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In The Thick of Things

In honor of June being the month that we give thanks for fathers, here is one more story I'd like to share about the formidable Hamer Family. Let it be henceforth known that the patriarch known as Perry "Pap" Hamer was a force to be reckoned with in his own right within the Hamer family. Although Fannie Lou received the lions' share of the attention, it was in fact Pap who was the reason she survived to become the activist she developed into.

Born Perry Hamer in Kilmichael, Mississippi in 1912, Pap and Fannie were married in 1944 which was the second marriage for both. When a married Fannie Lou was kicked off the land she'd worked most of her adult life after daring to attempt to register to vote, it was her husband Pap who made the decision to stay in their home and continue to raise their adopted children while Fannie Lou went to stay with friends. And if it had not been for Pap rising up out of bed one fateful September night to insist that his wife move to another friends home, Fannie Lou most likely would have been gunned down in a hail of bullets at the first friends house.

I find Pap's story fascinating because some of it mirrors my fathers' story. Both were sharecroppers in their early years, both fell head over heals in love with married women and both were strong fathers who adopted girl children. Neither were "perfect" men but they were steadfast fathers in the best way they knew how.

Life is messy dear readers and we never know how the twists and turns will occur. All men can do in hard times is to be present and stand up when the time comes. Pap was "that guy." He wasn't perfect but he was present.

When Fannie Lou was on the road organizing and speaking, it was Pap who was at home working and taking care of the girls. He was raised with only one sister but, as far as we know, he was a dedicated "girl dad" making sure that the family stayed together.

The Hamer family never was affluent by any stretch of that term but they did eventually own their home and were considered pillars of their community. It was Pap who was there with Fannie to mourn the death of their daughter Dorothy at the age of 22 and his wife's death with his daughters and grandchildren (whom they'd also adopted and he continued to raise).

Again, not perfect but present.

Oh, that we honor the fathers who stand in the gap for their wives and children! Those who smooth out the curves, clean up the messes and generally protect and provide. Those that enable wives and daughters to excel in their gifting's. What a privilege it is to be called 'father' and may each one enjoy the kudos they deserve this entire month.

Many blessings, Sylvia.

Song: "It Won't Be Like This For Long" by Darius Rucker

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What a wonderful tribute! Thank you for teaching us again!

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