I didn’t know how lucky I was growing up. I thought just about every teenage boy had a good relationship with their dad. It was years later when I realized not every boy got a hug or heard “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” from their dad.
From the time I first remember anything, my dad has been my best friend and role model. I couldn’t have been more than a year old when he gave me my first basketball and football. He taught me how to shoot ball, how to throw a football and how to be a young man. Later he taught me how to drive a car, how to change the oil and how to work hard. He gave me everything a boy needed. $20 bucks for a date (back then that’d be dinner and a movie and gas), late night hoop sessions after a game, a car, college tuition, downpayment for a house and love for my wife and his grandkids.
James Wayne Tucker Sr. shares his name with me and my son. In high school and college everybody called us both “Tuck”. He gets that more than I do these days.
He’s the hardest working man I’ve ever known. When I was a kid he’d work 5 days with the state highway department as an engineer and then Saturdays at his mom’s store. He didn’t go to college and I think at some point he felt a little embarrased by that. He worked his way up from the side of the road cutting grass to the Chief Maintenance Engineer for the Highway Department’s Division that oversees most of north Alabama. Truthfully, that made me more proud of everything he accomplishes.
He’s a lot like George Bailey from “It’s A Wonderful Life”. There’s not a person in my hometown who doesn’t know, like and respect my dad. I like to think I get my people skills from him.
I also get my sensitivity from him. Trey and I both get teary-eyed when we have to say goodbye to friends or look back on good friends and times. Put all three of us together and it’s like looking at a timelapse picture of the same person.
I always wanted to grow up to be like Wayne Tucker. In some ways I think I did. But I’ll never be as good at helping people, at fixing cars and houses, at gardening. And I’ll never be able to love my wife and kids more than he loves me and my sister and my mom.