Dedan K. Bruner
A Tribute to Harold Stevenson
If I had to guess my father’s love language growing up, I would say it was quality time. He would spend time with me and others with care that hugged us with his presence. My first experiences with my dad really involved being his sidekick. We would spend countless hours taste testing Waffle House and Nu-Way Hotdogs, determining who could eat the most. He was the only other family member who would stop with me and eat ribs from a truck on the side of the road just because they smelled good. We didn’t just bond over food; my dad’s bowling skills provided my family with many trips across the state of Georgia at a variety of tournaments. Those experiences accounted for more life lessons than I can count, and also shaped how I value time, family and friends.
My father’s love of bowling was only rivaled by his love of baseball and football. Even in his nursing home, he was content if he had his Atlanta Braves or his Falcons on the television and an opponent for one of his favorite card games. His love for card games motivated my parents to host epic parties that I secretly observed from the stairs. I gained my love of game nights and bringing people together from those experiences. The funny thing is you wouldn’t know any of these things about my dad upon first glance. He always exuded a quiet strength and reserved his silly, competitive side for his family and his friends. You felt special being let into his private thoughts and space. It’s funny thinking about it now because I realize that I am exactly the same way. I am very competitive, love hosting good game night, and I have a small inner circle. My dad often said that everyone doesn’t always need to know what you are thinking. I have taken that advice to heart. My dad served his country with distinction in Vietnam, supported his family and even at his weakest, was always more concerned about my sister and me. My dad’s quiet strength was very apparent after the unexpected death of my mom almost 20 years ago. While his physical health quickly declined, his mind stayed sharp. He passed away five years after my mom. After his death I honored him by serving on the Board of the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee, where we worked on solutions to help aging parents and their caregivers. Through his love and strength, I found a new passion and a way to relate to others dealing with the unknown effects of caregiving and grief. I miss him every day, but I am so thankful for the time that I had and the lessons I still use today.