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Hooper: A simple lesson from dad — being there matters

When we stood in front of the Majik Market next to Tallahassee's Capital Stadium, or outside the Jake Gaither Recreation Center, the car always arrived.

My father never failed to show.

When I get together with my childhood friends these days, they always remark about how my father drove us to and from dances and games during our early high school days. After working all week as an art professor at Florida A&M, he still found the energy to chauffeur us.

Looking back, I took his kindness, his gratitude, his very presence for granted. Only later in life did I come to realize what those simple acts of kindness came to represent.

But I do remember those rides.

When we made our way to the event, he often told jokes — really corny jokes — that we had heard a thousand times before.

He never failed to make us laugh.

When we arrived in his Plymouth Valiant, with all the style of a Flintstone mobile, we asked that he drop us off down the street — so as not to ruin our cool.

He never failed to oblige, no matter how silly the request.

When he drove us home from games, we often listened to broadcasts of CBS Radio Mystery Theater. My dad mixed in stories about the good ol' days.

He never failed to entertain.

When I got my license and began to drive, the timing proved perfect. My father had a stroke months later, and he never really recovered. Even in his challenged state, he helped fund my college dreams.

He never failed to support.

Of the many lessons I learned from my father, the biggest is simple: Being there matters.

In all things, my father never failed to show.

That's all I'm saying.