10 years Later … Remembering our final conversation

10 years Later … Remembering our final conversation

By Wane A. Hailes 

Dear Father,

It’s been 10 years since we were able to celebrate Father’s Day together. The years seem even more difficult now since both you and Mother are gone.

Now that both of you have gone, Scoop, Tonya, and I, although we have always been close, have grown even closer. Not a day has gone by that we haven’t communicated with each other by phone or text.

Tonya has a ritual of group texting us every day at 7 a.m. She’s like the mailman. Rain, snow, sleet or hail, I can set my watch by her. We encourage and lean on each other, realizing we are your legacy and that it is up to us to carry on.

This past weekend, I was reminded that although you are gone, you left behind some great memories that I will treasure forever. Such as memories I have of you walking me, as a child, to the bathroom at night. Instead of leaving my feet on the cold wooden floor, you placed me on your feet as we walked.

How about when I got in trouble and Mother told me she would tell you what I did when you got home? She sent me to bed early and I couldn’t sleep. I was scared to death of what you were going to do to me when you arrived. As I heard you come into the room I faked sleep hoping you wouldn’t wake me. Unfortunately, you did, but instead of whipping me, you told me to holler as if you were, as you beat the bed with your belt instead.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw you cry. It was the night Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. We watched the nightly news with Walter Cronkite, and you broke out in tears as they showed his “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech from the night before. I cried because you cried.

When I graduated from college and came home, you expected and insisted that I get a job with Charlottesville’s parks and recreation department. When I told you that I was moving to Kansas City, MO, because I wanted to work for the YMCA, you were upset with me and we didn’t talk for three months. I remember the day I was scheduled to leave and Mother asked me if I had told you I was leaving. I told her no and she said to talk to you. I walked into your office to tell you goodbye. You asked how I was traveling and I told you I was taking the bus. You told me if I waited until the weekend you would buy me an airplane ticket. That was the day I believe you accepted me as a man.

I will never forget the time when I started my career at the Linwood YMCA in Kansas City and bought my first car: a 1979 Chevrolet Chevette. It was a manual drive, and I didn’t know how to drive it. You flew out from Charlottesville, VA, to drive it off the lot for me and taught me how to drive a “stick” over the weekend. 

You were here with me at the Liberty Theatre on March 25, 2005, when I had the official kickoff of this newspaper. 

Finally, my most treasured moment is the phone call I received from you on the afternoon of Sat., April 5, 2014. I remember it as though it were yesterday, mainly because you had never called me out of the blue like that before. For the next hour, we talked and laughed and laughed and talked.

Before you hung up you asked me when I was going to preach my trial sermon and I told you never, because I have fractured too many of the Ten Commandments and I don’t think the Lord would want me in anyone’s pulpit. That’s when you said, “You know, Moses had a stuttering problem, Samson was a womanizer, Noah was a drunk and David was a murderer. Son, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” I’ll never forget those words. Again, we laughed, and you hung up.

The next day, Sun., April 6, when Tonya called me to say you were gone it was bittersweet. I was hurt but happy we had an opportunity to talk one last time.

Thank you for the precious memories you left with me. I will treasure them forever.

Your son,


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