It’s always been hard to buy a shirt for my dad. Not because he’s persnickety about style or fabric or colors, but because he’s always been pretty picky about the size of the front pocket. Let me explain.
My dad is amazing. I’ll just shoot the Bob Walker 411 your way. He was born and raised in Macon, Georgia. His dad died of a heart attack when he (my dad) was twelve years old. He went right to work as soon as he was old enough to be hired somewhere. He graduated from Sidney Lanier High School and headed to Georgia Tech. After graduating from Tech, he headed into the Marine Corps. A stint of active duty in Japan was followed by a year in Beaufort, South Carolina, where he met my mom. (Twenty years of Marine Corps Reserves service followed that.) After Beaufort, he married my mom and moved to Dublin, Georgia. With an entrepreneurial proclivity, he started and sold multiple businesses, all the while slowly building self-storage warehouse facilities with his own hands. He did a couple rounds of being mayor of Dublin, and the city is certainly better for it. He’s a man of integrity, character, and faith.
Those are the stats. But here’s what’s most important to my mom, my sister, my brother, and me. He said “no thanks” to a number of lucrative career opportunities and promising political avenues that would have required traveling and/or moving. Instead, he chose to have himself in a position to be in deep with his family. I can’t remember a basketball game, a cheerleading event, a gymnastics event, or any award ceremony where Dad wasn’t present. As a result, he has three adult kids, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren who would quickly take down anyone who might say a negative word about “Pop.” Not that anyone would be able to think of anything negative to say…
So, back to the “buying him a shirt” thing. You see, the front pocket, in his pre-iPhone years, needed to be wide enough to hold his pen, his mechanical pencil, and his little spiral notebook. The notebook contained his kids’ ever-changing phone numbers. It also contained, during our college years, our class schedules. Later, it contained our general work schedules and numbers. He never kept up with that stuff in order to check up on us. It was all about interest. He was, and continues to be, interested in what we’re doing and what we’re interested in. He made sure he always knew how to be engaged with, and how to talk intelligently about, topics that were important to his kids, regardless of age and stage of life. How cool is that?
The pocket doesn’t have to be quite as wide these days, since the 76-year-old who has never let technology get ahead of him, now carries the sleekest, coolest iPhone and knows more about using it than any twenty-something.
But still, I always carefully check out the front pocket when buying my daddy a shirt. And, every time, I smile and appreciate him all over again.