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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “Don’t Try to Walk before You Can Crawl” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/17/08)

TITLE: Half The Man
By LauraLee Shaw


I didn’t care if it took the entire day. I was going to pore over every single journal. It was an emergency! My wife made sure of that. Why all the pressure?

Thank goodness Mom made me write my thoughts down every night as soon as I could hold a pencil. “Even if it is just one sentence, Richard, write something down about what you did or learned today, ok?” Mom would smile and hand me some kind of themed notebook and pencil to help pique my interest.

There was the year with the Scooby-Doo spiral and matching crayon set:

May 7th, 1974
“Daddy tot me how to rid my bike off traneng weels. He told me to keep my eye on the sidewalk and sit up strat. I almos rid it 2 tims.

July 25th, 1974
“I jumpd to daddy off the sid of the pool. I crid wen he let me go undr watr. I held my breth hard. He sad I almos swim.

“If I could just be half the man…”

And how could I forget the Superman notebook with the pencil that said, “# 1 Superhero” on it when I was eight:

Jan. 3rd, 1977
We all shared our New Year’s resolutions today. Dad’s was to read his Bible and pray more with me and Mom. I wadded up the paper in my pocket and said that mine was to read my Bible and pray more just like Dad. Getting better at beating my cousin on Atari didn’t sound good after his.

“If I could just learn to be half the man he was, then….”

“Oh, my Top Secret Spy journal!!!” I grinned sheepishly while opening the bulky, black binding. “There’s some deep, dark secrets in this one”:

May 29th, 1981
Well, I really screwed up this time! Mom found the super secret stash of not so super magazines that Ted and I hid under my mattress. Dad is going to skin my bottom when he gets home. Ted brought them over….I only peeked at them a few times.

May 30th, 1981
I’m not sure why Dad didn’t punish me. He wants to take me away for a 'special weekend, just us two.’ He said he had stuff to tell me about God’s unique plan for my life—all of it—body, mind and soul. The verse he read to me gave me a lot to think about.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30. This should be interesting.

Dad went from my hero to my friend that weekend, though he always found a way to remain in authority even through my teenage years.

“If I could just learn to be half the man he was, then maybe I could…”

My fingers marveled over the weathered, brown leather journal Dad had bought me for graduation. 'Jay Richard Morgan' was inscribed right above the Mark 12:30 passage he had used to minister to me so many times. It was my treasure.

November 12th, 1988
I got a letter from Dad and Mom today. Each one wrote a special note to me. Mom reminded me to eat healthy and study hard. Dad told me to try to save some of the money that I was making at my job in the mall. He wrote this on a separate sheet of paper:

“Son, above all, keep your heart pure. Remember that God will guide you through college and through all of life if you remember what we have taught you and you continue to watch the life of other devoted Christians. And someday you will be a wonderful husband and father if you take the time to learn His ways.”

Stinging tears were flooding my eyes, and the words became blurry.

“I really miss you, Dad. You were such a great example for me.”

My wife squeezed my shoulder tenderly. “You ok, sweetheart?”

“Yes,” I muttered as I put my memories back on my shelf. “I was just getting ready to come and tell you.”

“Tell me what, Sweetie?”

I looked her straight in the eye and blurted out like a Superhero. “If I can just learn to be half the man my father was, then…In answer to your question this morning, yes—I think I might be ready to become a daddy.”

She looked relieved as she led my hands to her tummy, “Well, thank goodness! You’ve got about eight more months to learn.”

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This article has been read 961 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Tim Pickl01/24/08
I'm writing this in tears -- what an awesome, convicting story! If I could be half the man MY father was...well, I'm striving, by-the-grace-of-God, every day! Gripping narrative, from the beginning all the way to the end. This one is a home run. Gotta run. Hello... Dad? Hi Dad....How are you doing?
Holly Westefeld01/26/08
I love it! This was a very effective way to review what he had learned about fatherhood.

Some stories on FW make me cry, and some make me laugh, but rarely do any do both, and in such rapid succession.
Kristen Hester01/27/08
Very, very touching! I got chills. The ending when we learned why he was looking through the journals was precious. You did awesome. Great job. Bravo.
Patty Wysong01/27/08
I'd say you caught the panic of becoming a parent. Saving the reason he was looking through the journals was great--it added punch to the ending. Good job. :-)
william price01/27/08
The journal thing has been done many times, but you gave it such a special meaning. I mean this sincerely, very, very well done, you made an old man tear up. God bless.
Dee Yoder 01/28/08
Beautiful story about a beautiful dad. Very touching and tender. The glimpse through the years gave this story a unique flavor.
Debbie Wistrom01/28/08
I loved the desperate feel from Richard, and was touched by the reason. Keep it up.
Betty Castleberry01/28/08
This is so tender. Well written, too. The ending is just perfect.
Joy Faire Stewart01/28/08
Very touching story. You draw the reader into the reading of the journals. What a father! Excellent job on topic...one of my favorites this week.
Sharlyn Guthrie01/28/08
This is super...creative in the presentation, and right on topic. I love the ending.
Hanne Moon 01/28/08
Excellent job! Engaging story and right on topic!
Jan Ackerson 01/28/08
Laura, this is simply outstanding. I love everything about it--one of this week's strongest entries.
Sheri Gordon01/28/08
This is incredible. Love the format -- and the sequence flowed so perfectly and realistically. Definitely one of my favorites. Great job with the topic.
Sara Harricharan 01/28/08
Oooh! I love this! Another favorite of mine for this week! Your title fits in so well and I love the descriptions of the notebooks, especially the spy one, that set a whole new view on your MC. The ending was just great though! ^_^
Lynda Schultz 01/28/08
I never would have suspected the ending. Really good.
Trish Green01/28/08
I lost my father to his fight with cancer this past year. Your story made me wish that he had been half the man that he was at the end... but the fact that he got there, well... that makes it all worth while. I know I'll see him in heaven. Your story brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. Thank you.
Loren T. Lowery01/29/08
How incredibly lucky Richard was to have such a father - such an example. How fortunate he is, too that he longs to be like him. Your lineal use of time provided a great way to present your story and show the growth, development and maturity of your MC. I, too, think he will end up being a great father and role model for his own children.
Julie Ruspoli01/29/08
Amazing! Such a special message. This one needs a tissue warning. Very nice writing. Wonderful!
Temple Miller01/30/08
Wow. All I can say. It is wonderful in every way: emotionally, spiritually, in imagery... I love it.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/30/08
This gem of a story is written superbly. I love how you creatively showed the influence of a Godly parent, while you delightfully illustrated the theme. The ending is perfect.
Beth LaBuff 01/30/08
I loved your progression of this boy to man through his journal. Your title is perfect for this and your ending is excellent. Very well written!!
Beckie Stewart01/30/08
I enjoyed this a great deal. Made me miss my daddy who has been gone since May 1999.