By MICAH HENRY
Jamie Mecimore Smith is proud of her father. Enough so that she poured her feelings into a compelling, winning entry in The Times’ 2022 Father of the Year Essay Contest.
Jamie, age 38, of Stony Point, is the daughter of David A. and Darlene Mecimore, of the Wittenburg Community. Jamie said her dad’s strong work ethic and determination inspire her — and her brother, Josh, nine years her junior — to be their best.
From her days in school, to playing ball, to taking a CNA class in high school, to tackling a nursing degree in college, David was always there, offering help, encouragement, and advice.
“He worked more than one job; he sacrificed for us,” Jamie said.
As a parent of two children now, Jamie understands the balance of work and family. She and her husband, James, have two children: Ella, 7, and Anderson, 2.
Although David, 62, worked hard (and still does), he made family time a priority, and he included his children’s friends in activities, too. He worked long hours in furniture as an upholsterer, but was still a big kid at heart around his children.
“Sunday afternoons, Dad used to get up a flag football game with all my brother’s friends in our backyard. He played countless hours with us in the pool or on the lake, driving the boat while we skied, knee boarded, or tubed. He liked to get up a group camping, rafting, or some kind of outdoor adventure. He was the ‘fun’ dad that everybody liked hanging around,” Jamie wrote in her essay.
Whether it was loading up the family for a camping trip to the beach or down to Carowinds, David knew how to make the free time memorable for the kids. Wiffle ball, balloon volleyball, sleepovers, these and more were fun times in the Mecimore household.
Jamie said she recalls numerous times of riding four wheelers on the trails behind her childhood home in Wittenburg.
Often, when going on a boating trip, Jamie would help load and unload the boat from the trailer into the water at a boat ramp.
And, if something broke, David was handy with a wrench and could step in to fix it.
In sports, David brought Jamie up to be a Dallas Cowboys fan, too.
David encouraged Jamie to attend college, and helped provide the way for her to go to Gardner-Webb University to pursue a nursing degree. Now, she is helping others as a result, through her work as a nurse at Catawba Valley Medical Center.
As an only child, David continues in caring for his family, especially for his mother, Helen, since his father (Bud) passed away recently.
But the next generation is coming along, too.
Anderson shadows his grandfather everywhere, Jamie said: on the golf cart, the side-by-side, riding mower, the boat. Anything that’s moving that Pappaw is on, that’s where little Anderson wants to be.
And granddaughter Ella is old enough now to be taking tips from Coach David, just like her mom did a generation ago.
These and other traits observed in her dad prompted Jamie to write the essay, which she said took the better part of two weeks, off and on.
David was surprised by the Father of the Year award. “I’m so humbled by it. I almost feel guilty, because there’s so many fathers out there I feel would deserve this.”
But his argument won’t have any sway with Jamie. To her, “dad” is Father of the Year, every year.
Jamie’s Winning Father of the Year Essay:
Growing up, I have such wonderful childhood memories involving my dad. If there was a ball involved, I played it! From basketball games of “CAT” or “DOG” and playing “Around the World” to “Balloon Volleyball” across my parents’ bed. Of course, softball ended up being my favorite. My dad coached my team until I started middle school. He had the patience to teach, the drills to make it fun, and the attitude to motivate you to succeed. I wish I knew the countless hours he spent with me practicing in the yard and on the field, using his free time to help me do my best. Until I became a parent, I never realized how tired he must have been afterworking all day but he never told me “Not today” or “Maybe tomorrow.” He ALWAYS made the time.
As the years went by, he supported me at ail my games cheering me on and maybe giving the referee or umpire a little bit of a hard time. He taught me how to drive, work hard, and never give up when it gets tough. I could count on him for anything: locked keys in the car, flat tire, broken door, advice giver, you name it. When it came time to move into college, guess who helped me carry all my stuff up and down those flights of stairs to the very top floor all 4 years? Dad! He even made an extra cushion to go under my futon, causing jealousy among my peers on campus.
Mine and my brother’s friends love my dad. He never meets a stranger. Sunday afternoons, Dad used to get up a flag football game with all my brother’s friends in our backyard. He played countless hours with us in the pool or on the lake, driving the boat while we skied, knee boarded, or tubed. He liked to get up a group camping, rafting, or some kind of outdoor adventure. He was the “fun” dad that everybody liked hanging around. My house was where everyone wanted to hang out, and I know that’s partially due to my dad and mom making them feel right at home, providing plenty of snacks, and a safe place to have fun.
Now that I am a parent of two great kids, I not only have the best Dad around but my kids have an amazing Pappaw! When my daughter was quarantined and asking for a happy meal at 10:00 p.m., he showed up at our doorstep delivering just what she wanted, even though he had to be up early the next morning for work. My son is his shadow, following him around everywhere he goes, and when something breaks, he always says “Pappaw fix it.” He takes them swimming, plays in the yard, and rides them around on anything that has wheels. I can count on my dad and mom to help me out when I can’t be there to take the kids to practice, pick them up from school, help with homework, and even put them to bed. And just like he did for me all those years ago, he’s outside teaching the skills and putting in the practice to help my daughter get better at ball.
I’ve watched my dad all my life put his family first, make sure we are all taken care of, and then place our needs before his own. My dad is truly my hero. I am so thankful for the example he and my mom have been to me in loving God, being faithful, giving to others, and encouraging me to pray for wisdom and guidance. I hope these words have distinguished how amazing of a dad I am blessed with and I thank God for giving me him for my dad.
— Jamie Smith, Stony Point, NC