He was born in poverty. He ran four miles round-trip to school. Money was scarce. His clothes were hand-me-downs. However, they were always pressed and clean. At 5'9" tall he was a giant among his peers. He was always confident and optimistic. Good looks were his gift. He wore it well. Determination was his sidekick as he grew into the man he would become. Later in his life he became my father.
I've seen where James Edward Fannin was born and raised. I cried at the thought of his existence in those conditions. However, my dad never looked back on his past as a handicap. He was my hero. Although I grew to be four inches taller than him, I always looked up to him. I never heard him utter a negative word. He never gossiped. He never spread rumors. I never knew him to tell a lie. These things I learned from my father. Thanks Dad.
My father worked multiple jobs to put my mom through college. He never complained. He even helped her make an A in trigonometry and this was without a high school education. How he figured it out, I'll never know. We sat in the front row as my mom crossed the stage to receive her Masters degree in nursing. He was so proud. He was tireless in putting my mom through school. In fact, he was tireless in everything he did. I've always mirrored his work ethic. It has served me well. Thanks Dad.
My father was brilliant. I have seen him finish the New York Times crossword puzzle in one sitting. Every space was filled in. All were correct. "How did you know the sun god was called Ra?" I would ask. His reply was, "you didn't learn that in college?" He read a lot. There was always a book by my father's nightstand. I know my mind was cultivated partly from his DNA and partly from witnessing his thirst for knowledge. Thanks Dad.
James Fannin wrote on a legal pad every day of his adult life. He was an uneducated wordsmith. My penmanship and fondness for the written word were his doing. A yellow legal pad is near me at all times. Thanks Dad.
He threw a baseball with me every day the weather was nice. He was my biggest fan. His love for sports became my love. We listened to the University of Kentucky basketball games, Cincinnati Reds broadcasts and watched the Cleveland Browns every chance we could get. My first Major League Baseball game was with my father in old Crosley Field in Cincinnati. I love sports. It's a passion. Thanks Dad.
Although he couldn't afford to travel with me to tennis tournaments, he encouraged me to be the best I could be. He knew that it was my mind that would set me apart. His insight into the mental side of sports set me on a path that I still enjoy. He had read every book about and by the great Kentucky-born prophet and psychic, Edgar Cayce. Cayce has been called the Father of the New Age Movement. My father turned me on to this thinking at an early age. Thanks Dad.
My father was a kind man. He was polite. He was considerate. I never heard him raise his voice. He was gentle. I hope I have a little bit of those traits. Thanks Dad.
Don't get me wrong. My father was tough. He was hillbilly-tough. He fought seven professional fights. He rode bulls in the rodeo in Texas. He worked in the shipyards as a laborer in Galveston, Texas and Newport News, Virginia. He would never back down from a challenge. Never. I get that tenacity from him. Thanks Dad.
In 1974 when my S.C.O.R.E.® Success System was created, my father was the president of his local Optimist Club. The word "optimism," which is both literally and figuratively at the center of the word S.C.O.R.E.®, was my father's influence. Optimism was my only option as the cornerstone of my program. Thanks Dad.
Today, I always dress nice. I wear the best clothes I can find. Looking sharp is the only option. This is to honor my father who was the best-dressed man I've ever met. Thanks Dad. I hope I'm the man you believed I could become.
Honor your father this Father's Day. Acorns don't fall far from the tree. Hug the tree a little extra on June 19th.
Miss you Dad.