Today is a special day to me. Yes, it’s Father’s Day, and yes, I am a father. And I look forward to seeing and/or hearing from my kids today.
But I’m not thinking of me just now. My own Father, Harlan Gene Overton, was born June 21, 1932, 83 years ago today. He’s been gone now going on 26 years; he died too young at the age of 57 in 1989. But I still think of him, and I especially remember him on his birthday.
Dad was a twin. My uncle Garlan Dean Overton also died too young, in 1982. Both twins died of cancer, just a few years apart. I’m sure my cousins are thinking of their dad today as well. Dad and uncle Garlan were not identical twins. Dad was always bigger, enough so that growing up they got the family nicknames “Big Boy” and “Little Boy.”
As adults, Dad was a fraction over six feet tall, while uncle Garlan was around 5’9”.
Dad once told me a story about a college professor of his discussing twins in class. I heard the story only once, probably close to three decades ago, so I may get some of the details wrong. But I’m going to relate it as best as I can remember it. And I’m safe in the knowledge that if my memory is somewhat faulty, Mom won’t correct me, because she doesn’t even own a computer. My siblings might, if they’re so inclined. David, Buddy and Kathy are all computer savvy and on Facebook, so they’ll see this. But here on my website (for now, at least), I get to tell it my way.
So Dad was in a college classroom at Abilene Christian College, and the professor was talking about twins. He asked if there were any twins in the class, and both Dad and Mom (they met at ACC) raised their hands. He then asked if there were any identical twins, and Mom kept her hand up while Dad put his down. The prof said that he would discuss identical twins in a moment, and then singled out Dad and asked “So Mr. Overton, you and your twin are not identical?”
Now Dad was a preacher, and not given to single word answers when a few sentences would work just as well. (My proclivity for verbosity, my penchant for palaver, had to come from somewhere. Thanks, Dad.) So he replied, “No, sir. There’s at least twenty pounds and three inches difference between us.”
That college professor, seeing before him a strapping young man that played on the offensive line of the football team, went the other way with it in his head, and blurted out, “Boy! He must be a whopper!”
That story tells you something about my Dad. He loved to tell stories (and most all of them were true). And he loved it if the story brought a laugh or even just a smile. He loved a good story, even if it meant the joke was on him. Sometimes especially if the joke was on him. This too I got from my father.
June 21st is special to me for another reason. Thirteen years ago today, one of my granddaughters was born: Alisia Summer Overton. So I’m thinking of her on this day as well, as I have for the last 13 years. (Happy birthday, honey. Have a great day. I only wish you could have met your great grandfather.)
So this is a good day for me, and significant as far as family birthdays go. Because Dad is no longer living on this earth, there is a slight bittersweet feeling to it, but mostly I feel the warmth of pleasant memories and a father’s love. And I remember what he shared with me after his twin passed from this earth. He started to speak of the loss of his brother, then he said, “Lost? My brother’s not lost. I know where he is, and I’ll see him again.” Just so. I know where my father is, and I look forward to seeing him again.
And happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there, especially to my son Larry Duane Overton, and my sons-in-law Royce Kemp and Chris Gregory.