I grew up in Chatham Villa, a small subdivision in Garden City, Georgia. The homes were so close together that I could look out my bedroom window and see what our next-door neighbors were watching on TV.
I knew we had “arrived” and were well-to-do when my parents installed central air conditioning in our home. I also remember that there was a distinct pecking order when it came to dinnertime, especially on fried chicken night. My mom and dad got the chicken breasts, my older brother and sister each got the wings and thighs, and my younger sister and I were left with our choice of the legs and other undescribed pieces that we thought were the bomb.
My siblings and I never saw the challenges my parents faced; we just knew that, on the first day of each school year, we all received new clothes and shoes. My dad worked for an electric company in Savannah, so when we saw Captain Sandy, the TV weatherman, forecast rainstorms, we knew we were going to William’s Seafood for Sunday supper. Storms meant downed powerlines, which translated to overtime for days at a time.
I know we all have stories we can share, especially when we get together with family or close friends. For me, it seems like just yesterday that we were carefree teenagers, but now we find ourselves retiring after 30 to 40 years of employment.
As I sit here this Sunday evening, watching the sunset, I ask myself: Have I forgotten who I am and where I came from? The answer for me is reflected in my two daughters.
I look at my younger daughter Annie and see all she has achieved despite challenges and tragedy that would have shattered most young girls. Annie lived through the divorce of her parents like a fighter. And at just 19 she dealt with the tragedy of losing her older sister Abbie in the horrific car accident on I-16. Despite these events, Annie never lost her sense of self and all the good things in this world. She attended college and aspired to become a physician’s assistant. She just finished her last class and has started her clinical rotations. She will be afforded a lifestyle that I would have never imagined at her age, yet she is humble and generous and a God-loving young woman. I hold my breath as I see her develop, soon to become a wife and, I hope, a mom in due time. As her dad, I hope that in some way I played a role in her work ethic and love for life.
Then there is my beloved Abbie, who left such a big gift to this world during her short 21 years with us. Abbie was a consummate athlete and discipled herself and her actions to earn whatever goals she was aiming to achieve. She wanted a higher level of education and got into nursing school, receiving her degree posthumously. She had a thirst for knowledge and a love for people in her heart. The scholarships that the Abbie DeLoach Foundation gives each year embody Abbie’s spirit and encourage students to live an inspired life, supporting student athletes, nurses and missions abroad.
I hope that, as parents, we never forget where we came from, or the lessons we learned during our travels in life. I hope that we, in turn, can continue to share our insights, successes and failures with our children, just as our parents did for us.