A Tribute To My Dad…
My dad, James Richard Gryder, Jr. went to be with our Lord this morning. Some people struggle with understanding God as a loving father, because of the relationship they had with their own dads. That was not the case with us, our dad was the most loving and caring man I ever knew in my life. He often helped people who were less fortunate even when things were a little tight for himself. I have helped him deliver groceries to people who were struggling, or buy gas for a family so they could go home for Christmas.
Dad was one of the most faithful men I have ever known. Faithful to his wife, his family, his friends, and his church. He loved his kids and those he and mom pretty much adopted as their own. All of our friends called them mom and dad as we got older. Some would even come see them even if we were not home. He loved his grand kids and great grand kids. He worked the goody out of his grandsons while still spoiling them and he loved and spoiled his granddaughters. He had them with with them every opportunity he could… at home, in the camper, or at the cabin in the mountains.
We never missed church. Mom and dad both saw to that. When we moved, they looked for what church they would go to as they looked for a house to live in. I even have a letter that a pastor wrote to my dad's mom when my dad was in the Army complimenting dad on his faithfulness and service to the local church near the base where he was stationed. His pastors always knew he was someone they could depend on. When we were young we had what they called “cottage prayer meetings” in our home as a ministry of the local church. When the church started sponsoring kids in a children's home not too far way, mom and dad not only took Christmas and birthday presents, but took Ruby on family vacations with us and later as a teenager, she moved in as my foster sister until she married a couple of years later. Dad walked her down the aisle.
Growing up, I was with my dad at every opportunity. I jokingly refer to growing up in a Halliburton pickup. Back in the day, before all of the regulations, if I was not in school I was with dad in the oilfield. Even began to drive on dirt roads in that pick-up when I was nine years old. The boss asked dad one time, “You do take over driving when you reach pavement don't you.?” Dad told him that he did and the boss said, “OK, be careful.” I thought I was going to get in trouble, but it did not happen that way. I remember one time when a rig hand came and grabbed my foot when I was sleeping on a cot in the back of the pick up because it was almost time to cement the oil string. I told him he needed the guy in the cab and not me.
We got to talk about rabbit hunting and fishing the day before he died. He also talked about when I played baseball as a kid. He said that I asked him one time if they always made me play short stop because I was shorter than the other kids. He told me no, it was because I wasn't afraid of catching grounders and I could throw to first base. Ha! My grandsons would like that story.
We built barns, car ports, patio covers, metal buildings, and a cabin together. We dug cellars, work on cars, and poured more cement than I care to think about together. He was one of the hardest working men I ever knew and I would bust a gut and go home tired because I was bound and determined to keep up with him as best I could. Dad taught me the value of hard work, a man's word, and to keep my bills paid so my credit would be good. And he taught me how to help others. Sometimes the only thing you might have was the respect of others and that would get you through.
One of my most cherished memories was of my mom and dad reading the bible aloud to each other. My room was across the hall as a kid, but even as an adult stopping in when traveling through, each night when dad was home I would hear him read the bible out loud before he went to sleep.
He may not have been perfect, but he was close enough for me. See you in heaven, Dad.