Family Matters

Absentee Father?

Some people may remember the Hogsetts as the “softball family.”  I suppose this is the normal progression when a family consists of five (!) daughters, a baseball buff father (unfortunately, the only time the word “buff” will be used to describe me) and a consummate supportive/involved mother.

It started out innocently enough.  I didn’t even realize Little League Softball for girls existed until my two oldest daughters, Amber and Kara, brought home entry forms that had been handed out at school.  Little did I know this would eventually lead to coaching, league administration and travel ball that replaced summer vacations for many years.  I always say, “Show me a coach or a league president and I’ll show you someone who wasn’t quick enough on his feet to lie his way out of being asked to volunteer!”  But as the cliché goes, I wouldn’t trade that period of my life for all the money in the world.

In the first year or two of our softball affiliation, I was just a bystander parent.  I wouldn’t have minded helping out, but I’m typically not a person who needs to be in charge.  So I was perfectly happy watching from the bleachers.  Both girls excelled, especially considering their late start, as many of their teammates had been playing since t-ball.  As well as Amber played when I was there, occasionally I would miss a game and find out later that she had performed exceptionally.  She never seemed to have these outstanding games when I was present.  At first I thought this was just my bad luck, but I finally talked with her about it and was dismayed to learn it made her very nervous when I attended games and she would prefer I did not attend.

Although somewhat heartbroken by my oldest daughter’s honesty, I decided that for her sake I would attend games, but position myself in a place where she could not see me and thus not know I was there.  Picture a grown man crouched down between cars or lurking under a jungle gym.  I was that guy.  This went on for several months until Amber started to figure it out, but by that time she had developed more confidence and (sort of) began to welcome my presence at games.

As I reminisce about this, I wonder if I made a mistake by letting my beloved daughter believe I was absent from her games.  In my limited earthly wisdom, I did what I thought at the time was best.  Sometimes we might go through events in our lives where we think God is not there for us.  We should know that He is always watching us, even when we can’t see Him.  Unlike this earthly dad, our Father in Heaven does not make mistakes.  In His flawless Heavenly wisdom, He knows the perfect time to reveal His constant presence and always knows what is best for us.

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Drum Major

When I received my class schedule on my first day of high school, I was surprised to see that I had Marching Band in third period.  This was because I did not play a marching band instrument, nor had I signed up for band.  I went to the office and was informed that it was a computer error, but they were very backed up and I should report to the class for that day and come back the next day when things had settled down a little.

I reported to class and immediately informed the band director, Mr. Tweel, of my situation.  He said, “We can always use extra bodies.  Why don’t you consider staying and being a ‘roadie’ for the band?  If you do everything I ask, I will give you straight A’s.”  Wow!  No studying, no homework AND straight A’s?  I enthusiastically agreed.

One of my tasks that year was to help carry the “Huntington East Highlanders” banner out in front of the band as they performed in the annual band festival parade that went down 4th Avenue in Huntington.  This was a fairly innocuous duty and one that I pretty much forgot about over the years.

Some 35 years later, my dad and I were eating at a local restaurant.  He was one of those people who called waitresses by their names and liked to engage them in conversation (to this day when I do that, my children jokingly call me Pa-Paw!).  You know how as we get older our minds sometimes play tricks on us?  Well, our waitress mentioned that she was in the marching band at Cabell Midland High School, which prompted my dad to proudly proclaim, “My son here was the drum major for Huntington East!”  The drum major was the guy who actually conducted the band.  He carried a scepter, wore a kilt, and it was considered quite an honor to hold the title of drum major.  I quickly interjected that I only carried the flag, but Dad didn’t seem to hear.  This same basic (and embarrassing) conversation happened several times over the next few years until I finally just didn’t have the heart any more to correct my dad.

So, despite my marriage, children, college degree, career and any other worldly accomplishments, possibly my greatest achievement in my father’s eyes was something that I didn’t even do!  It’s kind of funny and sad all at once.

When I think of all the anguish I caused Dad during my high school years, it makes me realize that there wasn’t much positive for him to remember.  True or not, he chose to remember something good.  Isn’t this similar to how our Heavenly Father looks at us?  He knows all the disappointing things we have done, but He still chooses to remember the good that is in all of us.

"Love…keeps no record of wrongs" (1 Corinthians 13:5).