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Remembering Elisha Atkinson


Aaron Atkinson

Loving, honest, trustworthy, dependable, faithful, and reliable - these are words family and friends use to describe Elisha Eugene Atkinson, Sr. If I had to describe him in one word, it would be leader. I try hard every day to think of things my dad told me or advice he gave me, but it was not the things my dad said daily that made me who I am. It is what he did everyday that made me into the man, father, and husband I am today.

Elisha grew up at a time when things in America were still segregated and though I know he experienced some discrimination and racism growing up, I never heard him make a single negative comment about anyone. He would always say, “There will be those that are against you, but as long as you have God on your side, no one can shake your foundation.”

Elisha would get his training and demeanor from his father, my grandmother told me, and at age 80 he had never smoked, drank, or tried any illegal substances.

He set the mould for who I would become. At age 27, I still have 53 years to parallel his never drinking, smoking, or using any illegal substances. I pride myself on this, and I hope that this will set the mould for who my daughters become one day. Knowing that my dad went his entire life not doing any of these things made it easier for me to say no when they were offered to me.

He always told me that out of his three brothers, he was the only one that was allowed to drive his father’s car because he would always bring it back full of gas. You see, Dad always thought about others, and he made sure that all his children understood this concept as well. Dad was not just a leader in our home; he was a Sunday school teacher in his church for 50 years; many congregation members adopted Dad as their father too.

“Lead by example.” I would hear this statement time and time again at numerous leadership and management trainings I would attend during my years working retail. I would not fully understand this concept until my oldest daughter was old enough to talk. I recall sitting at my desk working on my computer and the application I was working in crashed, and the Windows ‘blue screen of death’ came up on the screen. I pounded on my desk and screamed, “Shoot!” It was at this time that my three-year-old daughter came over to me and shouted, “Shoot Daddy, shoot!” I looked her in the eyes and realized what impression I had just made on her and what I had just taught her through my actions.

I do not ever recall a day in my life that I saw my dad upset. Even as I sat in front of him at the age of 17, telling him that in 9 months I was going to be a dad with one year of high school left to go, he always had a way of looking at the bright side of things. Even through discipline he would teach you a lesson about life and what it took to be successful in life.

My dad was a man of God, and there was no separating God from my dad. You see, God was as important to my dad as any of his children or family members, for through God all was possible, as I would hear him say often as we sat at the dinner table or in the living room watching TV. The lessons Elisha learned through the teaching of Jesus Christ would be directly applied to his life and his way of living.

Three years ago I got married and moved away from my grandparents’ home, and since then I have been trying to prepare myself mentally and physically for the day my grandmother and grandfather will be called home. I know there is no real way to prepare for the loss of a loved one unless they have been dying or mentally ill, and even then it is hard to deal with, but I always thought if I readied myself by knowing it is going to happen, I would be able to handle this loss.

On October 5th 2004 I received the news that would change my world forever. It was this day that Elisha Atkinson was called home to be with his maker. It was here that I found out all this preparation was in vain, as the pain and separation anxiety I felt was indescribable; however I also found out how much Dad prepared me for this day. I specifically remember him saying, “When I am gone from this place, do not cry, for I am gone to a better place, live right, and you too will join me as we return to walk with our Father.” Once I got over the initial tears, sorrow, and realization that I would never see him again on this earth, I remembered the last time I saw him we shared (as I made sure we always did) a hug, a kiss on the cheek, and the words “I love you.”

Dad always taught me that, “Tomorrow is not promised.” So, with this I knew that every day I was able to spend with him was a blessing, and knowing everything I have learned from him has allowed me to lead my children down the same path he lead me. Though my father said many things that made me who I am, it was the things he did every day that showed me how I should live.

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