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Gentle Giant, Remembering Dad

June 17, 2012 1 Comment

My dad was well over 6 feet tall and 250 pounds. So my memories of him were always as a gentle giant towering over me. I was always enthralled with how he could easily scoop me up and carry me on his shoulders. My time with my dad was way too short. When he died on February 13th 1976, I was just 11 years old. My world would never be the same.

WWII

Jack McDaniel Stallings was born in 1922 in Atlanta Georgia. He would grow up during the depression in the Grant Park area of downtown Atlanta. He was the third out of five children. (3 brothers and one sister).

My dad was far from perfect. Rumor has it that around age 16 or 17 a teacher told my dad to join the army before he wound up in jail. Dad quit school and joined the army.

He served two years and was stationed in the Panama Canal zone when he received his discharge papers; however, before the date of discharge came, a little conflict known as WWII broke out and his discharge was revoked. Needless to say Dad was not real thrilled. While in New Orleans waiting transfer to Northern Africa (I think? My dad served under General Patton in the Third Army) my dad went AWOL and headed home to Atlanta. The story goes that the Atlanta PD picked him up and my Aunt Trudie (the oldest) had to go bail him out. She made sure he was on the next train back to New Orleans. Dad would serve well through the end of the war.

Double Date

Soon after the war, dad met my mom. They met on a double date. The funny thing is, my mom was not my dad’s date, but his best friend Guy. (Guy and my dad remained friends and he was my dad’s best man at the wedding). Mod and Dad were married in 1949.

Heart of a Servant

Despite the supposed rebellious nature of my dad and his willingness to go AWOL, my dad was one of the most giving men I have ever known. He taught me the true meaning of what it is to be a servant. It seemed like most weekends (and many week days) my dad was helping someone install an appliance, repair a home, paint something, fix a car etc. Even though I would get in the way, I was often in tow.  (Somehow I missed out on the handyman gene). One time we even helped our housekeeper’s husband get a possum out of a tree.

My dad also served as a deacon and an elder at our church. Each Sunday he would stand out in the vestibule until long after the service had started to make sure anyone arriving late felt welcomed. Once he had a heart procedure earlier in the week that made it difficult for him to stand for very long. So he cleared off the large wooden table in the vestibule and sat on it so he could still perform his self assigned welcoming duties.

Dad had an incredible sense of humor and he loved to spin a tall tale. If you were around very long he would find a way to get you to laugh (I am pretty sure I inherited this gene). He would use his tongue to pop out his false teeth to scare little kids, an act that thrilled my mom.

Passions & Values

Dad was also passionate about family. Just about every Sunday we would go see my grandmother (My mom’s mom). I remember asking, “Why did we have to go see her every week?” He responded that she would not be with us much longer. He was right about my Grandmother and little did I know that his statement also applied to him.

Dad in grained in me “yes sir, yes mam.” Ladies and elders always go first. Opening doors for the ladies is a must. I am sure that my dad was not perfect in his thoughts when it came to other races, but he taught me to treat everyone with respect and to be willing to lend a helping hand to all.

That Night

Several times before my dad passed he would get sick late at night and we would make a trip to the emergency room. I will never forget the night he died. We had all just gone to bed. I could hear my mom and dad’s conversation very clearly from across the hall. My mom asked my dad how he was feeling, and he responded that he felt fine. My mom said, “Good, I do not want any of that late night foolishness.” My dad then made a sound like he was snoring and he was gone. My friend’s dad from across the street tried CPR until he almost passed out. But God had called him home.

Hope

I hope I can at least be half the man my dad was. Even though he has been gone a long time now, I still can see him and the events we had together as clear as if they were yesterday. I wish he could have known my wife and his grandkids.

I still miss you dad. See you again one day.

Happy Fathers Day!

Love Jon

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Filed in: Life

About the Author:

I am enthusiastic about helping others discover their purpose and grow into a deeper relationship with Jesus. It is great to see their eyes light up at their “Ah Ha!” moment when they discover they were created for something more. My hope is that this blog will help encourage and inspire you along your way. Join the conversation and take the time to share with me your own story.

I have been married to my beautiful wife Janice for over 25 years. We currently live in Stockbridge Georgia with two of our children Matt and Victoria. Our oldest Chris has left the nest. Of course we cannot forget about our dog Taffy.