The task was simple. 

Daddy, pictured right, asked me to do it sitting at the dinner table Saturday.

“Crank up the old John Deere tractor and back it out from under the shelter,” he said. 

The tractor is almost my age.  

I’ve never been mechanically inclined and while I grew up, and still live, on a farm, that is about the only connection I have to it anymore. 

Most of my job was to fetch the 9/16 wrench and to hold the flash light. My brother, Kennon, got all of the farming genes in the family. 

It’s been a long time, but I actually remembered how to drive the tractor. I completed the task without wrecking the tractor or the shelter. He didn’t say it, but I think maybe Daddy was impressed. 

The decals that display the gears have been long erased by time and wear. You just have to remember it. 

I remembered Daddy showing me how to drive that ‘ole Deere, and it all came back to me. 

Just like he did then, he’s stayed right behind ever since, guiding my paths and saving me from running in the ditch.

Saturday, he wasn’t right there behind me, but I remembered just the same. 

These last few years have brought challenges. After a long career with Mershon Tractor (now AgPro Mershon) he retired with lots of ideas. 

He’s mainly a piddler. He goes from one project to the next dabbling a little with this one and then moving on to another. He’s always been very handy with tools and doing things himself. He was going to garden and do some fixing up. Then came a myeloma diagnosis. Thank God he’s been in remission for over three years. 

He was preparing the same tractor for spring gardening in March when he broke his back. 

The coronavirus complicated his treatment, paired with very poor response from a couple of medical staffs. I have been extremely disappointed with a few doctor’s offices and one hospital that we have relied on for years. 

Finally, Daddy was able to have surgery and get his back repaired. 

Seeing him go through what he has makes me appreciate him and love him even more. 

Father’s Day is this Sunday and is a time set aside for recognizing a guy who is very important in your life.

I noticed the other day how his hair is almost white  and just how responsible I might be for those. (Most of the blame goes to my baby brother, though. Honest.)

I owe a lot to my father — in ways large and small.

When I was a child, he drew thousands of pictures of trains to keep me entertained. I had a tremendous fascination back then with Choo-Choos and I suppose all boys do at some point in their lives. I still do but, I decided against being an engineer when I grew up and learned there was more to the profession than just blowing the horn.

As I have matured, I appreciate more and more the lessons Daddy taught me — especially during conversations on the front porch at the end of the day.

I appreciate so much the sacrifices he made, working hard to provide for me and for my sister and brother and to keep me on the straight and narrow. He’s always been very patient and kind.

I am like him in some ways. We are both very laid back and very patient. I have part of his name. Mama says that middle name is as close to junior as I was going to get, but I suppose I am a chip off the old block.

I hope I turned out in such a way that my daddy knows he did a good job.

That is, I think, the hope of every father’s son.

I want to be just like him when I grow up.

• Jason Deal is a staff writer for The Blackshear Times. Reach him at jdeal@blacksheartimes.news.