My friends called Daddy "The Man" long before "You da man!" ever became a popular catch phrase.
When it came to law enforcement, Daddy was a natural. Love for his work ran through his veins thicker than blood ever could. When I was born, Daddy worked as a license examiner with the Georgia State Patrol. He became a patrolman a few years later and, in 1968, graduated from the FBI Academy in Washington, D.C. When he returned to Georgia, he took a job with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, first as a Special Investigator and later in the GCIC (Georgia Crime Information Center).
In the early 1970's, when Jimmy Carter was Governor of our great state, the GCIC obtained a new administrator. Something about the administrator and Daddy didn't quite gel, so working with him was an exercise in faith. When the boss decided that Daddy should take a transfer from our hometown of Sylvania (where Daddy had been stationed for nearly twenty years) to the remote town of Alma, the true test of Daddy's faith began.
Not wanting the transfer had nothing to do with lack of respect for authority. My mother had been ill for several years and was under the constant care of physicians; her doctors were adamant that she not move from the area. Also, my parents did not want to uproot my brother and me. Given these two factors, Daddy refused the transfer.
The boss was not pleased. In what could only be a power play, he sent my father "on the road" for an "undetermined" amount of time. I remember Daddy standing in the middle of our solid knotty-pine kitchen, telling Mama that he would only be home once every three weeks or so. "If he had poured hot water over me, it couldn't have been any more of a shock," he said. And so he packed his bags and began "living" in State Patrol offices.
When Daddy came home for a day or two, I would run through the house and into his arms. Daddy's hugs were desired bear hugs, in spite of the fact that the handle of his gun dug painfully into my flesh. Over Mama's delicious, home-style dinner, we would listen attentively as he told us of his travels, and how much he missed us — especially at night.
"I don't know why Mr. B has chosen to do this," he said. "But every morning and every night I read the twenty-seventh Psalm. It gives me the courage and strength to get through this. And I know that one day God will bless me and change this man's heart."
From that day on, I read twenty-seventh Psalm on a daily basis, allowing it to penetrate my heart and mind. I believed the words, even though I saw no evidence of the promises found there.
One afternoon, after a year had gone by, Mama was outside in the yard. Having just killed a snake with her shovel (an act she later would later call prophetic) she was still excited when she ran in to answer the ringing telephone.
"I just got the word," Daddy said from the other end. "I'm coming home! This time for good."
Daddy was right. I had learned a lesson that I would never forget.
P.S. Eva Marie Everson's father went "home" to eternity four years ago.
© Eva Marie Everson, reprinted by permission.
For the latest inspirational work by Eva Marie Everson, visit her website at EvaMarieEverson.com.