Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Dad

I've posted this before, but with Father's Day here I can think of nothing better to post this week than this article I wrote about my Dad immediately following his going home to be with the Lord a few years ago. For those who didn't know my Dad, it'll introduce you to him. For those who knew him, it'll remind you of this world's greatest Dad.

Most of you knew Troy Stone as a strong conservative voice in Ellis County. A man who had an opinion about everything and never hesitated to share it. A man who held elected officials accountable, ruffled the feathers that needed ruffling, and rocked every boat that needed rocking. You knew him as a man who loved his country and was determined to do whatever was necessary to keep it the greatest country in the world.

But, let me tell you a little bit about the man I knew as Daddy. He taught me things every young boy needs to know. He taught me how to throw a football, kick a soccer ball, and hit a baseball. Never, once did I ever look to the sideline without seeing my Dad on it. Every single game there he was on the sidelines rooting for me as if I was the best player out there, when in reality, I can assure you, I was not. By the time I made it to high school, my physical stature, yes, I was a runt, steered my away from organized sports and I became involved in marching band. Dad’s level of support never changed. It didn’t matter if it was a home game or an away game. Every week there he was in the stands watching my eight minute half-time performance. Once again, I don’t recall one that he missed. 

That’s the way he was with all of his children. He always supported everything we were involved with. He invested his time, his money, and his energy into each of our lives, our dreams, and our futures. I think I can speak for each of his children in saying that when we were young we thought he was the best. What is an awesome testimony though, is that each of us hold that same opinion here at the end of his life. 

My Dad had five children, but he was “Daddy” to many more. I remember years ago, our family sponsored a young boy who lived in an orphanage in Fairfield, TX. My Dad heard about a track meet this boy was competing in. I don’t remember all the details, but I believe he ran the mile. Although he told my Dad that he wasn’t very good and had never won, my Dad drove to Fairfield to watch him race. When the race started, he took off too fast and my Dad was sure he was going to run out of gas, but he never did. He won the race. I think that the fact that he had a “Daddy” in the stands that day had something to do with it.

I learned more from my Dad by just watching the way he lived his life. He was always willing to help out whenever he saw a need. Like the times he would see a family in need and would buy them groceries, clothes, etc. Or, like the times he would hear of a need at church and would step up to the plate to supply that need. There were even a couple of occasions when he opened his house to young people in need of a place to stay.

Daddy, taught me that the wealth of a man is not found in the size of his bank account but in the depth of his character. He taught me the importance of being a man of integrity and man of your word by living it out before me. For example, one time he had promised to take me to a Ranger’s game. He was out of town working in Laredo at that time and we didn’t think he was going to make it home in time. I was crushed, because he had promised to take me. Then all of a sudden into the driveway pulls my Dad. He runs into the house, changes clothes, kisses Mom and off we go to the game. Pretty incredible for a man who had just driven all the way from Laredo. I don’t remember anything else about the game that night, just that my Dad kept his promise.

I also learned about strength and courage from my Dad. There was no better example of that, than how he lived his life over the past few years. While living with the advanced stages of emphysema, he continued to live his life to the fullest. Even though he became oxygen dependent 24/7, he continued to be involved in the Republican party here in Ellis county. Every election day you could count on seeing him working the polls. Afterwards, he would be exhausted for several days, but that never kept him from doing it again. He never let his disease prevent him from making trips to the Houston area to spend time with his children and grandchildren. On July 4th, 2004 while hooked up to his portable oxygen machine, he insisted on running his snow-cone machine at an outdoor church function in southeast Texas. We constantly got on to him about over doing it, but the fact is he knew no other way to live his life than full-throttle.

I could write volumes about my Dad and perhaps someday I will. He didn’t leave his family a huge monetary inheritance, but the inheritance he left is worth more than all this world’s riches. It is no doubt that this world is a better place because of his influence here. All that knew him will truly miss him. America will miss his patriotism. Ellis county will miss his strong conservative voice. The Republican Party will miss his leadership. And I’ll miss my Daddy.

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