SURRATT: My perspective on Father’s Day

Published 4:00 am Friday, June 17, 2022

For some columnists, Father’s Day is an easy column to write.

You talk about the role of fathers in the family and how they can be a big influence on their children, especially their sons.

Sometimes you get personal, and I usually do. I know that seems to be a bit self-serving and lazy but for me, Father’s Day is not so much about me being a parent as remembering my father and how he affected my life.

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I must admit it took me a while to really get to know dad. He worked as a salesman for an oilfield supply company and his territory was in the area known as “the oil patch,” which covered Louisiana, South Mississippi, Texas (he had East Texas) and Arkansas. He was on the road a lot, so I usually didn’t see him until the weekends. When I was older, I would go with him on his calls.

But his travels never hindered him from being involved in our lives, whether it was through telephone calls when he was on the road or attending school open houses and parent-teacher nights when he was in town. My brother and I played sports and if he was able, Dad would be at the games. I remember a running in a track meet in Houma, La., and looking into the stands and seeing dad there; he took time off from his calls to come to watch me.

My parents always treated our friends as family and pretty much had an open-door policy when our friends came over. Dad took that a bit further, serving as a surrogate father to two of my friends who did not have fathers at home.

Dad was a country boy who grew up during the Depression and much of his philosophy came from that period, but it was just as relevant in the 60s when I was growing up as it was back in his time. At the time, being full of youthful intelligence and the optimism that I knew it all, I brushed off most of his advice and counsel as “that’s just the old man,” but like Mark Twain, as I got older I realized how intelligent he was.

It’s been 30 years since Dad died, and I still miss him very much. I miss that wisdom, his counsel, his common sense. He was a humble and simple man who enjoyed fishing and watching sports, especially football; a sport in which he was a star player in high school and junior college and although he wouldn’t come out and say it, I truly believe he was an LSU fan.

I hope that in some way I’ve been able to emulate him and like most sons, I hope that I’ve made him proud of me. My one regret is that I never told him “I love you” near enough.

So, as I wrote in my Mother’s Day column, if your father is still around go visit him. If you can’t visit him call him. I wish I could call mine.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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