Thomasville Times Enterprise

March 1, 2014

Someone is watching you

Mark Lastinger

— The Valentine’s Day gift bag was almost weightless, but it contained a heavy reality. Below the pretty paper at the top was a tiny baby outfit emblazoned with the words, “Little ’Nole (coming in the 2014 season.’”

That’s the creative prop that my daughter and son-in-law used to inform me that I will become a grandpa on or around Oct. 3. I couldn’t be more delighted.

Many of my friends have been grandparents for several years. I always enjoyed hearing them say things like, ‘My granddaughter is the prettiest girl in the world’ or ‘My grandson can knock the cover off of a baseball.’”

Although I look forward to joining the club of graying braggarts, my membership will come with a bit of trepidation. My aim will be to make my grandchild as proud of me as I expect to be of him or her.

Upon learning the news of our family’s blessing, my thoughts immediately turned to a poem entitled “A Little Fellow Follows Me.” My maternal grandfather kept a copy of it in his billfold, a fact I didn’t know until many years after his death in 1974. My grandmother gave me the yellowing piece of paper it was typed on shortly before she passed away a couple of years ago.

Lee Fisher’s poem, which ought to be kept at the forefront of every man’s mind, reads as follows:

A careful man I want to be;

A little fellow follows me;

I dare not go astray,

For fear he’ll go the selfsame way.

I cannot once escape his eyes;

Whate’er he sees me do, he tries;

Like me he says he wants to be  —

The little fellow who follows me.

He thinks that I am good and fine —

Believes in every word of mine;

The base in me he must not see —

The little fellow who follows me.

I must remember as I go

Through summer’s sun and winter’s snow,

I am building for the years that be

For that little chap who follows me.

If every man adhered to Fisher’s insightful words, our nation’s problems would soon shrink exponentially. I contend that a small investment of men’s time would come a lot closer to solving poverty- and crime-related issues than spending trillions of taxpayer dollars.

Quite frankly, many fathers and grandfathers are derelict in their duties. They constantly chase self-absorbed objectives, leaving their offspring to play catch-up in their quest for the American dream.

Think about it. How many children fail in school because the men in their lives show no interest in their education? If fathers and grandfathers don’t care, how likely is it that their children will?

I submit that if more men visited their sons and daughters in school, they might not have to visit them in prison years later.

It is an American disgrace and a dishonor to God that millions of children grow up devoid of role models except for the unsavory ones they see on TV and hear on the radio.

Remember, America’s children are going to follow somebody. I pray that it be men like the one Fisher describes in his beautiful poem.