I woke up this morning thinking about my dad.
He passed away in 2011 at the age of 95. I remember many things about my dad, but some of the most memorable ones were his stories about how things were when he was growing up or stories about some of his activities as a young person.
I remember when my dad was eighty-six years old; I drove up to Greenville and brought him down to visit with us for a few weeks here in Georgetown. Georgetown was where he was from, having grown up in an area that was originally known as Britt’s Neck, but now is called Britton’s Neck. It’s in the “woods”.
There is nothing there now but the old family cemetery. All the land that was in the family when dad was growing up has changed hands many times as the family sold little by little the over 5,000 acres. International Paper bought most of it, but even that has changed hands now. From where my dad’s parent’s old home place was to the main road, in Sampit was about 7 miles.
I could have measured the distance but there was no need, dad told me how far it was. He also told me of his first trip to Columbia, the capital city of South Carolina. I believe it was his first trip outside of the Georgetown – Andrews’s area. The occasion of his trip as a young 16 year old lad was the state championship game for High School baseball. He attended Andrews High School; the year would have been around 1930-31.
He walked early that morning the seven miles out to the main road to catch a ride on the school bus that was making the trip up with some of the students going to support their team. He didn’t say much about the ride, but he did talk about the great city of Columbia.
He was particularly taken with the capital building itself. He said that he spent several hours walking all around the State House grounds. The first thing he did was to walk around the sidewalk and look at the building from all four sides and then went into the building itself. This trip to Columbia, it was, as he said, the greatest event in his life up until that time.
He told me as he was walking around inside the State House, that he saw a drinking fountain. He decided to get a drink of water, and so he did.
My Dad looked at me in that moment and said, “I know it may seem silly now, but I got me that drink of water, not because I was thirsty, but I thought ‘I am going to get me a drink of water from the Capital Building in Columbia.’” He went on to say, “It doesn’t mean anything now, but then it was a very important event in my life; a drink of water from the Capital.”
I was 50 years old then, but as I listened to my Dad talk about his trip to Columbia, it was almost as if I could see that young boy, all full of excitement as he was seeing things he had only read about or imagined before. I could see, even as he told the story, that the excitement of that time was still very much alive within him. It was there, I could see it in the twinkle of his eyes.
The time that we live in now is so different from the one he grew up in. Our children have traveled to places a lot further away than 120 miles from home, most before they are five or six years of age. With television, they have seen places all over the world. Rare is the child today, who would become enthralled with the idea of getting a drink of water from a place visited and nothing more. We have to buy them a car load of souvenirs to take home. Within a few weeks those are all forgotten. But the joy of that drink of water from Columbia had lasted my Dad for more than 70 years when he told me that story.
My father never envisioned as a young man that his grandchildren, my daughters would have traveled and lived in 6 countries by the time they were 6 years old. He never dreamed that one of his granddaughters, my Courtnee, would be born in the South American country of Ecuador. But when it happened, he took it in stride. Yet I wonder… for I did see the twinkle in his eye as he reminisced… It was very similar to the twinkle I saw in them as I watched him hold my grandchildren in his arms while he was here.
There is yet another kind of water that we all can drink, which will change our lives, even more so than that which my father drank all those years ago. John 4:10 says, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
For those of you who are dying to know the answer to the as yet unasked question, “Who won the game in Columbia that my Dad went to see?” Why, Andrews did, of course. I always did like a happy ending!
Brad Morris, a retired minister, originally from Georgetown, served as a pastor and then as a missionary in Costa Rica and Ecuador, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has been in ministry for 50 years and a columnist for 17 years, 12 of which have been for the Times.