The presence of my father

June 18, 2016 | (22) Comments

Many of us have moments indelibly etched in our minds from childhood. Moments that we remember as our fondest. And the faces or voices and feelings of those moments make such an impression on us that they inevitably shape who we become as adults. I remember such moments about my father, Bill Wallace.

Back in the 1950s, when I was growing up, my dad worked as the district sales manager for Cameron Iron Works, a company that produced oil-drilling supplies and parts for rigs and wells. I remember going to work many times with my dad, and even now, I often think about how he engaged with the people around him.

Dad was a great “people person,” and one of my favorite memories as a boy was at the Cameron plant where he was a manager. In the warehouse where he worked, there was an office up front, and at the back the employees produced the valves and equipment. Annually he’d clear out the back of the warehouse and put on a fish fry for the employees. All of the men worked together, bringing in huge fryers to cook fish and hush puppies and French fries. There would be 300 men or so at this annual event. It was festive and fun, and I remember the laughter, the jokes and the ribbing among them.

But what I remember most was my dad in the middle of it all. My dad, in his short-sleeve white shirt and tie and his Cameron pocket protector with the three pens, completely immersed himself in the crowd. He went from person to person shaking hands, acknowledging and thanking people and making sure everyone was having a great time.

I can remember watching him as a kid and thinking, “My dad is so good with people.” I saw how they responded to him, how he seemed to make them feel and how much they liked him. It made me feel good, and I was so proud of him. But that was just my dad’s way. He engaged with people that way every place that he was – at church, where he provided comfort to so many. And most importantly at home, where he was there for us always, leading and supporting us.

I admired him then with the eyes and simplicity of a child. But what I’ve come to appreciate since then was my dad’s ability to be so present for every moment and every person who was truly important to him. I have so many memories that revolve around my dad. I observed his treatment of others, and I learned his work ethic and morals. His viable presence influenced us as children and molded my brother and I as men. As a father, I understand his intentions and efforts and the importance of being present for my own children and grandchildren.

Often, when I consider the things that challenge our families and our greater society now, I can’t help but think about the incredible need for fathers. We have amazing fathers among us. Fathers who are present and loving and work hard for their families. But the reality is also that so, so many children do not grow up with the guiding hand and influence of a father in their lives.

I know all families today don’t look as many did decades ago when mom, dad and all their children lived under a single roof. Even I became a single dad when my children were still very young. But we define for our children what it means to be a family. We can make the choice to be present in their lives, to provide them with the love and support they deserve, to nurture their growth and shape their futures. No child should ever wonder, “Where’s dad?” No matter where dad is, we must always define a way to be there, making a positive impact on our children. It is one of the most tangible and worthy contributions we make as men.

Happy, blessed Father’s Day to all.

22 Responses to “The presence of my father”

  1. Heather Cherry

    What a beautiful blog! Thank you for sharing these special memories and moments with your dad. It’s a beautiful tribute to all dads everywhere —Happy Father’s Day!

  2. Newshia Augustine

    Very thoughtful and inspiring father’s day message. Thank you for sharing with us your favorite memories of your dad and the way he shaped you to be a great person. Like you said everyone should have a dad’s voice in their life but not all are fortunate to get that blessing.
    Happy Father’s Day.

  3. Melissa Taylor Muse

    Thank you for your touching story of your dad and his influence on you. I could not help but shed a few tears!! I can imagine your dad would be so proud of all of your accomplishments in both work and home.
    I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day!!

  4. Dawn Akindele

    Mr. Wallace,
    Like your father, you are a great ‘people person’ too. I met you only once at my new employee luncheon in 2007. You shook each new employee’s hand. You made eye contact with each of us and smiled. You said something encouraging and expressed appreciation to each of us from choosing to work at TCH.

  5. Diane Youngblood RN

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories about your dad. Also, your encouraging words to improve the family life of those that work at Texas Children’s Hospital. Two of the items you said truly stood out to me, they were:
    *We define for our children what it means to be a family
    *We can make the choice to be present in their lives, to provide them with the love and support they deserve, to nurture their growth and shape their futures.

    Mr. Wallace, we are blessed to have such a great people person as our leader.
    Happy Father’s Day!

