Last Sunday was the first Father’s Day that I couldn’t celebrate with my father. Here’s hoping they subscribe to The Sampson Independent in heaven, because this column is for him.
My father regularly introduced himself to others saying, “The name’s H.D. Lockamy. My friends call me Lucky.” He said the last part as a warm invitation: Be a friend, and refer to him by the nickname he’s had since little league football.
I never saw anyone he introduced himself to call him anything other than Lucky.
He was an incredibly sensitive man. He could tell me “I love you” in Vietnamese French, one of many expressions burned in his memory from his time in Vietnam. And little gave him more pride than providing for and protecting his family.
He was never more involved in my life than when he coached my little league baseball team in the summers at Clement. For a couple months during those summers, he adopted twelve boys as his sons, teaching us how to play the game while spouting randomly numbered Rules on Life. (Rule #1: Have fun. Rule #7: Wear deodorant. Rule #53: Always say thank you.)
On one occasion, there was a black snake in the bathroom at the baseball field. To ease the fear of a couple of the boys on the team, my father casually walked into the bathroom. Thirty seconds later he emerged, holding the snake in his hands with a fresh bite wound near his wrist to show for it. He showed the snake to us, then released him into the nearby trees.
Too often Father’s Day sentiments celebrate only the virtues of our fathers — but there’s a lot to appreciate and learn from their vices also. My father’s alcoholism, lack of non-material support, and emotional paralysis, the near-complete inability to express his feelings, have served as powerful negative examples for me in my life. Traits that I’ve vowed not to pass down to my sons.
He lived only 61 years on this Earth, but he led a full life in that time. He left behind a family who knew his fierce love — a wife, two children, one grandchild, two sisters, a mother, and countless extended family. But he didn’t leave us behind; he led the way. Like the snake in the bathroom at the baseball field, he charged ahead and showed us that Death is nothing to be feared. We must embrace it. It was the last lesson he offered.
When friends, old and new, called him Lucky, few realized that they were doing more than saying his name — they were describing how he felt about his life.
I was lucky to have known him.