Russellville man pens a fitting Father’s Day tribute
The bond between a father and a son is something that is hard to put into words for many people, especially for someone like Russellville resident Gary Cummings who had a very close relationship with his father, Lois “Bob” Cummings.
Cummings said he can vividly recall summers spent with his father and siblings at Sloss Lake fishing, swimming and enjoying the simpler things in life.
“That place means so much to me because of the memories we made there when I was growing up,” Cummings said.
“We had a lot of fun out there but I also learned a lot about a father’s love for his kids and the sacrifices he makes for them.
“I don’t know that the swimming and all that were necessarily daddy’s favorite things in the world to do, but he went out there with us because he knew we loved it and he loved to see us happy.”
Over the years, Cummings said he witnessed many instances where his father made sacrifices for his family and never thought twice about it, but Cummings said he didn’t realize at the time just how much his father did in order to be the strong and supportive person that he was.
“Growing up I never fully knew just how lucky I was,” he said.
“I thought that everybody had great dads, but that’s not always the case.
“We were extremely blessed to have the family we had and the parents we had, and you just don’t comprehend something like that until you’re grown and have your own family and know just how hard it can be to be a parent.”
Cummings said that having his own family and now watching his children go through life’s difficulties as parents made him even more appreciative of the man his father had been.
When his father became sick and eventually passed away on Nov. 9, 2011, Cummings said the loss of someone so close to him was a difficult burden to bear, and he wasn’t quite sure how to get through it.
“When daddy was passing away, I just couldn’t actually tell him goodbye,” Cummings said.
“I kept thinking about all he had done for me and all the memories we had made, and all I could do at that point was to just start thanking him – thanking him for being the kind of father he was and the kind of man he was and for what he meant to our family.”
In the weeks and months following his father’s passing, Cummings said he never could get all those thoughts of gratitude out of his mind.
“It just stuck with me until I finally decided to get it all down on paper,” he said.
“Six months to the day that daddy passed away, I was working in my yard and the words just started coming to me in the form of a song. It took me about three or four days to get it all written out, but it was an important part of the grieving process for me to get all those feelings down.”
Cummings is no stranger to writing songs. He said he started writing songs when he was a still a kid and even put out a gospel record in 1968, so expressing himself in that way was something that came naturally to him.
“When I got the song written, I never intended it to be something that other people would listen to or care about,” he said. “It was just something I did for me.”
But all that changed after several people listened to the song, including some guys who were helping Cummings on a different recording project at the time.
Cummings had been working with local artists Kerry Gilbert and Hugh Banks on a song that is set to be released at this year’s Watermelon Festival, but on a whim, he thought he’d do a cut of “Thanks Dad,” which is what he decided to title the song.
“When we were working on this other recording, I thought ‘Why not go ahead and get that song recorded, too, so that I could have it,” Cummings said.
“When I first wrote it, it was just for a guitar, but we ended up getting Donnie Carpenter, who is a renowned violinist from the Shoals area, to help out on the project and it turned out great.”
After working on the song on and off for almost a year, the song and accompanying video was officially published to YouTube on Tuesday.
“I really appreciate Kerry, Hugh and Donnie for investing the time in this that they did,” Cummings said.
“This is not a hit song, but it moves people. I never thought it would touch anyone but me or the members of my family, but people listen to it and think about their own parents and what they meant to them.
“I’ve had several people tell me how emotional it was for them to listen to, and I’m just glad it’s moving people and making them think about how grateful they are for their parents because that’s really the whole point.”
Cummings said he still hasn’t told his father goodbye.
“I know I’m going to see him again,” he said.
“He and my mother taught me about the important things, about family and love and God and church – those life lessons that stay with your forever and that really matter.
“My daddy was a man of God and because of the things he taught me, I know I’ll see him again someday. That’s just one more thing I have to be thankful for.”
For those that want to listen to Cummings’ recording of “Thanks Dad,” it can be accessed on YouTube by visiting http://youtu.be/rNCO5x5mzeU.