lifetime of jobs not conducive to his greatness. Worn, rugged hands so gently care for the new babes of his Eden.
As I view this man, the story of his life unfolds in the characteristics of his being; I see the school boy in the twinkle of his brown eyes, his naval endeavors in the tattoo engraved on his right forearm. I see the chapters of marriage in his gold, misshapen wedding band, proudly shinning in the August sun. The many sleepless nights of praying for God to protect and use his children in the permanent furrow of his brow. I see the prominent laugh lines etched by the love of his grandchildren, and the decades of laboring to provide the best for the ones he loves is displayed as medals of honor about his person. I see a happy and fulfilled and truly loved man. He thinks not of the sacrifices but of the radiant joy on the faces he's lived for. This man will forever be surrounded by the fruits of his labor.
He turns, his gentle voice permeating the air, "Hey!" His wife of 41 years had been taking in the sight of the love of her life doing what he loves. Her face alight with a smile, tells him, "I love you," and walks back inside. Her mind flooding with memories, she sits in her favorite chair and allows the past to wash over her.
They're younger now, hands, face, eyes not as tired and worn. The house filled with children's contagious laughter. Her husband appears, making an attempt to round up the youngest and most beautiful, a girl. She runs to give him a hug and says her good night's, he replies, " I love you too, you're the greatest." She smiles and retaliates, "No, you're the greatest!" They debate for what seems like an hour, then mom dramatically says, "Go to bed!!" The father and daughter share a sly grin and kiss each other good night.
Another memory surfaces, newly married, circumstances were difficult here. Funds were scarce, struggling to make ends meet, she worried about her partner and life. His confident, loving voice always reassured her, "We're going to be OK."
This man is wise, honorable and devoted to his family and his God. He may not be the picture of perfection, but he's made the individuals who matter extremely proud. The person of whom I speak is Teddy Franklin McCollam, 67, my incredible father and friend. Everything from his creased brow to his tired, well trodden feet create a story that is his life. Though others may not recognize, my father is one of greatness. He has prayed through the tough times and rejoiced in the good. My father is a content and satisfied man; my father is my hero!