I am My Fathersí Son: A Tribute to Dad

Administration and Operations Columbus Avenue Baptist Church
I was a sophomore in high school in 1971 and the summer before I started school I passed Drivers Ed and got my driverís license. Little did I know at that time, it was the start of twenty three years working side by side with my dad! Our family owned a retail auto parts store in Corpus Christi, Texas. My sold auto parts for as long as I can remember growing up. At one point in our family history, my entire family worked at the retail store: my dad and mom, my two sisters, my brother, and now myself. You see, as soon as I got my driverís license, my dad put me to work driving the delivery truck for the auto parts store. I worked every Saturday during the school year, then all week during the summer.
My dad was very well known in the auto parts industry as one of the most honest business owners and with high integrity. Sure he had his faults, but George Cadden was a great business man. After I graduated from high school, dad put me to work full time. I still lived at home and we rode together every day to and from work and went home for lunch every day to momís cooking. Dad not only gave me a job, but he taught me the art of owning a business. I worked my way up like anyone else would from delivery driver, to counter sales, to store manager. All along the way, dad was teaching me skills.
He was amazing at customer service and taught me that, more than anything else. Almost every customer that came in the store knew my dad by name and would buy some parts, then chat with dad for a few minutes. His sales philosophy was ďnever lose a saleĒ. He went to great lengths to find the right part to fill every order. If we didnít have it there on hand, he would always offer to locate the part and have it for pick up later that day. Employee turnover in the parts store was very low because my father was the best boss ever. I heard that over and over and witnessed it firsthand. Dad was a hand- on business owner and did all the ordering, worked the sales counter, and handled the general business operations.
We had a great routine that we performed daily for ten years. Dad would get the coffee going and open the back warehouse up and I would count the money from the day before and get the change drawer ready for the new day. At opening time he would flip on all the lights up front and would unlock the front door. Ready for business! At closing I got to lock the front door, he flipped off all the lights, and turned the coffee pot off, and would pull the money and hide it in the parts bin somewhere until the next morningís counting. We did the same thing like that for ten years together! We worked side by side from 1971 until 1981 when my father decided to sell the parts store and retire. That was a very emotional time for him and my mom and me. Thatís all we knew and was our lively hood for so many years.
Dad retired and we sold the parts store and all moved from Corpus to Arlington, Texas. My brother and his family lived there and we loved the climate and the different terrain from the beach we knew so well. I started my own business from that point. During the first several years in my new business, selling auto parts of course, my business grew exponentially. I needed help and where else would I find the right personÖbut my dad. In a flash he was there working for me now and we were selling parts together again only this time we sold wholesale to garages and dealers. We were a great team and I was utilizing the skills my dad had taught me as a young man. We worked another 5 years together until I sold my business to follow Gods call on my life into full time ministry. My dad once again retired and in 1986 I started seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
My dad would have preferred to work until the day he passed away in 2000. He was a worker, a teacher, a father, a granddad, a husband, a family man, an uncle, a Deacon, a people person, a friend, a helper, and a follower of Christ. He was a simple man with lots of laughter and fun in him. I donít remember a time where he raised his voice to me growing up. The one thing even today that my dad and I have in common is cars. My dad had his share of cars and loved tinkering with them and making them shine. I do the same today. I am my fatherís son!
Itís now been fourteen years since my dad passed away and yet the memories of him are as vivid as ever. Why is that? I believe that my dad instilled into me that family is so important. Itís not about what you can get in life; itís about what you can give. My dad would literally give the shirt off his back if you needed it. He invested in family and made that his priority. Those vivid memories I still have are of all the family vacations we took all over the place, all the family reunions we attended, all the barbeques in the back yard my dad cooked, all the games we played together, and all the house projects we did together and how he taught me handy man skills. He knew I would get in trouble at times growing up and when I messed up, he disciplined me then loved me through it. He knew when I was broke and would always slide me a $20 or $50 bill from the hidden place in his wallet. Those are the dad things that build vivid memories that last for eternity.
Disclaimer: Although this article is about my dad and me, my mom was just as important in our family and the same holds true for me today. My wife is a critical in our family.
Fast forward to the 90ís! We were raising three great kids during that time. Little did they know that I was doing the same things the way my dad raised me and they turned out to be three of the most respectful Christian adults you can be around. As my kids grew up we took family vacations all over the place, we attended family reunions together, we barbequed in the backyard all the time, we played games and cards at home a lot, and watched endless movies together as a family. When my kids were broke I would slip them some cash from my wallet just like my dad did, when they got in trouble they got disciplined but then we loved them through it all, and we knew they would mess up so we just prepared ourselves as parents.
Fast forward to 2005-2014! Two of our three kids have kids of their own and are raising them the same way my dad raised me and we raised them. They do lots of family vacations, watch movies together, go to the park, grill in the backyard, and make family a high priority. What a legacy my dad started back in the 60ís as I was growing up. He made family a priority, I made family a priority, and now my kids are making family a priority! I can only assume that my dadís dad did the same thing with him growing up.
I greatly miss not having my dad here with me coaching me along lifeís journey. If I had one more time with him I would tell him, ďDad, you raised me so well. My childhood was fun because of you. I became a businessman just like you taught me. Dad, I slipped my kids some cash when they were broke just like you did to me. I see now why you did it when their face lights up. And Dad, I took my family on long vacations just like you did with me and our family. Dad, my grandkids call me PaPa just like you were named by your grand kids. Dad, thank you for working with me side by side for 20+ years teaching me to be the man I am today. I miss you dad!Ē
If you are a dad, please know that you are so important in your family and can make a huge difference in leaving a lasting family legacy. If you are a dad and estranged from your family, start the reconciliation process today. If you are a dad and family is not a priority, you can change that today by removing those things that hinder you from being dad. Whatever it takes, be the dad.
Rick Cadden
Associate Pastor of Administration and Operations
Columbus Avenue Baptist Church