My sister, brother and I lost our father when we were quite young, and now he’s been gone for nearly as long as he lived on this earth. While it’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves, the years, some maturity and a lot of observation has taught me that while we lost much, we had so much more than some ever had.
Asberry Day was a simple, yet complex man. While that statement seems to contradict itself, it paints a picture of a man who possessed deep-seeded beliefs and values, but his requirements of materialist things of this world were rather simplistic.
He was born in the early 1920s in Perry County, Ky. to Nathan and Martha Day, a couple who raised a family on a hillside farm in coal country. Life was tough and work was hard, and when the Great Depression hit in 1929, many didn’t even notice it. I remember Dad telling me that when he became old enough to join the military he did, because “Grandpa worked him to death,” he said with laughter in his voice.
I believe that nothing in this life really happens by accident, although it seems rather remote that a boy from Hazard, Ky. would meet a little girl from Boston, Mass. that he would marry. However, he was temporarily stationed in Boston prior to shipping overseas during World War II, and just like out of a Hollywood feature, he promised he would return when fighting was done, and nearly five years later, he did.
The two were married, he uprooted his little Boston girl and transplanted her in the rocky soil of deep, dark Kentucky. Times remained tough and jobs hard to find in southeastern Kentucky in those days, so the two loaded up the Conestoga wagon (just kidding), and followed the trail to Dayton, Ohio. Both were able to secure jobs, and a better life began.
I remember Dad always saying that there were two things you never discussed publicly, unless you were a preacher or running for office. Religion and politics. In fact, Dad lost an uncle (his namesake) during an election day shoot-out. And we think that politics is a heated topic today! Of course, if you prompted him enough, Dad could wax rather eloquently about both topics, and left no questions about where he stood on either.
He believed that if a man was well and refused to work, he shouldn’t eat. He believed a man should take care of and love his family and honor should go both ways. He was strict, yet he never disciplined without an explanation as to why.
I always kid my siblings by telling them that the birth of my sister was an experiment. They waited seven years and then came the perfection they were seeking — me! But then on the topic of baby brother, accidents do occur occasionally. I find that I always find that analogy funnier than they do. So, if I am ever reported missing, be suspicious of those two.
Dad worked his life in factories and foundries. He and Mom bought two farms, raised crops, cattle, hogs, horses, hunting dogs, cats, and three kids, and never once did we, or anyone who ever visited, ever walk away from our home hungry. We always knew we were loved because not only did they say it, but they showed us in everything they did. Most who knew Dad knew him to be a friend and respected him.
My father was a man I always wanted to be like, but I have fallen short in so many ways. He wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and I always figured that if he had lived, he might have been tempted to kill me, as I was his problem child (of course I say that figuratively … I think).
In those times when I miss him, and I do every day, I feel so fortunate to have had a father like Asberry Day, if even for just a little while, because I know that there are so many who never knew their father, or never have known the peace, love and comfort that comes from a loving, close knit family like mine. It was so much better to have had that for a short while than to never have had it at all.
On this Father’s Day, I salute all dads, but especially, my Dad.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. You can email him at [email protected] and follow his work at www.HerbDayVoices.com.