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  • Jeffrey Mason

I Am My Father’s Son and That is the Way it Will Always Be


I am Tommie Louis Mason’s son.


For fifty-five years, he has been my Dad and I have been his son and that is the way it has always been and will always be.


My Dad and I were how I imagine many fathers and sons are.


Combative. Critical. Conjoined.


You are a boy wanting to be a man and your father is the example and the way.

And sometimes, in the way.


You follow for a while and then one day, you start to collide.



You are men, so too few words are spoken and not enough feelings are shared.


I was so sure I knew exactly who my Dad was. I knew how hard he worked and how big he dreamed. I knew he wanted better and I knew he could survive anything.


God, he was passionate.


He would find something, become excited about it, embrace it, and before you knew it, he was completely one with it.


When people ask what my father did, I never had a simple answer.


Tommie Mason did so many things!


The occupations he conquered are a list. Radio show host and salesman and photographer and television repair and cross-country truck driver and NASA and radio installer and hospital maintenance and grocery store manager and wood craftsman and golf club maker and more.


Looking at that list may make you think he couldn’t stay in one place, but you would only say that if you didn’t know Tommie Mason.


My Dad lived a life of curiosity and action. There was a cycle to it. He would have a job and he worked hard and did whatever it took to be successful.


But he would always have a hobby, a passion on the side.


My dad loved his hobbies. He would buy a million books and learn everything there was to know. He would work and learn and his hobby would creep and spread and before you knew it, he had turned it into his new profession.


He would eventually become the best in the world at it and meanwhile, he had a new hobby on the side.


And the circle would continue.


I have always marveled at his ability to renew himself and the bottomless quest he had for better and knowledge and action. My dad was a learner and a doer.


An interest in photography became cameras and tripods and lenses and the construction of a dark room in the garage and endless weekends shooting award-winning photos and becoming President of the Dallas Camera Club and that eventually led to him becoming a professional photographer.


An interest in wood crafts became band saws and sanders and designs and the construction of a shop in the backyard and then owning a woodcraft business that produced gorgeous meticulous works of wood art that people eagerly gave away their money to buy and other businesses copied.


My Dad dreamed and learned and did.


But never think he wasn’t devoted. That man has loved my mother for almost fifty-six years of marriage and a few additional years of courtship before that. He fell in love with Donna Niles the moment saw her.


Photography and acting and wood crafts and music and writing and golf clubs and furniture and houses. My dad built and my dad created.


Just like I do. Just like my kids do.


He was an artist and so are we.


I knew all of this, but I ignored it, my vision hazed by emotion. My personal blocks kept me from knowing him, and in doing so, I kept me from knowing myself.


I have come to understand that this is one of the tests of life. We all have people who occupy our hearts in a way that challenges us. The instinct is to push them away, but in doing so, you lose more than you gain.


Forgiveness is the gift we give ourselves.


Today is the day we have always known was somewhere on the calendar. The ravages of dementia and Alzheimer’s has him leaving the home he loved and moving to what we all hope is a place where we can get back some of the sparkles of Dad.


Maybe the right medicine, maybe the right miracle.


Maybe.


I have so much fondness and so many regrets. I wish I had been quicker to understand. I wish I had spent more time learning. I wish I had just found the time to say, “thank you” and “I love you” a few more times.


I wish I had spent more time seeing how in so many ways I am exactly like my Dad.


Take the time to forgive and understand. Being human is hard and none of us gets it right.


Saying “thank you” and “I am just like you” and “I love you” and “I understand” changes you and it changes them. Don’t waste time and don’t tell yourself you will get around to it.


Life exists for just a moment.


I am Tommie Louis Mason’s son.


For fifty-five years, he has been my Dad and I have been his son and that is the way it has always been and will always be.

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