By Jamie Hammack
I’m going to make this about my dad. I could write something about dads in general, or what it’s like being a father, but that wouldn’t be as genuine. I cannot write about what it’s like to be a father because I’m not one. And I don’t wish to write about dads in general because, well, not all dads are the same. So I’m going to stick with what I know. My own father.
My father was incredible. I would guess just about every kid would say that about their father but it’s true. His name was Jack and he was born in 1934 in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was the first born of Jim and Mary Hammack. His father was 60. His mother was 20. Don’t judge. It was different times. My dad grew up on a farm in Greenwood, Louisiana where he worked the fields full of cotton, peas, corn, and greens. There were cattle, horses and hogs to tend to and he welcomed the help when his brother and two sisters came into this world. The work formed him as a man.
My dad worked hard his entire life. Not just in his job, but at being a good man and a father. Almost everything he did was for my sister and myself. Life didn’t always treat him kind, but he always trudged forward. He did so to show us how to pick ourselves up, not have a pity party and keep moving forward. When he was 60 years old life knocked him down. Jobs for a man his age are hard to find. He didn’t think twice. He picked himself up and went back to being a Roughneck on drilling rigs. A job he held in his twenties. It’s an incredibly hard and dangerous job. He did it to provide. Without knowing it he was teaching us what must be done to take care of a family.
Sports were a big part of our lives growing up. I’m not making this up, except for a couple of games and practices when he was hospitalized for a heart attack, my father attended every baseball, football and basketball game and practice I ever had. Every one of them. Rain or shine there he was. The lone parent in the stands at a summer two a day football practice in the Gulf Coast Texas heat. He was there for baseball practice and games in the rain showers. He was there to support me. Always telling me, “No matter what you do, do your best.” He showed me how a father can have a complete love for his child. Always there. Always imparting wisdom.
As the years went by and he grew older his health began to change. My sister and I did what we could to be there for him whenever we could. She pulled the heavy lifting in looking out for him day to day as I moved around Texas and Louisiana in the oilfields and then radio. He and I would talk on the phone every day when I got off work. I miss those calls.
In February of 2015, my dad entered the hospital in Shreveport. Often I travelled from Dallas two or three times a week to help look after him as he slowly began to change from the gregarious and larger than life man he was, into a frail man, but one that could still fill you full of hope with an occasional smile through the pain that we all knew he had. In the next 7 months he only left the hospital once before he quietly passed away. On that August night my sister and our mother were there with me holding his hands as a preacher sang Amazing Grace. He slipped from this world to his reward knowing he had done what he needed to do. He provided. He taught us how to live right. He loved us. He was a father.
If you have a father that is still alive do yourself a favor. Spend all the time you can with him because when he is gone, that’s it. You won’t ever feel his touch. His warmth. The familiar smell from a hug is gone forever. His smile and kiss fades and all you have left are memories. Make any amends that need be made and tell him you love him. There is nothing like your daddy. Cherish him. He cherishes you.
Happy Fathers Day, old man. I miss you.