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Opinion

My Dad


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Jun. 18, 2022 - 12:17 PM

My Dad

Dr. Steve Cothran lives in Newnan and has been a Baptist youth pastor for over 30 years.

Do you want me to pull this car over?

This weekend we’ll celebrate my dad’s 90th birthday.

We’ll gather with family at the retirement community where my parents moved last fall and we’ll hug, eat, and laugh about the past—especially the shiver of fear that freezes rowdy station-wagon vacationers when Dad’s head whips around and he shouts, Do you want me to pull this car over?

Of course, our foolishness brought us to the brink with this question, but the four of us boys weren’t foolish enough to think we might be pulling over for an ice cream cone.

Lest you get the wrong idea about the birthday boy, however, it’s usually a cousin who laughingly reminds us of that time Uncle John pulled the car over on the way to the beach…

Based on my childhood obnoxiousness, I smile and nod to the probability that this actually happened, but it has long since faded into obscurity.

This weekend we’ll reflect gratefully on 9 decades of a life well-lived. We’ll recall Sunday lunches around my grandparents’ table and picnics down on the farm.

We’ll ask him to tell us again how his 4-year-old self snuck into the choir loft one Sunday and made the choir director leave to fix his broken wagon.

And we’ll be reminded how this depression-era kid found his calling when he realized if he bought 2 candy bars for a nickel he could then turn around and sell them for a nickel apiece.

After college and the army, he began selling real estate and soon realized that he could sell even more homes if more were available, so he formed another company and began building the houses too.

I drove through one of those subdivisions today, and they have stood the test of time and remain some of the finest residential neighborhoods in Greenville, South Carolina.

Someone recently asked me, “I thought your dad was on staff at First Baptist Greenville?” I replied that he’d been everything but the pastor there, having served as a Sunday School teacher, RA leader, and at some point has been either a member or the chair of almost every committee they’ve had over the past 64 years.

Meanwhile, he also found the time to teach his sons how to: balance a checkbook (GenZ ask grandparents what this is), fish, bale hay, waterski, drive a stick, have integrity, serve others, and love your wife (not necessarily in that order).

Along the way, we went to the beach, the mountains, to Europe, and even on a Chevy Chase-style cross-country vacation in an RV! And he was having so much fun that he never threatened to pull over in that RV once.

Nowadays, noise-canceling headphones and personal video screens bring such peace to backseat beach trips, there’s virtually no need for Dad’s fearful phrase anymore.

But thanks for pulling over with me for a moment on this trip down memory lane.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Dr. Steve Cothran lives in Newnan and has been a Baptist youth pastor for over 30 years.