Loving A State Like A Father

Sometimes we don’t recognize how good our fathers were to us and how much we liked being around them until they’re gone, either because they’ve passed away or we’ve moved away.

This Father’s Day happens to fall just a few days before the sesquicentennial of the birth of West Virginia. That’s appropriate, in a way. Some of us feel much the same about our state as we do about our fathers.

Now, West Virginia is, in many ways, a mother to native sons and daughters – and adopted ones, for that matter. Our mountains and valleys make us feel comfortable and safe, as we did when we were babies cradled in our mothers’ arms. The land and its people nurture us, too, much like a doting mother.

But West Virginia is like a father, too – strong, independent, protective and in some ways, smarter than many other places. Think about it today and on Thursday, when we observe our state’s 150th birthday.

In a tough spot, surrounded by danger, where would you want to be? In the mountains of West Virginia.

And with your back against the wall, if you had a choice of someone to be with you and could select that person based only on where he or she grew up, how would you decide? You’d pick a fellow West Virginian. That would be enough to know.

Our state is, in many ways, like a father who doesn’t get many breaks in life – but who refuses to be beaten down. Consider the past several years, as our state was the envy of most others in keeping our budget balanced without new taxes and without slashing state services. Smart. Doing the best we can for our collective family, like a good hard-working father.

We’re independent, too. We value our freedom. No one is going to tell us how to live our lives. No one is going to cow us by accusing us of being politically incorrect. So what?

And yes, we’re compassionate. Years ago in a tourist area outside our state, I pulled into a parking lot. A panhandler approached.

I don’t always dig out my wallet in such situations. But something about this fellow prompted me to hand him some money.

Why me, I asked him. Lots of other people had pulled into the same parking lot at about the same time. Why’d he make a beeline for me?

That’s easy, he said, pointing to my car. The license plate, he noted, explaining, “People from West Virginia are more generous.” It’s a true story.

And it’s really all the reason I need – even if not for all the others – to be proud I’m a West Virginian.

Happy Father’s Day and happy West Virginia Day!

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.