It was my birthday and I was on the Officer Don Show. That was a TV show in the 1960’s with a host dressed like a policeman. Kids played games on TV in between episodes of Popeye.
They lined up all the boys and girls and interviewed us on camera. The question for all of us was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Firemen. Nurses. Teachers. Doctors. Ballplayers.
My turn came. Officer Don asked me my name. He asked how old I was. And then he asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.
“A lawyer,” I told him.
A little boy sitting near me scrunched up his nose. “A LAWYER? Why do you want to be a LAWYER?”
Without hesitation I told him. “Because my Daddy’s a lawyer.”
I didn’t know how much I would enjoy trials. I had no idea that being a lawyer would give me so many opportunities to help folks.
I just wanted to be like my Daddy.
I remember when I was about five years old. Daddy came home from a weekend with the Army Reserves. For my brother, Brian, and me he brought a gift. Army uniforms with “Ballard” above the left pocket of the jacket. I loved that uniform.Partly because I loved to play Army. But, more so, I just wanted to be like Daddy. I still do.
Not everybody can say that. There are far too many absent fathers in this world. Some fathers who are physically present might as well be absent—they never spend time with their children.
Those of us who have loving fathers have a great treasure. In the treasure box are priceless memories. For me they include Georgia football games, vacations, James Bond movies, church services, silly songs, late nights preparing for trial, lots of laughter, meals at restaurants, greasy eggs cooked on a campfire, target practice, more laughter. The common denominator is this—he spent time with me and he still does.
Flashback to June 5, 1985. It is 1:10 in the afternoon and I hear a cry in the next room. My son, David, had just been born. In later years similar cries would bring me Melanie and then Paul. The arrival of those three babies provided me with my most important opportunity to be like my Daddy.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to look far for the pattern. From the moment Daddy first put on the gown and cradled David to this very day he has again demonstrated for me how a father (and grandfather) enjoys his children. His time is our time.
This morning as I walked into the Fayette Justice Center a deputy commented that I always wear a suit, even on Fridays. Somebody said, “It’s because he never knows when he may be on TV.”
I thought about it for a while. I pictured Daddy asleep on the recliner. Riding his motorcycle to a deacon’s meeting. On the lawnmower. In all the memories, he’s wearing a suit.
Nah. This has nothing to do with TV.
Here’s a salute to all the Dads on Father’s Day. Your collective impact upon the world is incapable of measurement.
Scott Ballard is District Attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Fayette, Pike, Spalding, and Upson counties.