This picture was always a family favorite although looking at our expressions I have to wonder if it was truly a happy moment! I'm the unhappy 11 year old (it had been a long summer and my mother had tried my endurance). My little brother is thinking "I could take this thing apart so quickly and put it back together, too". My sister, well, she's just being sweet like she always was and still is. I think Daddy was not too patiently coaching my mother on how to use his camera!
But beyond our expressions, I know that this was a happy time for my father. What this picture represents is priceless. He was on leave; we were between assignments in Alaska and California and spending time visiting family. He was in his beloved Mississippi. Daddy loved my mother's home town as much as he loved his and he was happy to be there visiting. He dreamed of someday being a farmer and owning a radio station; sadly, he never realized either dream. He loved trains, planes and engines. He happily flew big transport planes for the US Air Force for five years, so he did achieve that dream.
He had his faults. He was impatient, quick tempered, and quick to speak exactly what he thought. We towed the line, always. But he made sure we went to church on Sunday and he faithfully placed a check in the offering plate every time it passed. He never hesitated to help someone out if he felt they genuinely needed help. He loved Gospel music and Big Band, too. He was a shrewd money manager and made good investment choices while managing the one-income family budget. We never lacked for anything we needed. If he bought a tractor or some farm land to plant a crop it was because he thought it a good investment. And, he cooked one good steak or hamburger on the grill.
So, fathers remember that today you are creating memories and your legacy with your children. Someday years from now they will look at a faded, overexposed picture and remember you. You have your faults, but there are your strengths that they will remember and take with them through their lives. And, it is okay to live your dream!