I was sitting in my office last week winding down the day and getting things ready for the new day ahead. It was nearing closing time and I began thinking back through the day and what I had accomplished and was making mental notes of what needed to be done the following morning.
Earlier in the day our office building celebrated a Halloween carry-in. We had decided to dress up in costumes, and I decided to dress as the Brawny paper towel commercial man. I can’t take credit for the idea myself. My wife Becky was instrumental in the choice. It had been a good day as many people in the building had played along and enjoyed dressing up. But let’s get back to the end of my day.
Ever had one of those moments when a random thought out of the blue comes into focus? Well, I had one of those moments. As many things were going through my mind, there was one that for some reason I couldn’t shake. My boots!
You see, my costume included wearing boots. My wardrobe for work doesn’t normally involve jeans and boots, but I was the Brawny man and that is what he wore. You see, I am a little old school. I was taught to always look my best. We wore our Sunday best to church and that even meant to Sunday night church. I was raised by parents who took pride in their family and took pride in everything they did. So, my attire for the day was a little out of the ordinary.
Back to the boots.
My wife says I ramble and my stories take forever. I believe she may be on to something?
I was nearing the end of my day when my boots came into focus. They really aren’t my boots, you see. The boots I was wearing this day belonged to another man.
Who wears someone else’s boots?
These boots were size 13 Red Wings. These boots are a little worn, a little old, pretty discolored and too big for my size 11.5 foot, but somehow they feel so comfortable. These boots belonged to a man that I have followed for years and have attempted to step where he stepped. From the days of following him to the barn to work on some broken down car, to following him on the farm to plow the back 40, to following him to church every Sunday, to following him just to see what he was going to do next. You see, these boots belonged to the man I longed to be one day. They belonged to my Dad.
My Dad could do anything and make it look so easy. These boots went along for the ride. He was a farmer, a tractor puller, a story-teller, a Sunday School teacher, an elder, a very good singer, a mechanic, a fast-pitch softball pitcher, a proud Buford Bulldog, a son, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a great-grandfather, and he was larger than life. These boots have many miles on them, and boy what a story they tell. This article doesn’t begin to have enough lines to cover what I and these boots could tell you about my Dad.
My Dad’s name was Stephen, but we called him Steve. His mom called him Stevie, and even did so on the day we laid him to rest. We also called him Big Steve, and those of you who knew him understand why as he stood 6’4 and had shoulders as wide as a barn. He carried his family well on those shoulders. I can even remember him singing a songs entitled “Big John.” Well, he was our Big John.
Some people called him Pole Climber since that was his CB handle. Some of you likely may not even know about a CB radio? I don’t know if I was ever given a CB name, but I sure remember those days. Do you have your ears on good buddy?
I like the name I called him best. That was Dad.
His boots now belong to me. My Mom gave them to me a few months after he passed. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. As I said they were too big for me. I could never fill those boots. But one day I had some work to do outside and I decided to lace those old worn Red Wings on my feet. Wow… those boots.
I am not sure if it was the fact that they were worn in, or the fact that they were too big, or the fact that they belonged to the one man that meant more to me than I ever could have imagined, but those boots fit. They kept my feet warm. They kept my feet dry. They keep my feet moving to this day.
I told you all of that to tell you this. These boots are still too big for my feet, but these boots represent something else. They tell the story of my Dad. They tell the story of a man that put God first, family second and the story of all the things in between. You see, these boots aren’t just boots. They are my story now. They lead me ahead of my kids and they lead my legacy. They stand for truth, integrity and honor even when those things seem to be fleeting.
My challenge to you readers today is to find your boots. Life isn’t about things, it isn’t about how many Facebook friends you have. Life is about the people that we lead and the people that we touch. I remember a song that Jim Butler used to sing at our church when he would visit family when I was younger. This song by Phillips, Craig and Dean just seems to speak about these boots. The lyrics go like this: “Lord, I want to be just like you, cause he wants to be just like me, let me be a holy example for his innocent eyes to see. Help me be a living Bible, Lord, that my little boy can read, I want to be just like you, ‘cause he wants to be like me.”
Chad McConnaughey is the Highland County recorder.