All to the Credit of My Father


Not that we are grown, we all know how influential our parents are to our lives and success — the good and the bad! As a child, my father influenced my life. He was the first to criticize and punish me when I misbehaved — and there were many times I misbehaved. I was a bit ‘too independent for my own britches…’ I asked too many questions. I danced to my own music, and wanted to do things, “My Way!” 

I suppose you get the picture. Whenever my grandfather said that women belonged in the home, and I might as well give up on my dreams to sing, because I would grow up to marry a mill kid, since I lived in a mill village and that was what all the girls in Bibb City did. My reply, “I think not…I’ll never marry a mill kid!” 

Heck – I would not date a mill kid, or a high school boy! Living in a mill village I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, I would break away from Bibb City. And I did. Yes, I was a feminist as a child!

But — this isn’t a story about breaking away from Bibb City, or my life as a feminist. Today is a reflection on Father’s Day and how my dad guided my way. I was eight-years-old when I recall writing my first story. A teacher assigned the students to write a story about science fiction. Since we were studying the planets, I chose to write about Saturn. The title was “My Visit to Saturn.” 

Never did I realize I had a talent for writing until my dad went to the PTA meeting. The science teacher approached my dad about my story, telling my Dad I made an A+. “No big deal,” I said…”I always make an A.”

Months later, I came home from school. My dad greeted me at the door, carrying a magazine. “Barbara,” he said, his voice stern, his eyes bright. “Look at this magazine. Your story is in it! At the age of eight-years-old, you are a published writer!”

I glanced at the magazine, saw my story, and tossed the magazine on the couch, cluttered with laundry for me to fold. Till this day, I do not recall what magazine published the story. I was a child…it didn’t matter to me that I was a published writer at such a young age. I had bigger dreams. I wanted to sing on stage!

Years later, when my dad was frail and wasting away from his battle with esophageal cancer, his eyes opened as I sat next to his bed in the nursing home. “Barbara,” he said, his once boisterous voice barely a whisper. “Do you remember your first published story – “My Visit to Saturn?”

I laughed. “Oh Dad, that was such a long time ago.”

“Yes, it was. Do you remember it? I still have it.”

“Yes…that was such a stupid story!”

Dad smiled. I touched his freezing cold hand. My mind was elsewhere, as Father Time slowly ticked away for my precious father.

A few days later, my dad died. Losing him felt as if someone had pulled my heart out of my body. How could I live? How could I breathe? How could I enjoy the sunset, and the robins without my dad?

Somehow my life continued. In September, 1999, I decided it was time to sort through my dad’s belongings. The many scrapbooks. Diaries. Picture books. Sorting through the many pages, I opened a section that appeared to be a bit thicker than the other booklets. 

Folded in half was a stack of notebook paper. I opened it, noticing the handwriting of a child. “My Visit to Saturn,” I read. Oh my goodness. This is my story. My handwritten story. How did Dad get this? Why did he save it? Oh my goodness. Tears streamed down my face as I read the story, Dad had treasured it. He saved it — all these years later, and I had the first story I had written, all to the credit of my father.

I still have that story. Friends have said I should preserve it, maybe frame it. My first story – published!

All of this is to the credit of my father – Walter Perkins. He believed in me when no one else did, and throughout his life, he still believed in me. Happy Father’s Day to a man who lead me down the path to become a writer. 

Happy Father’s Day in Heaven, Dad — thank you for saving and preserving my first published story, “My Visit to Saturn!”

“Stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit…
It’s when things seem worse — you mustn’t quit!”

Published by barbiepc

Barbie Perkins-Cooper is a talented award-winning writer of screenplays, plays, and travel stories and she works full-time as an editorial photojournalist. Barbie has published numerous articles and award-winning photographs for regional, trade, health and beauty, hospitality and travel publications including the Travel Channel, Buick B Magazine, AAA Midwest Traveler, Kentucky Monthly, Southern Hospitality, Blue Ridge Country Magazine, Convention South and Texas Co-op Power and New York Daily News. Her passion for food and hospitality began when she worked as a communications officer, public relations officer at Johnson & Wales University in 1988. Residing in Charleston, South Carolina, Barbie is the author of Career Diary of a Photographer, and Condition of Limbo. She has written seven screenplays, and has a passion for screenwriting, hoping to see her name in the credits of a major motion picture. In September 2007, she was chosen as an approved artist for literary arts with the SC Arts Commission Arts in Education Roster of Approved Artists. Professional organizations include membership with International Food and Wine and Travel Writers Association [IFWTWA]; American Society of Journalists and Authors [ASJA]; Society of Professional Journalists, Editorialphoto.com, and South Carolina Writers Workshop [SCWW]. Visit her web site for further information and writing clips or e-mail her at barbiepc@bellsouth.net.

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