  6. Nan Ybarra

    Lovely message and thank you for sharing your memories. You absolutely share your father’s ability to make a human connection!

    My most vivid memory of my father is at my mother’s funeral. He stood up and delivered a eulogy so poignant, touching and he was so composed. I marveled at his ability to withstand the weight of his grief and share stories detailing the joy, love and light that my mother exuded in her life. We needed to hear that, we needed to laugh at the silly moments retold in his speech. We needed to see and feel her light.

    It was a life long, enduring lesson for me in the power of stoicism. Something which I’ve adopted in my life; quiet and composed does not mean unengaged. Rather it takes much will, control and engagement to separate one’s own personal feelings from the events occurring, the task at hand and look to serve those in need.

    I thank my dad for this life lesson, along with many others and his consistent presence in my life and my children’s lives. Dads are great stuff!

  7. Davida Chatman

    As always.. Well said. Thanks for serving as our organizational father- providing the type of engagment needed to support and foster positive relationships with all employees. You have a special way to motivate each of us to ensure that every employee is valued and loved. Happy father’s day!! 🙂

  8. Keith Garcia

    Mr. Wallace, thanks for your thoughts. My father is 92 years young. As a ship’s captain in the merchant marine, he was gone for long stretches of time. However, his presence was always there. I strongly believe that we learn from our parents more by what they do then what they say. I still learn from my dad. Some of the most important things that my dad has taught me are loyalty, love, trust, consistency and respect. I try to emulate those qualities.

  9. Wanda Loveless

    Thanks for sharing the touching story of your father and his influence on you. I must say that you were handsome back then and even more so now. You have always been a people person since the day I met you back in 1997 at orientation and I know that your made your dad proud. I remember talking with him at you years of service celebration where he was in all smiles when I spoke kinds thoughts of his son. Your dad taught you well and we at Texas Children’s are so proud to have such an awesome leader and a down to earth individual with great morals and beliefs. You da Man….and Happy Father’s Day.

  10. Judy Swanson

    Mark, Happy Father’s Day to you! Your father was a wonderful role model and you learned many of his strong traits to put people first. Relationships are so valuable! God Bless You.

  11. Paola Alvarez-Malo

    What a great post. Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories of your father and for reminding us of the importance of being present for our children.

  12. Heather Jones

    Mr. Wallace, you are SO right! Thank you for sharing your memories of your dad! I too have a wonderful example to follow and completely agree with your statements on the importance of the role of a father! Happy Father’s Day to you!

  13. Vanniece " Vee" Galvan

    Mr. Wallace, such a great memory that you’ve shared with us. Parents are such hero’s to their little ones. I can see so much of your father in you just with that one story. Thank you for being a “people person” like your Dad. Your leadership is valued by us all.

  14. Kathy Green

    Mark, given this story it is very evident where you got your people skills from. You make everyone you come intact with feel welcomed. I am happy to see the apple did not fall far from the tree.

  15. Frank Stowell

    Great post. Made me smile. I see you possess the same gifts as your dad (minus the short sleeves and pocket protector) by being an incredible people person here at Texas Children’s. I marvel at your skills when you walk the hospital grounds greeting everyone in an honest and personable way…just like your dad. By your actions, you honor the way your parents taught you. God bless you.

  16. Pamala S. Pennington

    Mr. Wallace,
    First of all, I hope you had a wonderful Father’s Day. You shared a beautiful story. I can see why you are the people person that you are. Children follow by example and your father set a great one for you and your sibling. You allowed what you learned to travel with you throughout life. I appreciate you for acknowledging me when I see you in the hospital. I don’t feel like I am just one of the employees, but a special person whenever we meet. You make everyone feel special whether it is through a conversation or just a “Hello”. This is just one of the reasons why I feel blessed to be a part of Texas Children’s Hospital.
    Many blessings to you and your family.

  17. Eva Alcorn

    Thank you so much for sharing. I would say our fathers probably knew each other. My dad too worked for Cameron Iron Company starting in 1963 as a machinist and remained until he retired. Your dad reminds me so much of my dad….. love people and helping them in way he can.

    Thanks again for sharing

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