He was born to loving parents, one of seven children. He was born with glaucoma. He suffered many days without seeing with intense eye pain. He eventually went totally blind at age eleven. None of that stopped him. Due to his circumstances, he was forced to attend the school for the deaf and blind in St. Augustine, Florida. He was double promoted, skipping the eighth and the eleventh grades. After graduating high school, he attended Southeastern Bible College and graduated from there as well.
I don't have any of my childhood pictures here in Jamaica, but this is one of my favorites of my daddy holding his only grandchild on the day he was born. When I was a child he held me just as tenderly as he is holding Nathan in the above picture.
And, he has held me close with those tender hands for the last forty three years. I guess if I had to pick of one or two of daddy's characteristics they would have to be gentleness and full of wisdom. People have often asked me what it was like growing up with a blind father. I have always said that the only thing my daddy couldn't do is drive a car. And to be honest with you he has sort of done that. I can remember him backing the car out of the carport so he could wash it. He never lacked in ways of discipline. Although he had no trouble whatsoever spanking my brother and me, his correction was always firm but gentle. I have never heard my daddy raise his voice to me.
My daddy is the smartest man I know. Not only academically but in all aspects of life. I can remember when I was young and stupid I got into credit card trouble. I don't know how he found out about it but one day we were at lunch and he told me that he and mama wanted to help me pay off my credit card debt. They had discussed it and they would give me the money to pay off the debt and I could repay them without the high interest rates. He didn't see my embarrassing smile as I said, "Daddy you can't do that because I owe a lot." He assured me that he knew it was a lot and they still wanted to help. However, he didn't know quite how much it was and when he pressed me for the amount, I told him. Unmoved, all he said was, "Oh! I didn't know it was that much." Even though he didn't lend me the whole amount he still helped me. He helped me get a loan in my name, using their house for collateral at a much lower interest rate than the credit cards wanted. That part shows his goodness. He also got an insurance policy to cover the amount of the loan just in case I defaulted on it. He had me pay the premium on the policy. That part shows his wisdom. I learned a very valuable lesson.
My daddy is talented in so many ways. He is an accomplished musician, playing the organ and the accordion. He tunes pianos. He sings. He preaches. He teaches. He fixes. He cuts up potatoes and rutabagas in perfect cubes. He builds. He reads braille. He types on a brailler and on a keyboard. He continues to learn. Within the last year he has learned to surf the internet with his talking computer. He's fluent in Spanish. He made such an impact in the country of Paraguay as a missionary that when we returned after eighteen years to visit, the people in the airport greeted him by name, "Hermano Rolando." It was that way wherever we went.
But, mostly what he does, is, he loves. Unconditionally.
Happy Father's Day Daddy! I am so blessed to get to call you mine!