Fathers are a fact… good dads are rare. I had both. This is my tribute post. To the one who paved the way for me to become the man I am today. Rest in peace dad… you did good. Proud to be your son.
Dads story begins on May 20th, 1938…. and ended March 1st, 2017
My dad was a remarkable man- if you knew him you at least sensed there was more to his story than you could see…and… there really was.
Dad was known for his slowly articulated oral adventures 🙂 – he could talk at great length about the nature of the human body and the spiritual soul – or the rigors of climbing Longs peak in Colorado… he drove every kind of car or truck and came home with a different vehicle 2 or 3 times some years. He was motorcycle man who owned 2 BMW’s – a couple of Honda Gold Wings and full dress Harley Davidson before he retired from riding.
He loved sports and the outdoors, he was a man of great faith and great integrity – He kept his word. Period.
His work ethic was unmatched – he worked dawn to dusk and then came home & cleaned the house or garage or a car… 🙂
His greatest loves beyond his Faith & “Mimi” (who he adored for over 60 years ) were;
His two boys –
Strong black Coffee
Cars & motorcycles
the Blue Ridge Parkway –
Working outside – having a project to start
Mountains and the men who explored them
His neighbors and his few but loyal life long friendships
A few quotes about my dad
“The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.” Solomon
- “He was born with the bark on” (Sackett proverb 🙂
– “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” Theodore Hesburgh
“You gotta grab a root and growl son!” – Denny Fredrick (Clyde – Sackett / June)
Louis L’Amour quote describes him well…
“This-this was what made life: a moment of quiet, the water falling in the fountain, the girl’s voice. . . a moment of captured beauty. Those who are truly wise will never permit such moments to escape.”
“We were together. I forget the rest”. – Walt Whitman
He lived at least four lives that I know of…
1 – His early years, “Ferdinand” (the bull – a nickname given by his favorite uncle – Vernon Mathias) was a humble, honest, hometown boy – he became a 4 sport letterman and athletic star in Peru IN / a jock with a beautiful young woman he discovered in the Peru high school marching band that he started dating early in HS. Dad was the clean cut – “happy days” all-American kid – responsible and handsome – he worked to pay his way – no favors and no handouts – he chose a career in Chiropractic after struggling with shin splints in his sports endeavors – married and fearless he went to St Louis to find his fortune – Mimi in tow.
2 – Dr G L Mathias of Tuscola, IL was an ambitious – successful businessman, family man and leader. Developing and mentoring doctors and/or disciples wherever he could. A man of deep faith he dedicated his life to serving God and opened his home and heart to Gods people generously for over two decades. Raising his two boys along side Europeans, African missionaries and an Indian holy man. He brought in countless exiles to live with us – single men and women, even down on their luck families who were broken and battered by life – needing a home and safe place to recover. We always had 2 or 3 or 5 people living in our home – some for years at a time.
3 – Retired Doc Mathias of Fancy Gap, VA. was a whole “nuther smoke” bringing his widowed father in to live with them on the mountain, as he and Mimi retired to their beloved Blue Ridge Parkway. There he was a ‘more’ laid back – grandfather of six with extra time to golf and enjoy the views. But he couldn’t stop working entirely – helping with a local winery / managing a golf course and of course remodeling his home with infinite number of “projects”. He managed to continue treating dozens of patients for “free” in his basement and had the closest cut grass and bushes in the county. He made numerous medical mission trips to impoverished orphanages in Romania, his beloved Mimi by his side. Dad was always moving- always doing – retirement wasn’t a reality for him. This season of dad’s life is when we simply began to refer to him as ‘Wooley’ – christened so by his first grandson… David ‘wooley buggar’ Mathias.
4 – Wooley and Mimi decided to relocate after some health scares and they showed up in Spring Hill TN about 11 years ago. Leaving their idyllic mountain home in VA, they moved to Tennessee to live with me and my family of five 🙂 Driven closer by health concerns and a renewed desire to be involved with Christian ministry & a faith community – “woooley” and “Mimi” became a “thing” much bigger than they knew. Despite his age and fading health – Woolley was constantly working around the garage or the neighbors, a friend to every family in our Benevento cul-de-sac –
If you did’t know him… Dad loved everyone – bought gifts for the city sanitation guys and local landscape migrant workers every year – he noticed the guys in the background and cared for the sick and hurting for free until the last year or two. He was a father to “many” and a mentor to more! His home was open to any who needed to talk or pray – and he greeted every visitor at church with a warm smile and hug. He was a gentle soul with love to share for so many. Just look around you… we gathered here are but a small fraction of the lives he and Mimi touched – each in a very unique and special way.
So, depending on when you met my dad – how you knew him… you could have entirely different ideas of who he was… how he lived, what he stood for. It is true that he finished his life a better man – a kinder & gentler man than when he began. He understood pain and suffering – sorrow and sadness more than most. He knew of humility and loss, recognizing the world was broken – and he was ready to go to a place where life was as it should be… yet he chose to believe the best about people and gave to anyone who had a need. He treasured loyalty and faithfulness above all else.
In his last months he fought through the cloud of dementia and mental confusion – always searching for a way to escape – his faithful “Gracie Anne” by his side – He never forgot the faces of his family and friends – and loved with a “fierce” and “stubborn” love that is all but extinct today.
Through it all, my dad was loyal & strong. He could be quite stubborn – intensely focused – thick headed (which means always right)- could be mite controlling and often was overly demanding of himself and others – but he was always gracious and gentle when given time to reflect – dad had a genuine heart and wanted to serve in the simple and unseen ways. Setting up chairs, sweeping the floors… holding the door.
He loved to eat out with Mimi on their frequent date nights – loved to see his grand-kids and have a glass of wine with the neighbors – he loved wood fires at night – enjoyed listening to Rich Mullins & James Taylor. He owned every James Bond, loved John Wayne, and adored the days and ways of Andy Griffith. He loved reading his bible, praying for other people – and listening to the DAB with father Brian. He made it to Israel, Italy, Switzerland, France, Romania, Canada and Alaska – journeys all of the heart and then took our entire family on an epic Road-trip to Canada in 2010 to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. His love of travel and beauty was passed on to every member of our family… from the oldest to the youngest. That legacy lives on here at Road Trip parenting.
Dad was the genuine deal… the authentic article, nothing fake or artificial about him. He lived with a different code. He took commitment seriously. He was chivalrous and bold, courageous and firm at a time when men were supposed to be quiet and reserved – he cherished our mom as the queen of our home and his life. He set the marriage bar very high… showing us boys how to faithfully love and endure through the good and the bad.
He loved his native Indiana and always thought of himself as a Hoosier – a simple man of plain tastes he preferred jeans jackets and work boots to a coat and tie. He longed for the crisp mountain air of Estes Park to the warm breezes off of Mt Pisgah’s heights – dad was a lover of American history & the natural beauty of Gods exquisite creation.
His favorite passages of scripture were in the Psalms – 23 and 139. He read and re-read the scriptures – meditating on their words and meanings – praying for hours some days for the trials of others.
He asked for his grave marker to simply say… “he walked with God” , not a mere boast… it was the truth and any who knew Him would same it’s so.
Dad was a character – but he was also a man of character – and that more than any other quality inspires me to live my life with renewed courage and deep integrity every day. His life left a deep impact on thousands and my brother and I were blessed to know and be fathered by him. Dad was old school – and wonderfully unique.
My Dads life is over… his course has been run. I believe he was greeted by Christ himself… with a thunderous whisper… “well done”
I know I have a lot of shoe yet to fill…and by God’s grace and my father’s authentic example, I shall endeavor to do just that.