Growing up, I always looked forward to Father’s Day. We never had a lot of money so when I was young I always made a gift that I hoped my dad would like. When I look back on them now, I realize that they were not the greatest gifts, but my dad always made out like they were and I was so pleased to see the big smile on his face.
As I got older (junior high) and started earning my own money, I generally bought some sort of fishing lure or supplies for Father’s Day. Fishing, hunting and camping were a big part of our lives growing up. Dad always said that he didn’t have a lot of school learning but he did know the outdoors and enjoyed teaching us what he knew about it.
My dad taught me to identify animals not only by sight, but by their tracks, droppings and sounds. He taught me how to hunt birds, small and big game with a bow, rifle or shotgun. I remember him teaching me how to shoot a .22 rifle when I was 4 years old. He held the barrel and allowed me to aim and shoot.
His love of the outdoors became my love of the outdoors which led me to study biology and eventually get my Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology. At 62, I still remember most of what he taught me and can still track an animal, stalk a deer and spot a specific bird by its call.
Dad was also the only dad to play baseball and football with us kids. There were times that kids in the neighborhood came to the door and asked my mom if my dad could come out and play. He always made time for us and let us know how important we were to him.
My dad also taught me to respect other people and their property. He taught me never to lie and that is one thing I can’t stand from anyone. He also taught me work ethics and to do the best I could at whatever I did and to always treat others as I would want them to treat me.
Dad was always proud of being physically fit and taught Boy Scouts to be the same. He taught them how to swim, canoe, life-saving, first-aid and many other skills. He always impressed them by standing on his hands and walking or running distances. I’ve seen him walk around a pool, climb the ladder to the diving board then do a flip, all standing on his hands. He would also climb a rope with only his hands.
After major back surgery almost paralyzed him, I watched him work till he almost cried, getting back on his feet. Five months later he got a job as a laborer for Salt River Project, a major utility in the Phoenix-Mesa metropolitan area. I watched him come home from work hurting, but not complaining. A couple years later, he got a part time job at a gas station to help provide for us and so that we could afford to go hunting and fishing. He worked hard all his life, making his way from laborer to supervisor.
My dad enlisted in the US Navy before the start of World War 2, served 6 years and was honorably discharged after the war ended. He served in the Pacific and was present at the battles of Saipan and Bougainville among others. One of my most prized possessions today is the American flag that flew on his ship, AKA Fomalhaut at those battles.
About 20 years ago, my dad was in auto accident that injured his lower back, where he had the surgery so many years earlier. The accident did additional damage to his spinal cord and over the years the muscles in his legs began to atrophy. Eventually he was humbled when his legs would no longer hold him up, confining him to a wheelchair.
The damage to the spinal cord in the lower back also affected his bowels, making most of what he ate pass straight through. The loss of control was embarrassing to such an independent man, but he did the best he could.
This past year, he declined to the point where he had to be moved into a nursing facility. He was in a great deal of pain from the spinal cord damage. He was getting morphine several times a day, but it didn’t kill all of the pain. Since before last Christmas, dad was praying that the Lord would take him and end his suffering. My mom, sister, brother and I also prayed that God would take him.
On this Father’s Day, I prayed to God that the greatest Father’s Day gift He could give us was to take dad home with Him and end his suffering. At 11:10pm, Arizona time on Sunday, God answered my prayer and took dad into His arms and welcomed him into eternal paradise. Without a doubt, this was my dad’s greatest Father’s Day gift ever.
My dad, Willie Eugene Jolly was and always will be my hero. He lived 92 years, 7 months and 24 days here on earth and now will live forever in heaven because he believed in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. For this we rejoice for him as we mourn our loss. Of everything dad did in his long life, nothing was more important than him knowing Jesus.
I only share this with all of you in hopes that you will realize the importance of having a saving faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior because we will all die someday. The question is where will you spend eternity after you die? With Jesus and God the Father or in eternal damnation, punishment and absence from the presence of God?