Lessons My Father Taught Me

It goes without saying that my father played a huge role in my life. I speak of him often at Mosaic, and his impact is ongoing. Last week, at his memorial service, my brother shared something he wrote for Dad. It was true. It was beautiful. – Kevin

“A boy needs a father to show him how to be in the world. He needs to be given swagger, taught how to read a map so that he can recognize the roads that lead to life and the paths that lead to death, how to know what love requires, and where to find steel in the heart when life makes demands on us that are greater than we think we can endure. 

 Ian Cron


Farmers are patient men. They have to be. Men who work the land know that you cannot make a seed grow or rush the rain. Farmers are at the mercy of the seasons and the soil, the heat and the cold. They are a persevering and faithful lot. Sowing and reaping. Keeping in step with the rhythm of the calendar, living in balance with creation. My father’s father was a farmer, just like his father’s father.


My father grew up on a slice of rich brown earth surrounded by trees in eastern North Carolina. He was born when summer turns to fall. My grandfather had just gotten back from walking through farm fields on a different continent at the end of the Second World War. He got married, bought a piece of land and planted tobacco. They named my dad after his mother’s brother who did not make it back from those foreign farms on the other side of the world. My brother carries that name between his first and last. Hoke is a family name. It fits my father.


My father understood the value of a hard days work and that you reap what you sow. His actions were always louder than his words. His mind was bent toward organizing and clarifying and so he pursued a career as an engineer. But, not before he followed in his own fathers footsteps to defend democracy abroad. He came back from those foreign fields, fell in love and began to sink roots in the rich brown earth of his childhood.


My father raised four children in fear and reverence. Family meals and shared responsibility marked us deeper than our hearts could know. Tough and tender, disciplined and humorous we grew up neither needing nor wanting for anything. He chose to invest in family, embody simplicity and work tirelessly to protect and provide like his father before him. We were not rich in the ways of the world, yet we were beyond wealthy in ways that could not be measured.


My father is in a different season of life now. He has lost his battle in the fields of an incurable disease. He may have left the farm, but the lessons of the farm never left him. He was a patient man. He had to be. He never rushed the rain or made a seed grow. The roots of his disease ran deep, but his joy ran even deeper. It was a seed planted a long time ago.”

-Steve Knox

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