This father builds his family's home and character - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

This father builds his family's home and character

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Dolly Withrow Dolly Withrow
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    I met Robin Williams 32 years ago at a bar in Italy. He must have been about 31 and had lived almost half of his life, although we didn't know it at the time.I was sitting at the bar with my ex-husband.
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Dolly Withrow is a retired English professor and the author of four books.Contact writer Dolly Withrow at ritewood@aol.com.

After several years, the Realtor's inquiry still hangs at the edge of my mind like an autumn leaf refusing to fall. At the time, I sensed his question might have been a kind of embarrassment to Bill, my husband. The two of us were riding in the back seat of the Realtor's car. He was transporting us to look at houses, for we had just returned to West Virginia from Louisiana and needed a home.  

The Realtor aimed a glance and smile toward the back seat and said, "Bill, do you play golf in your leisure hours?"

Bill said, "No, I don't play golf." An awkward silence followed. Why would anyone not play golf?  Business and other kinds of deals are cut on golf courses. Our son plays golf because it's part of his job. He also plays for enjoyment, as many golfers do. Our son also plays golf with his son and his son's friends. Professional golfers play for fame and money. There are, however, persons who opt not to play golf at all.  

The Realtor died long ago, but if my husband could answer him after the passing of many years, it could be with the satisfaction of telling the realtor about a life well lived. Here are some of the ways my husband has filled his leisure hours throughout our long marriage. 

He spent hours driving to and from our daughter's track meets. Watching her run, he sat on bleachers in sleet, rain, snow and icy winds. He cheered her on under the hot summer sun as she competed. His loyal attendance to each track meet began in her junior high school years and continued through high school and college when she ran on a track scholarship at Marshall University. 

Bill supported our son in the same way as he sat on bleachers in autumn, watching him play football in Little League. Later, Bill cheered for him as he played basketball in junior high school. Still later, Bill and I traveled approximately 60 miles every weekend to and from the university where both son and daughter attended.  Our vacations to the beach were spent with our offspring, and when they wanted to vacation with friends, we took the friends along, too. 

Now, they have children of their own, but Bill remains a giving father. When something breaks down at our son's house, he calls his dad. If our son-in-law is not at home, Bill answers our daughter's requests for help. He is a good father, not because he thinks it's his duty, but he does all of it out of love, not duty. That's the reason great fathers everywhere are there for their children. 

Through more than five decades, Bill spent hours painting and building and planting and mowing to create a pleasant home environment for his family. He built shelves and decks and steps and rooms, but in the process he also helped to build the character of two fine adults, who in turn have done the same for their children. 

On this Father's Day, 2013, our son and daughter helped their dad through one of life's rough times. Needing a hip replacement, Bill ambles through the house with the aid of a walker. Each morning, though, the phone rings at least twice. One call is from our daughter, Risa. She asks about her dad and wants to know whether there is anything she can do. Our son, Jeff, calls each morning and wants to help in some way. As is true in many rural West Virginia communities, we share the same acreage, so they both live nearby and come to our house each day. 

Today, if a Realtor were to ask Bill that same question, Bill could say, "No, I don't play golf, but I spent my leisure time doing what I loved, being a full-time father."