Gerry Holand, Becky Holland, former President Jimmy Carter, James Holland

Jan Williams/Photo

Editorial: My dad gave me the best gift of all

By Becky Holland,
Special to the Piney Woods News

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to work in Plains, Georgia, and interview former President Jimmy Carter several times. My dad is an admirer of Mr. Carter’s. I remember thinking one day I was going to introduce the two. That day happened two years later by chance, and my mom was a part of the adventure. It was a brief meeting, hellos and of course, photos.

After that, I remember watching my dad and talking with him about that. It was a good day. We talked about President Carter, how he looked, how he talked and even talked about some of his beliefs.

My dad was smiling that day.

James C. Holland attended ETBC in the 1950s, was ordained at Second Baptist Church and pastored at several churches in east Texas.
James C. Holland attended ETBC in the 1950s, was ordained at Second Baptist Church and pastored at several churches in east Texas.

I get teary-eyed just thinking about that day. My dad is no Captain America or Superman, but he is a pretty cool dude, and in all the 46 plus years he has been my pops, he is always been good to me (even when we fussed with each other), my siblings and my mom.

He is a typical guy, I guess you could say. My daddy will be 83 in September – he looks 70 and acts like he is 29 sometimes. He and Mom have been married since 1953. Daddy came to East Texas Baptist College when he felt called to preach in the 1950s. He also is a certified electrician/plumber/H/ac contractor – which is how he provided for us. Daddy is a Mr. Fix-It, a lover of old Westerns and learning. His favorite thing to do is go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and read boxes.

So what makes him special enough for me to contribute a whole column to him – besides the fact that Father’s Day is Sunday?

I could think of a 1,000 reasons why, but there is one in particular that sticks out primarily.  My daddy gave me and my siblings one very important thing – he gave us Jesus. I don’t think I have ever thanked him for that. So, I am using this, my last column for the Piney Woods News as that opportunity.

The Day The News Came Alive

August 23 of this year will mark the 17th anniversary of a day that changed all of our lives – especially my dad’s. It was the day that my mom was almost taken from us through a senseless act of violence.

We lived in a small rural town in middle Georgia. My parents had a contracting business. Mom was at their office. Dad was on a job. A young man who they hired to clean up around the shop attacked my mom with a brick to her head eight times – leaving her for dead.

The good Lord brought my dad into town for some reason or another almost directly after this happened. The scene he came on was almost similar to one described in a Stephen King novel. There was blood everywhere and the office was a mess. He found my mom, a pool of her own blood around her, alive, but barely.

James and Gerry Holland have been married since 1953.
James and Gerry Holland have been married since 1953.

I arrived on the scene later, and watched my dad as he responded, reacted and answered questions of the law enforcement who were there, and the paramedics.  In fact, during the whole eight weeks of Momma being in the hospital, the rehab center and the last 17 years since, I have watched my daddy closely.

Never once did my dad become filled with hate for whatever it was that happened to Mom. Never once did he gather up anger and badger the police or law enforcement for answers. Never once did he wish bad things to happen to the person who beat my mother.

I saw my daddy cry. My daddy and I spent a lot of time together during that time period. There were moments of fatigue and there were moments of frustration – natural human emotions.

But I watched him care for my mom, sit with my mom, sit in the waiting room and pray for my mom. He talked with others who had family members. He shared our story.

I remember one night we were leaving the hospital – and my daddy was tired. We stopped at a furniture store – still about 45 minutes from home. We walked in and I thought he was a little nuts. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing. He started “testing” out mattresses and invited me to do the same.

During one of our breaks from the hospital, we went to the bookstore. Our family loves bookstores. He was looking at books about brain injury – which is what my mother had sustained. We had coffee.

He would take walks around the hospital – those were his moments to cry and talk to God.

Some people didn’t understand. Now mind you, my dad was totally devoted to seeing my mom well and helping her get well, and following the doctor’s orders. The fact that my mom survived people say was a miracle.

My dad knew better. This is why he was able to take those moments. See, my dad has had Jesus at the center of his life for a very long time.

When my dad found my mom, he told me he held her in his arms, and he prayed. He gave Mom to God no matter what, and trusted the Lord. That is how he survived, that is how he helped and has helped my mom survive and what an amazing witness that was to literally thousands who watched and heard.

This is my dad’s 83rd year of life. His 46th Father’s Day as my Daddy. He also has my older brother and older sisters and seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

In all the years that we have been together, never once have I seen James Holland be anything but a good dad, a good husband, a good Papa, a good boss, a good son, a good preacher, a good contractor and a good man.

“Becky Boo Stinker Roo, straighten up and fly right,” Daddy would always say. Because my dad had Jesus, because he showed us Jesus, because he and Mom based our home on Jesus, I am able to do that.

What more could a girl ask for in a Daddy?

What have you given your child?

Happy Father’s Day!


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