The Sunday Sermonette – Father’s Day 2024.

When I first tread the boards at Gulfport Little Theater in the mid-70s, my dear parents came to the shows I was in. They never stayed for the after-show greetings in the lobby and were some of the first out the door, heading home.

As my theatrical endeavors increased, they continued to attend every show. Mom was always most complimentary, her eyes shining with pride. However, my father, the Marine, would simply nod and say nothing, a simple smile on his lips.

By the mid-1980s, I was performing at theaters all over the Coast. Once, I was in five shows back to back. My dear parents were always in attendance. I did so much theater that my name and picture were often in the Daily Herald and the Sunday Marquee, and I was frequently interviewed on WLOX.

I know that my Dad, being from the Old School, so to speak, didn’t quite understand my antics on the stage, being the quiet, reserved father that he was. If Mom prodded him, he would say a few words about the current show I was in and then go back to reading the evening newspaper. All of that changed, however, in 1987.

Christmas of that year, I was cast as mean, old Scrooge for the first time in Dickens’s classic story. It was a lavish production at the Biloxi Saenger Theater, and was a rousing success, with pack houses each night. When I took my stage bow, the audience went wild. I could not help but wonder what Dad would say. My answer came later in the New Year.

In January, Gulfport’s First Baptist Church embarked on a new church directory. When the date rolled around to have our picture taken, we dressed in our Sunday best, and off we went. The young man taking the pictures kept looking at me as if he recognized me. Then, his face lit up. “You were Scrooge,” he blurted out as he snapped pictures. “You were amazing! Talk like Scrooge for me.” And I did. “Scrooge” said something silly, and we all laughed, including Dad.

After we stopped laughing, Dad looked at the photographer. What he said shocked me. He told the young man how proud he was of me. I was overwhelmed with joy and surprise. At last, I had done something that had made my dear father proud that I was his son.

Come Father’s Day, each year, I look back on those days. I remember Dad’s slight smile, deep voice, and bright-brown eyes. He never said another word about my many theatrical endeavors after that time, but he didn’t have to. Because that one time, between hoots of laughter, my dear father said he was proud of me.

This Father’s Day, I fondly recall my father—a reserved man, often immersed in reading, sparing with compliments, and infrequent with expressions of pride. While he may not have voiced his feelings often, his affirmation on that day long ago spoke volumes about his love for me. For that, I am forever thankful. Dad, I miss you. But one day soon…

Happy Father’s Day to all my Facebook fathers.

Ponder this and go forth.