"All real fathers want the best for their children.
When life works according to script, it’s not uncommon for dads to throw their chest out and say to anyone within earshot: “That’s my boy or that’s daddy’s little girl.”
In some father-son / father-daughter relationships, the reverse is sometimes true.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a big reader of books despite my love for the printed word. My dear mother—a career librarian—continues to remind me the only books she’s aware of me every checking out of the library was the “Bully on Barkham Street” and a few “Curious George” titles.
So it was with slight trepidation and eventual delight that I cracked the cover on a fresh soft cover, non-fiction about a local man who I had heard of over the years from a man who happened to be his son and a person I consider my friend. If I were asked to describe the author or his wife, I’d simple reply, “They’re good people.” And by the way, they are.
Randy Eubank’s first stab at writing a first-hand account of his father’s trials and tribulations of inventing things starting in 1956 for the sole purpose of making life easier for others, isn’t so much a tome of his Jones County father’s various patents—Furney Eubanks has five registered in Washington, D.C. Patent Office-- and his close encounters with reaping monetary rewards for his creations and near stardom before national television audience but rather a narrative of a proud son using his father’s perseverance as life lessons for all of us who encounter obstacles, challenges, false hope and rejection.
Lord only knows real life lessons taught by someone who lives among us is one of the most powerful learning tools in the quiver life’s arsenal.
The book is titled “My Dad: The Smartest 7th Grader on Earth” and brings the reader face-to-face with two generations of Eubanks man: Randy, approaching a midpoint of his life and his dad, Furney, who has now seen most of his life through the rearview mirror with less years in front of the cart then behind but continues to take on new challenges to make his or someone’s life a bit easier.
Furney Eubanks was many things to many people. He was a servant of God, a patriot and World War ll veteran and an inventor with the patents to show for it.
Eubanks writes in simple prose throughout the book and brings forth an image through the pages about a time when things were much simpler. He divulges his father’s attempt to crop tobacco more efficiently to methods by which to roll paint onto a home. It becomes obvious after a few pages that Furney’s mind was always thinking about making things easier.
People who live in Eastern North Carolina.
Even Yankees such as myself will get a kick out of Furney’s tenacity and his ability to handle rejection and move on to the next idea. Isn’t that what makes America great and reinforces the motto “American Ingenuity?”
What is evident in this 155-page tome is that Furney was a father.
And Eubank’s love, admiration and respect for his pop becomes abundantly clear since the author dedicates more than 72 pages of the book describing a road trip to Tampa in 2007, when his dad was a spry 80-year-old, and himself by his side resulting in neither man returning home with the prize they had sought but instead achieving a greater trophy: the unwavering bond between a father and son.
Some men never know their children. And that’s sad. Not only for the offspring and mother but the man, too. Fathers on the other hand not only know their children, they take responsibility for their needs providing sustenance, love and protection throughout their lives yet sometimes some dads never really get to know their own kids. Maybe it’s job-related reasons, hobbies or other distractions that lessen their time with their child that before they know it, they’re grown and living on their own—Cue up Jim Croce’s “Cats in the Cradle” song.
The trip to Tampa kept the son and father together for six days on the road and having the boys share a motel room, a period of time that’s easy to take for granted but one that would never be forgotten by the two Eubank’s men.
“Daddy admitted something about that trip to Tampa,” Eubanks writes reflecting on their trip to the Sunshine State to audition for a national television show called the “American Inventor.” Eubanks continues: “As the sun was going down over the fields in front of his house, he told me that was the first time he’d been south of Myrtle Beach and that trip meant a lot to him.” Eubanks pondered what his father had just said and took a sip of his iced tea and replied to his father, “It meant a lot to me also, Dad.”
Whether by chance or design, Eubanks use of metaphors such as the setting sun over the fields in front of his father’s home to paint the picture of a man in the twilight of his life confessing the enormity that trip had on his life, is spot on and very poignant.
Furney’s dream—like many fathers—was to provide for his family and to patent an invention that would parlay into fortunes for him to leave to his children after his passing.
Furney never attained monetary fortunes as he had hoped—measured in dollar signs, numbers, commas and followed by lots of zeros but rather his progeny inherited something even more valuable as Eubanks lists in the book’s final pages.
Furney Eubanks passed away on May 1, 2018, at age 91.
Eubanks says his book about his dad is a collection of “life lessons on how to overcome disappointment and to strive to be the best we can in the face of opposition and obstacles. The only person you have control over is yourself. You can control your next thought, move and plan of action.”
Now, that’s some great fatherly advice. And there’s a lot more tucked inside Randy Eubank’s ode to his dad, “My Dad: The Smartest 7th Grader on Earth,” available on Amazon.com or wherever great books on fathers are sold.
To learn more about Furney , the author and to go behind the scenes of “My Dad: The Smartest 7th Grader on Earth, logon to www.randyeubanks.com.
Columnist Mike McHugh can be reached at 910-219-8455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org."