Father’s Day Reflections: Legacies

A photo of my son-in-law, William Simkins III, and my grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins, who embody the expression of “Legacies,” the subject of this Father’s Day Tribute.

As I begin my morning with a time of reflection and giving thanks to God, I realize that today, June 21, 2020, is Father’s Day. I am grateful for my Heavenly Father as well as my earthly father, Lonnie Johnson, who contributed so much to my success. In thinking about him, I recall words from my daughter, Melissa, who paid tribute to her grandfather in her first book Brand Me: Make Your Mark—How to Turn Passion into Profit. In Chapter 7 Pass on the Legacy, she comments on the impact her grandfather had on her life. Here is an excerpt from her thought-provoking discussion:

At the age of five, I had vivid memories of my Grandpa Johnson getting up early Saturday mornings to walk the streets of Gary, Indiana in search of one thing…aluminum cans. He would walk for miles with a trash bag going from corner to corner, house to house, and would even search the grocery store parking lots. Locals knew Mr. Johnson as the “can man.” It seemed a bit peculiar to me during my formative years until later in life when I discovered that this part-time endeavor was for me and my sister. He wanted to help my parents raise funds for college.

My grandfather was a straight A-student but had to drop out of grade school when his family moved to another state. Lonnie Johnson was bright, but he never had the opportunity to complete high school nor enjoy the benefits of a college education because of his family situation. What he lacked in formal education he made up for in his vision for life and his work ethic. Although he experienced many setbacks in life, he never lost his passion for education. He provided financial support for my father and his sister while they earned their undergraduate degrees. Most importantly, he was committed to leaving his mark in the world through creative foresight and vision.

Grandpa’s vision was larger than his lifetime. Picking up those cans represented a dream that in time would become a reality. Even though he knew it may not happen through his personal experience, he was determined that it would happen through his grandchildren. As I grew older, I came to know that Grandpa used every cent from those aluminum cans to establish a college fund for all four of his grandchildren. Although Grandpa is gone now, we all achieved our dream of going to college through the labor of his hands.

Today, I am living my grandfather’s legacy. My passion for education I attribute, in part, to his legacy. He left a financial legacy that has empowered me, my sister, and my two cousins to have access to education that he never experienced. Who is living your legacy?

Melissa’s question reminds me of an original poem composed on Father’s Day 18 years ago. I have since dedicated it to my sons-in-law and countless other brothers:

Legacies

I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain
And generate legacies we pass on
To each generation, father to son,
Heart to heart. The light of life left behind
Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,
Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

II

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all
Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.
Our lives of service are legacies we pass on
To the next generation, from father to son.
With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

We rally to support a brother should he fall.
Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:
A covenant of blood ever seals our union.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.
They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,
Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.
On the shoulders of our fathers, we now stand tall
To view the future where greater victories are won.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

We conclude our Father’s Day tribute with Nichole Nordeman singing her song: “Legacy”

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2 Responses to “Father’s Day Reflections: Legacies”

  1. Melissa Says:

    Happy Father’s Day! What a powerful tribute and a legacy I will always treasure. Love you!

  2. Dr. J Says:

    You are very much part of my legacy. Thanks so much for your thoughtful sharing in your book.

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