Column: Cherished memories of my father


May God bless each and every father as we wish you a Happy Father's Day. Fatherhood is a theme within scripture, and we know that God is the best Father who loves His Son Jesus Christ and all of His children so much that He provided a way for them to spend an eternity with Him. My dad passed away in 2016. I miss my father; I admired him and always will.

There are lots of stories about Father's Day, and recently I was curious about how the special day began. According to one historian, at the beginning of the 20th century, the idea of honoring and promoting fatherhood was initially met with resistance. Not that fathers were not loved and respected, but some folks thought it was too sentimental as with Mother's Day and were attempting to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift giving. The story begins with a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd in Spokane, Washington, who was inspired by her widowed father. She and her five siblings were raised by him, a Civil War veteran and single parent. Wanting to establish a special day for all dads, she worked diligently, and the first celebration was on June 19, 1910. However, it took several decades of efforts by individuals and organizations to establish Father's Day as an official holiday.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson honored the day by unfurling a flag in Spokane, and in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged states to recognize the day. It was not until 1972 that Father's Day was officially recognized as a national holiday in the United States, signed into law by President Richard Nixon. I think about my dad, and as I'm older now, I understand more clearly how difficult it was for him and mom to raise a family. I'm a part of the old-school generation where my dad worked and my mom was a housewife similar to the old TV shows like "Leave it to Beaver" and "Ozzie and Harriet." Their parents were poor and uneducated, and the idea back in those days was if you had any type of job, you were doing good. I'm not sure they knew how to help us kids.

I did not really think about it at the time, but I remember as a kid how hard my dad worked to provide for his family. He owned his own construction company, and as a custom home builder, he was very talented and creative. I have two younger sisters, and we always had everything we needed. Sometimes dad would take me to work with him and give me some type of odd job to do and would pay me, which was very exciting. He was trying to teach me the rewards of hard work and how to be responsible. As I grew up and started having children of my own, he was always trying to help me; and as the only son, I know he loved me and was proud of me. We hear about amazing people who are praised for their accomplishments, but a true hero is someone who has personally invested their time and resources to help us become the person we are today.

My dad was a large man, a physical specimen of strength and endurance. His framing contractors would say they had never seen a person who could lift one side of a house center beam by themselves like he did. He could pour 20 yards of concrete by himself and come in late at night after finishing huge basement floors. But, beyond his obsessive-compulsive disorder and relentless drive to succeed, I remember his sensitivity and compassion. Underneath the rugged persona, I knew him as a softhearted, affectionate father who throughout my life would always wrap his arms around me and hold me. I miss those hugs.

Sadly, my dad's life was cut short by a hereditary kidney disease (PKD), and he ended up spending his last 20 years on dialysis. He became very weak and was in pain yet would never complain. He was always smiling and a source of wisdom, hope and encouragement. He asked me to officiate his celebration of life service and insisted that I keep it positive and make it clear that he had lived a wonderful and blessed life. He said no one wants to hear about what it was like to suffer all the time. This is the type of caring person he was.

Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife, Cheryl, where he is a Christian minister, chaplain and author. Read more about the Christian life at