My father worked hard, but he liked to have fun.

Some of the games he played with me, he also played with his grandchildren.

He would wave his hands around and chuckle, “Bore a hole, bore a hole,” and then he would swoop down for a quick tickle and say “right into Carolyn (or whoever he was playing with).” Babies, toddlers and watching adults would laugh.

He would set children on his foot and bounce them up and down and say, “Ride the horsy.”

He took me for rides in his wheelbarrow.

He let me jump into his pile of freshly raked leaves and never complained that he had to rake them back up.

He made a swing for me and hung it on the pecan tree. He pushed me so high I felt like I was flying.

When I expressed an interest in basketball, he made a basketball goal for me and attached it to the other pecan tree. My friend, Lynn and I shot baskets, using the garbage can as our free throw line.

Daddy helped me learn to ride a bike. When I was having trouble getting the hang of it, he sat down on the bathroom floor with me and rolled a quarter across the floor.

He said, ”Did you see that? As long as it kept moving, it stayed up. When it stopped moving, it fell over. That’s the way riding a bike works.”

He added, “That’s the way life works too. If you keep going, you stay up. But if you give up and stop, you will fall.”

Daddy loved to play interactive games. Unlike today, people in that time enjoyed sharing fun with each other. We did not play video games. We played games where our human connection was as important or more important than the game itself.

My parents and my brother set up the card table and played the card game, Canasta. When I was too little to play, Daddy let me sit on his lap and “help him” play his hand.

Every time he took “the pile,” he would laugh with glee and say, “OK, Carolyn, let’s go to the kitchen table and sort these out.” Once there, he would say, “Because you helped me, we are winning!” He had the wonderful ability to share any victories.

Daddy taught me to play checkers. He said checkers was a whole lot like life. You start one place, but your goal is to get to the other side.

He told me to always think three moves ahead, both for myself and my opponent. Know what he might do and be ready with your play.

He also taught me how to be willing to give up one piece if it was going to put me in a position to take three pieces.

He said, “It’s not just about the here and now. Know where you want to go. Know what you hope to get and plan for it. When it is time, don’t hesitate. Do it!”

While Daddy enjoyed winning, he never liked my sad face when he had won all the checkers and I had none left. He let that soak in for awhile. He observed, “It does not feel very good to have nothing while others have everything, does it.”

Almost in tears, I agreed. I thought what was coming was a lecture on how I could be a better player and maybe win next time. But that was not the life lesson he had in mind.

“Set them up again. I am going to teach you another way to play. This way to play Checkers is called Give Away!”

In Give Away, the goal is to give away all your checkers. Make moves that allow the other person to “jump you” and let them have your checkers. You have to think totally different from the regular game of Checkers. Initially I was not sure I liked it. It felt strange to deliberately give up my pieces.

But eventually I began to like it. It felt good to give. Daddy told me Give Away was the best way to live life. The goal is to have little or nothing left to give on earth so you will not have a lot of heavy baggage when it is time to go to Heaven. Daddy lived his life that way. He was always looking for ways to give.

By the time he was in bed in a nursing home, he had little left to give, but he gave all of what he had … smiles, hugs, kisses, gratitude … he won.

With the advent of television, a whole new world of games opened up to Daddy. The game shows were a family affair. We all played. Daddy, the bookkeeper, nailed The Price is Right. He could survey the most obscure object and guess its price right on the money.

But his favorite show, right up to the end of his life, was “Wheel of Fortune.” As Vanna White turned each letter, we would all guess wildly. But Daddy often simply studied the board and waited until he spoke. And he was usually the first to figure it out.

He told me “Too often in life, people get a little bit of information and think they know it all. You need to listen and see each part of a thing before you try to make sense of it.”

Later in life, when I was having a hard time personally, he said, “OK, what things do you know? Look at all of them. Put them in order.”

I did that. There were still too many unknowns for me to even guess. I asked my father if he was going to be like Vanna White and turn over a few more things for me to see.”

He shook his head and said, “No, but we can ask God together if He will do that for you. Just remember He shows you just one thing at a time and you trust Him for what and when He will show you the next one.”

Today is Father’s Day 2020. I have not completed my series on memories of my father. There will be more to come.

But for now I think I might go swing, toss a basketball around, or look at what things I can give away. And if I find someone along the way, who will play with me, we can do it in memory of my Daddy!

About carolynpriesterjones

Follower of Jesus, Seeker of Truth, Commentator on Life, Light Bearer, Water Carrier, one of God's Creations still under construction

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