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Remembering Dad's watchcare

How do you know things are going to be alright? Well, as a small child, I knew everything was okay when Dad said it was going to be okay. And as I grew, he never let me down. He was a protective father. I trusted him.

As a young man of sixteen, Gene Edward Edminson stepped from the docks of New Orleans, walked through the door of the recruiting office, and joined the Air Force.

Dad joined as Cold War tensions mounted and USSR aggression loomed larger than mere threat. The Korean War had begun and recruits with the aptitude found their way into fields of emerging technologies. Dad was assigned to the Strategic Air Command and served as a communications specialist. He had top security clearance and worked behind tightly guarded entrances deep in fortified bunkers behind barbed wire fences on the Pacific island of Guam, encased in concrete bunkers adjacent to the B-52 bomber airfield in Thailand, and buried in the side of a mountain along the Spanish coast.

I remember waving to him as he passed from sight into the darkness beyond curtained barriers. I knew my father’s task was to keep secrets that kept people safe, and I understood that role because that’s what he did for his family, too. Dad stood at the brink, in the gap, safeguarding all in his watchcare –– our own lighthouse.

There is something quite grand about lighthouses, standing at the edge of wave-battered rocks and sending life-saving light to guide seafarers then and now –– the ocean’s traffic signal. Few structures speak of safety and security in the face of challenge and adversity the way the lighthouse does.

My family’s rambling stories are almost legendary. Mom had picnic baskets loaded and maps highlighted, and as soon as Dad came home from work, downed a restorative mug of coffee and small snack, the family set off on sightseeing tours along the mountains and coasts of our temporary homes in Europe, rivaling the von Trapp family traipsing the wild beauty in spring and summer. Even when the family moved stateside for the final time, Mom’s outings took us to the must-see places near wherever we lived.

One of the world’s oldest surviving lighthouses stands in La Coruna Harbor, Spain. Its name is Tower of Hercules, built in the first century, still operating today. The landmark is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, attracting visitors from around the globe. I like to think my family was among those who visited the ancient Roman lighthouse on the Atlantic Ocean during my childhood Spanish years.

As the youngest of the family, my experiences are linked to the photos that captured the events, but I can tell the stories as well as anyone, drawing on those conversations and memories surrounding our big screen views as the carousel clicked through slides bringing our past into our living room. Since Mom operated the camera, Dad figured largely in the scenes, the hero of our adventures, usually holding one of us and hugging others of us as we posed in front of countless sights.

The Psalmist writes: “The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.” He continues: “The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” In my earliest years, I understood such watchcare and stalwart protection because my father demonstrated that devotion. His stature soared like that of a lighthouse signaling safe harbor.

Today, the sight of a lighthouse reminds me of the faithfulness of my Heavenly Father. He keeps a lookout for danger, navigating me to safest harbors. And when asked if everything is going to be okay? I know, despite the storm, the Lord God keeps watch, both now and forever.

Homeword is written by Jim Edminson, Charity & Children Editor

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