I mentioned his 32 years in the Navy and in describing him I wrote, "A man of honor." Later that day those words kept cropping up in my thoughts. I wondered what actually makes a man honorable. I knew it described him so well. Two specific memories came back to me that reinforced it.
One summer at Emerald Isle, NC, during family vacation, Mama and I sat chatting on the porch rockers of Uncle's Bill's house. Our family spent a week there every summer for over 20 years.
Daddy was long retired but she shared some thoughts from his sailor days. "When he'd ship out, I'd have to do it all back home. When Bert was little, Daddy was gone for 18 months during the war."
"Mama, did you ever worry about him?"
"Sure, it was war. But I also knew God had His plans for us, so I trusted Him in those times. So many wives didn't have that. They didn't even trust their husbands so far away. A lot of men cheated on their wives."
"Did you ever worry about that, Mama?"
"Well, Honey, I guess because I knew your daddy so well. He wouldn't even bring home a Navy issued pen or paperclip from work. A lot of men did though."
"Sure. But not Daddy. And I knew if he was honest in little things, he'd be faithful to me. He's a man of honor."
Another time Dad quietly verified honor in his life was at a crossroads right after retirement from the Navy. He had both experience and years to give. His career was in food services as a Naval supply officer. He managed commissaries (grocery stores), mess halls (cafeterias) and galleys (kitchens.) Daddy was not a cook per se, but an excellent manager of food services and supply both on bases and aboard ships.
He and Mama discussed what the next years would be. "Kathryn, I want to give the Lord these years. I'm going to put in my application at Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville, TN. I'll wait until a certain date and if I've not heard from them, I'll assume the Lord is leading another direction."
My brother, Bert, was an alumni and I was a high school senior heading to the same college in a year. So it seemed like a perfect fit, a perfect plan but
God had other plans. The deadline date set by my father for his dream job came. . .and went. No response from Nashville. Meanwhile he had another offer to work in food services at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.
But then just days after the self-imposed deadline, he got that offer from the Bible college. He turned it down, even though it was his heart's desire. Why? "Because if God wanted me there, that offer would have arrived earlier."
So we moved to North Carolina where he worked under an experienced man for 2 years, learning much about college food industry.
Then the school in Nashville came back again with the offer. I was a rising sophomore there by then. My brother was on staff there.
Dad accepted. "Those two years trained me for the shift from Navy to academic life in my field. I'm better ready now." At ECU he morphed from "Swab the deck." to "Please mop the floor."
God's timing was perfect. Only a man of honor would not jump at the dream job because of a few days delay in the response. But he'd prayed about it and kept his word.
A man of honor must first be so in little things like paperclips and ink pens. Then the big things, like marriage and career, take care of themselves on his path of integrity.
Daddy. A veteran and a true man of honor.