A Tribute To – My Hero

My Dad, My Hero…

All little boys have heros, and mine is still “doing life” with me, and I praise God for that.

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be just like my dad. As a little boy I had two heroes, one real – my dad, and one from TV – Roy Rogers – the hero of all cowboys. Looking back, I was probably drawn to this cowboy because we shared the same first name. But this cowboy seemingly had it all – the best looking horse, cool guns, cool hat, pretty wife, funny friends, and boy could he throw the best TV punch ever!

7:30 am and 5:30 pm – Hero Times

7:30 am – Roy Rogers weekday mornings on channel 13. I can vividly remember waking up and hurrying my get-ready-for-school routine to not miss the start of each episode. I wanted to be like him.

5:30 pm – “Dad’s home,” I used to yell as the back door slammed shut. I wanted to be JUST like him.

Our red brick home would shudder when the back screen door slammed shut. The sound of the slamming door was especially loud when one man came through its threshold–my dad. I can recall, as a little boy, playing in my room and hearing that door send a series of quakes that rippled through the walls and rattled the windows. It was my dad’s signature and signal that a day of work was completed and THE man was now home.

I would yell, “Dad’s home!” and then dash through the hall and kitchen to greet him with a well-deserved hug. I would then follow him like a little puppy as he made his way through our home. Everything about him signaled he was a “real man” — from his rich Corinthian leather brief case to the Vitalis hair tonic and Old Spice after-shave.

My dad is a unique blend of no-nonsense and discipline with a subtle but witty sense of humor. He is a quiet and private man to those on the outside. His countenance commands respect. I recall the easy chair that used to carry the shape of his exhausted form. It was there, as he was reading the evening paper, that I usually planned my assault on him. I’m certain I nearly pestered him to death on more than one occasion while asking my weary dad to play ball. And play ball he did. Night after night, my hero taught me how to throw a curve, a perfect spiral, and a topspin backhand. He used to claim that he could slice a tennis ball with so much backspin that it would bounce backwards from my side of the court back to his – he was right. As a boy I always loved to hear him laugh. Somehow it told me everything was secure.

When I was ten or so, we went to east Texas hunting and it was there on the side of the mountain that he gave me THE talk. I can remember begging for any animal interruption to end the awkward talk. No such luck, THE talk was the purpose of our trip.

I watched him look after the needs of his mother–he used to visit his mom regularly and called her even more. He modeled what it meant to “honor one’s parents.” His love for his brothers showed me how to love my sister.

From him I learned about integrity, trust, and how to be a man of my word. His example taught me the importance of perseverance, for he has stuck with his job for nearly 36 years. He created in me an indelible imprint of sinking roots down deep–and living with the same people with whom he did business.

When I was in high school, I won the magazine sales contest because I introduced myself as Roy Hooker’s son. That was good enough for an instant sale for nearly 100 percent of my “customers.” My dad had helped so many people that being his son gave me immeasurable credibility. (For a while I actually thought I was a great salesman!)

He gave me imperishable memories instead of just things: Memories of little league football (he was an assistant coach to the meanest coach in the world – Coach Hart); fishing trips where he netted my fish, so small they went through the holes in the net; and a “clipped” collection of all the basketball scores from my games, of which he never missed one (and sometimes got a warning from the referee to settle down). There are memories of watching him through the impeccably clean window of our station wagon delivering toys to families not as fortunate as us at Christmas. Memories of the feel of his whiskers when he wrestled with me on the floor of the living room, and memories of him whispering to me, a shy, somewhat awkward boy, to be bold in life. And finally, memories of snuggling close to him as we watched the game of the week.

As an impressionable young boy, my radar caught more of his life than he will ever know. He was the model and hero I needed during some perilous teenage years–and you know what, he still is. He taught me the importance of hard work and completing a task. I learned about lasting commitment from him–I never feared my parents would divorce. My dad was absolutely committed to my mom. I felt secure and protected. His love for my mom taught me how to love my wife.

But most importantly he taught me (and continues to teach me) about character. He does what is right, even when no one is looking. I never heard him talk about cheating on taxes–he paid them and didn’t grumble. His integrity is impeccable. I never heard him lie and his eyes always demanded the same truth in return. This mental snapshot of his character still fuels and energizes my life today.

Memories of you, Dad:

Following you around our backyard when I was little.

Swinging between you and Mom when we were on a walk.

Telling us silly stories about the characters from your childhood in Leesville.

Smokey the Bear living in every fire tower, so you said!

Math tutoring secessions – I still shudder.

The search all over Disney for Struddel.

Boat trips each summer.

Trying to teach me to swim, ride a bicycle and drive!

Watching the Saints and LSU games.

Working hard and achieving so much.

Using the salt and pepper and ketchup bottles to demonstrate football moves.

The tears in your eyes when you sing The Old Rugged Cross.

Our long talks about religion and life.

The glimmer in your eyes when you are setting one of us up for a debate.

Your love for my wife and your grandkids.

Loving hugs.

Believing that I would be successful in whatever I chose to do.

Being proud of our achievements.

Reliable and always ready with advice when needed.

Our talk before my wedding.

Reading with your grandchildren.

Buying an X Box for your home for your grandkids.

Supporting us through difficult times.

Talking on the phone.

Riding Harleys together.

C. S. Lewis once said that the virtue of courage is a prerequisite for the practice of all other virtues, because otherwise one is virtuous only when virtue has no cost. There are times when something needs to be done, and yet we know that if we step up and do this needful thing, we will pay a heavy personal price. Courage is the virtue that makes us willing to pay that price; cowardice makes us say, “The price is too high; I will not pay it.”

Dad, you never said the price is too high when it came to raising us. My list is incomplete, but my heart is full of love and appreciation for you. You dad, are my hero and I love you.

“Dad’s home!” I can still hear the door slam and the house quake. I want to be just like you…


5 responses to this post.

  1. Very touching.

  2. Very touching.

  3. OK, I’m crying, thanks bro! This is by far the greatest tribute I have ever read to anyone. I hope you share this with him. What a model to emulate! You are blessed to have grown up this way. As I read, I was reminded of the similar memories of my Dad, who still is my hero today. I’m also seeing the treasured memory as simple as swinging between your mom and dad, as things we do with my son today that I hope he will cherish. Thanks Roy for reminding us how special our folks really are. You are a blessing to me.–>

  4. Posted by Worley zoo on August 6, 2006 at 4:33 PM

    Thank the Lord that heroes run in our family, for your dad’s brother – my dad – was another example of a true hero. How well spoken, or typed! Unfortunately treasured memories are all that we have now, so take a moment to make a new one or remember an old one every day. All of you were a hero to him in your own way. Love to all of the family!
    Cousin Terri

  5. Terri,

    Your dad (my uncle) is a hero to me. I say “is” because despite the fact the God wanted him home, his influence on my life plays out everyday. I miss uncle Jim with all of my heart, but his legacy lives in my life and so many others. You and Lisa were so lucky to call him dad, and I was fortunate to call him uncle.

    Lord, please hug Terri with your big-daddy arms right now and give her your peace and comfort. And God? Has uncle Jim told you the story about whippin his cousin? Ask him, you’ll laugh for hours…amen.–>

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