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Never Let an Opportunity Pass…

Updated: Dec 25, 2021

Daddy was the greatest. He never told me no or ever told me something wouldn’t work. The answer was always, “You never will know if you don’t try. Never let an opportunity pass you by. Pray about it. You will always have a home to come back to.”


The Reverend Doctor J.W. (yes, folks initials only) Threatt was an amazing man. He never met a stranger and, for that matter, never shied away from a challenge. Many say I have his character and personality. I can tell you that I wish I were a quarter of the human being my Dad was to so many.


He pastored four churches simultaneously, worked a full-time job at BellSouth (which would go through many name changes), and helped raise a family of four children - ages from 13, 10, 3, and SURPRISE…there came me with all the hair, chubbiness and fearlessness to go with it!

J.W. Threatt with daughter Martha, 1970

I was Daddy’s shadow; wherever he went, I was right on his heels…listening, observing, and trying not to “get in the way.” But I was inquisitive; others call it nosey. Whether he was talking to a deacon or another minister, there I was with my ears perched and mouth shut. And I dare not insert myself into adult conversation.


This was my first glimpse into leadership. He was engaging and carefully listened as others talked. Daddy would be stern whenever he responded but flexible.


Much of his time was spent at church, church activities, or with church families who became family. But during those few times, my siblings and I had him to ourselves; it was something magical.


Daddy worked second shift. When my sister, Cathy, figured out how to call him at work…it was endless. Because I was little and didn’t know quite how to dial the number, big sis would always come to the rescue. It got to the point where Daddy told us not to call unless we needed something. Now it didn’t come with any caveat…only if we “needed” something. So, I got savvy with my requests. I ordered everything from Big Macs and fries to watermelon and chocolates, especially chocolate turtles. But all I wanted was to hear his voice.


Daddy always came through. I listened hard to hear the front door open around 10 pm. It didn’t matter if it was a school night; daddy was home. On those nights, I would sit with him at the kitchen table as he ate his late dinner. My 5, 6, 7, or 8-year-old self would ramble on about how I spent my day, purposely missing the details about me getting into trouble.


Now, I realize how tired he must have been. Yet, he sat there as he ate dinner, listening to my every word and would ask a question every once in a while.


This was the beginning of my love for food. In my mind, he looked so lonely eating by himself, so of course, I joined in. This moment was much more than just about eating. It was about spending those few moments with him before momma made me go to bed.


I also remember Cathy and me sitting by the door as he practiced his sermons on Saturday nights. To this day, I’m not sure he knew we were there listening attentively. So Sundays, we both knew what he was about to say. But there were many times the Holy Spirit tricked us…or me at least. I would sit in the pew and think to myself, “he surely didn’t say that part last night.”


All these interactions and more have helped mold me into the fearless person I am today. I had a manager ask me, “Is there anything that scares you?”


My response was, “My Dad told me the only thing I should fear is God. So no, I’m not afraid cause Daddy told me not to be.”


Yes, I am confident, have character, and yes, I am fearless…but not like the Reverend Doctor J.W. Threatt. I work every day to live up to his standards. I miss our talks, drives, and sitting around that same dinner table chatting much about nothing. However, I have memories and his legacy that will live on.


This week in honor of the holidays, I will write about all those who have made me who I am today. Some have left us, but it’s important to reflect and remember, allowing their legacy to live in ourselves and others.


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