How do you understand a man?
82 years ago today my father, D.W. Fletcher, was born. He is the original "Fletch," and, trust me, he is an absolute original. I've made a habit of writing about him on his birthday, but today I asked my mom if she would step out of her role as editor and write a post of her own.
What follows are her words which answer one single question, but which bring on more than a single tear. Enjoy!
How do you understand a man...
Who was born in the middle of the Great Depression in the hardscrabble, rattlesnake-infested wilds of West Texas, mostly shoeless, sometimes hungry?
Who grew up without his father and blood-brother and with a mom who struggled to make a living but loved him enough to teach him right from wrong?
But who had a grandfather who loved him and got up each morning to feed him oatmeal and give him the milk he had milked from his one and only dairy cow?
Who lived with relatives who viewed him with disdain (another mouth to feed and body to house)…
But who led the way to California where his life was changed, living with an aunt and uncle who loved him and took him in as one of their own, giving him a cousin who became his brother, and helping him get a bicycle and a paper route where he learned the value of hard work?
Who came under the caring but firm hand of his orange-growing, olive-picking stepfather, learning to pick, prune, smudge, drive…
And came to love agriculture, football, body surfing, Pomona High School, and Jesus?
Who took interest in a young elementary-school girl and introduced her to his church where she too met Jesus…
And joined the Navy, worked at a steel mill, became a Navigator?
Who came home to marry his “child-bride,” to finish college, father three children…
And start his career as a high school agriculture teacher?
Who still has little in the way of the world’s goods…
But has learned to love and care deeply for his family, his church, the Bible, the world?
Who disproves the theory that men have fewer words and tears in them than women and who doesn’t hear, walk, see as well as he used to…
But lives his life without complaining and with gratitude and praise?
This is the man I have known for 63 years (married for 56), and I only understand him by the grace of God.
In Rogers & Hammerstein's famous musical, The King and I, the king’s “head wife” explained her man in this way, and I’ve often been reminded of my man by these words:
This is a man who thinks with his heart, His heart is not always wise. This is a man who stumbles and falls, But this is a man who tries. This is a man you'll forgive and forgive And help and protect, as long as you live.
He will not always say what you would have him say But, now and then he'll say something wonderful. The thoughtless things he'll do will hurt and worry you, Then, all at once he'll do something wonderful.
He has a thousand dreams that won't come true You know that he believes in them and that's enough for you.
You'll always go along, defend him when he's wrong And tell him when he's strong, he is wonderful. He'll always needs your love and so he'll get your love A man who needs your love can be wonderful.
Happy Birthday Fletch!
I love you.