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A Father’s Love

By Jeffry Boatright

- Courtesy Photo

As the third Sunday of June approaches, those of us fortunate enough to still enjoy the presence of our fathers have launched the search for that perfect gift. Should it be a shirt, a tie, tools or maybe a good book? What is the perfect gift for Father’s Day? Obviously it depends on the likes, dislikes, or even the vocation of the individual father, but it could be argued the best gift for dad is something that just cannot be bought. It is the same gift that he has abundantly given over the years. It cannot be found in a store, or even online. The perfect gift for dad cannot be prepared in an oven, or made with tools. The gift is simply love and is accompanied with time.

Certainly no father is flawless, because they’re human. Generation after generation, however, has looked back in awe, considering the provisions of their fathers, along with the sacrifices that dads of each generation have made. Sometimes the sacrifice was to miss a dance recital or a ball game in order to put food on the table and pay for life’s necessities. Sometimes, it has been the sacrifice of forfeiting a career opportunity just to be available to attend dance recitals or ball games. Perhaps it is the sacrifice of passing up a once-in-a-lifetime excursion to help a child with a school project, attend a birthday party or watch a church play. The responsibility of fatherhood certainly goes beyond a name on a birth certificate.

A loving, caring father is certainly an unselfish person who puts the needs of family ahead of his own. Eugene Cross refers to it as being altruistic. Anyone who has had the fortune of knowing Cross knows that the term altruistic or self-sacrificing describes him well. The Suwannee County native and father of two simply cannot contain his grin when he speaks of his son Travis or his daughter Tara and her family. It goes without saying that Cross still beams with joy when he mentions Sammie, his wife of 34 years.

Cross is indeed a man of many virtues. Through faith, integrity and work ethic, he has gone beyond just explaining or describing moral qualities to his family. His life has been an example to show the way. He is noted for maintaining the same moral principles, regardless of who is or isn’t in his presence.

While the retired state correctional officer has found joy throughout the years in leisure activities, he has never been one to leave his family behind while venturing off with friends or coworkers. Instead, he has always included his family in his interests and found interest in their activities.

Like most Americans, the Cross family of Suwannee County will celebrate Father’s Day on June 18. -Photo submitted.

According to Cross’s daughter, Tara Smith, some things never change. “He always makes time for family,” she explained. “Whether taking us to the springs, hiking, or just spending time with us at home. He always took time to do different things with Travis, myself and our cousins when we were younger. Now that we are grown, he still makes sure he spends time with us, and his grandchildren also.”

Tara admits there was never a dull moment growing up in the Cross home. “He always had some silly joke to tell, and if he thought we were bored, he would always find something for us to do. Most of the time he would let us ride in the trailer hooked to the lawn mower and pull us around the back yard. Believe it or not, we really enjoyed it.”

Always a master in finding joy in nature, antiques and the simple pleasures of life, Cross enjoys walking and riding along trails through the woods. Still nothing has changed because he includes his family in those activities. Tara also explained that he now has a boat the whole family enjoys riding in.

It is no surprise that Cross’s activities revolve around family. Family has always been his priority. “He takes family very seriously. I know that if we ever need anything we can go to him for advice. He always knows just what to say,” Tara acknowledged.

Although children grow up and start their own families, it is not uncommon for adult children from loving homes, like the Cross children, to remain close. “We are a very close family,” Tara explained. “We still go on vacations together even though we are older and have our own families. Travis lives down south now, but we still visit him often and he still comes home when he can. Family is our main priority, and I’m so fortunate our parents made family time so important.”

That family time remains important for Eugene and Sammie Cross, Tara explained. “My dad is absolutely amazing. After 34 years he and mom still have date nights. However, we usually decide to tag along too.”

The Cross family is the essence of families all across our nation. Their work ethic and commitment to family and community has been passed down from generation to generation and because of caring fathers like Eugene Cross, the moral attributes of America will persevere. In the end, the greatest gift we could give back to our fathers is the gifts they have given us, love and time.