My friends called Daddy "The Man" long before "You da man!" ever
became a popular catch phrase.
When it came to law enforcement, Daddy was a natural. Love for his
work ran through his veins thicker than blood ever could. When I was born,
Daddy worked as a license examiner with the Georgia State Patrol. He
became a patrolman a few years later and, in 1968, graduated from the FBI
Academy in Washington, D.C. When he returned to Georgia, he took a job
with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, first as a Special Investigator
and later in the GCIC (Georgia Crime Information Center).
In the early 1970's, when Jimmy Carter was Governor of our great
state, the GCIC obtained a new administrator. Something about the
administrator and Daddy didn't quite gel, so working with him was an
exercise in faith. When the boss decided that Daddy should take a transfer
from our hometown of Sylvania (where Daddy had been stationed for nearly
twenty years) to the remote town of Alma, the true test of Daddy's faith
Not wanting the transfer had nothing to do with lack of respect for
authority. My mother had been ill for several years and was under the
constant care of physicians; her doctors were adamant that she not move
from the area. Also, my parents did not want to uproot my brother and me.
Given these two factors, Daddy refused the transfer.
The boss was not pleased. In what could only be a power play, he sent
my father "on the road" for an "undetermined" amount of time. I remember
Daddy standing in the middle of our solid knotty-pine kitchen, telling Mama
that he would only be home once every three weeks or so. "If he had poured
hot water over me, it couldn't have been any more of a shock," he said.
And so he packed his bags and began "living" in State Patrol offices.
When Daddy came home for a day or two, I would run through the house
and into his arms. Daddy's hugs were desired bear hugs, in spite of the
fact that the handle of his gun dug painfully into my flesh. Over Mama's
delicious, home-style dinner, we would listen attentively as he told us of
his travels, and how much he missed us -- especially at night.
"I don't know why Mr. B has chosen to do this," he said. "But every
morning and every night I read the twenty-seventh Psalm. It gives me the
courage and strength to get through this. And I know that one day God will
bless me and change this man's heart."
From that day on, I read Psalm twenty-seven on a daily basis, allowing
it to penetrate my heart and mind. I believed the words, even though I saw
no evidence of the promises found there.
One afternoon, after a year had gone by, Mama was outside in the
yard. Having just killed a snake with her shovel (an act she later would
later call prophetic) she was still excited when she ran in to answer the
"I just got the word," Daddy said from the other end. "I'm coming
home! This time for good."
Daddy was right. I had learned a lesson that I would never forget.
Today, if you turn to the twenty-seventh Psalm in my Bible, you will see
written in bold letters: Daddy's Psalm. Every time I see those words, I