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By Ray Willis

“Fifteen two, fifteen four, and a pair is six,” Judy stated, ever so confidently.  She had just beaten the lousy hand I was holding at our daily, after breakfast, cribbage game.


I wonder how many of you have ever played that great card game.  You know the one I’m talking about where you have to use that board with a few hundred holes drilled into it and some pegs to mark your progress. 


I’ve been playing the game ever since my first wife showed me how so very long ago.  One of the neatest things about cribbage is that it is a great card game to play for couples when no one else is around to join in.


On this particular morning I couldn’t help but stare long and hard at the solid gray board my father had made for me in the late ‘50s. It was heavy and made out of a material similar to ebonite or a hard rubber, one of the substances used to make bowling balls.


My father had put his heart and expertise into constructing that wonderful cribbage board that has been with me for almost a half century. He had intentionally made it heavy so that when I was out on heavy seas in the north Pacific the board would not slide off any table. 


Great job, Dad!  Although there were a couple of close calls, that board NEVER did slide off any table while out to sea in some awfully rough weather.  


My shipmates and I while aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bering Strait in August of ‘62 hit a monstrous typhoon. Perhaps, you’ll recall my writing about that particular storm in a former column.


Not long after that treacherous, late summer patrol most of the same shipmates and myself sailed out of Honolulu on a long, cold, and stormy winter patrol.  I don’t recall the board sliding off a table then either.  It had indeed been tested!


While entranced with memories of the long life of this wonderful cribbage board I became rather sad. 


Father’s Day had passed only a day or so ago, and I could not remember having thought of my father once. Yet, while admiring this material object, and about to incur the wrath of my wife, anxious to resume our card game, I thought how tragic that I had not given Dad a single thought and of how melancholy I felt today.


My father, although a stern, and, most often, a harsh man, did have some wonderful qualities. He could be so calm and caring at times. He was so gifted in so many ways, but his temper somehow did not allow those finer qualities to emerge and blossom.


This morning as I drove past Bethel Baptist Church in Havana, I was again struck into thinking of my father as their roadside sign with its simple message of “Honor Thy Father” struck another nostalgic chord within me.


Although the relationship was strained for most of our years together I did respect and honor him.  Right up until his death I had tried my hardest to win his approval.

Somehow, in the end while on his deathbed, I believe I had finally earned his love and respect.


Most all of us are quite familiar with the fifth Biblical commandment from God: “Honor they father, and thy mother.”  I’m also certain that most of you did your best to live by that commandment as I have all of my life.


Even though the holiday has passed I can’t help but wonder how many of you had just had an experience similar to mine, where an object or event made you think of your father, be he deceased or living, in a melancholy or nostalgic way.


God bless you, readers.