Single dad did it alone; This Father’s Day he is recovering

Published 12:01 am Sunday, June 17, 2018

Even with his recent cardiovascular troubles, 70-year-old Charles McCranie’s heart beats just as strongly for his family as it always has.

McCranie, who last week had a pacemaker installed to aid his congestive heart failure, is recovering just in time for this Father’s Day, much to the delight of his son, Brandon McCranie.

Brandon still thinks of his dad as “Big Charlie,” his own personal man of steel.

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“He’s like the best superhero,” McCranie said. “He’s flawed, but somehow he manages from will and good deeds to rise above the flaws — the everyday flaws of the average man. My dad is a real superhero.”

Brandon noted the popularity of superheroes in today’s day and age, especially given the prolific Marvel franchises that seem to put blockbuster after blockbuster on the silver screen. But back in the day, Brandon said, Charles McCranie was the real deal.

During the 1970s, Charles discovered a passion for bodybuilding. A power-lifter who prided himself on gaining his strength the right way, Charles became one of the strongest people in town. In Brandon’s eyes, no one could hold a candle to his father.

“My dad was the biggest guy in town, no lie,” Brandon said.

Brandon even said his muscle-bound dad and uncle once received an offer to become professional wrestlers as a tag team.

The offer marked the opportunity of a lifetime, but Charles had more important matters to tend to — his children and his job at Armstrong Rubber and Tire Company.

“He could have done it and he could have put us with our grandparents or whatever,” Brandon said. “But he didn’t. He stayed here and worked at the tire plant and was a dad and made sure we were taken care of.”

Brandon’s mother died in a tragic accident when he was just 9 years old, leaving Charles as the lone parent to care for Brandon and his other two children, Kassidy McCranie and the late Jeff McCranie.

When it came to providing for his children, nothing else came first for Charles. Despite Charles’ macho personality, Brandon said his father had a soft spot for children.

“Over the years, he was the epitome of a Mr. Mom,” Brandon said.

Brandon said he remembers his father largely for being selfless, at times going without if it meant his children would not. Not only was he the provider for his children, but he was also tasked with guiding them through life and teaching them how to be good people.

In that regard, Brandon recalls learning important lessons about how to treat others. He said his dad specifically explained the importance of treating everyone equally, no matter race, class or creed.

“Just because of the color of a person’s skin should not be a deciding factor on the type of person they are — he taught me that early on in life,” Brandon said.

Brandon said values were a cornerstone of he and his siblings’ upbringing, but the life Charles has led has affected more people than just his own family.

Charles also coached youth sports and was known as “Coach Charlie” to many of Brandon and Jeff’s friends. One of those men is Andy Yates, who stood in for Jeff as a groomsman at Brandon’s wedding.

“He was a good coach, but he was like a second dad as well,” Yates said. “He was just a really good guy.”

Along with his own father, who coached alongside Charles, Yates said he learned the true importance of work ethic and still sticks with him today with his job as a district manager at Waste Management.

“Being a part of a team, it took hard work to win,” Yates said. “Definitely, that translated into my professional career as a law enforcement officer and my profession now.”

Charles led by example, including by taking his children to church.

Even today, Brandon said his dad still reminds him to pray consistently. With Brandon recently entering marriage for the first time to Kyndall McCranie, he has also become the stepfather of 5-year-old Jace. Now that Brandon has a family of his own, he said Charles reminds him how important a role prayer plays in that bond.

And speaking of bond, Brandon said his father’s relationship with his grandchildren — Jace and 16-year-old Skylar (Brandon’s sister, Kassidy’s, child) is unlike any other.

“He’d do just about anything for those two,” Brandon said. “I thought he loved us, but real love is the love of a grandparent for the grandkids.”

Now, the lessons Charles taught will be passed on through his children, as Brandon credited any and every of his positive character traits to his father.

Thursday, as he stood in the intensive care unit following his father’s successful surgery, Brandon said the moment brought on memories of all that his father had done for him throughout their lives. As Father’s Day approached, Brandon said he wanted everyone who had the opportunity to call their fathers and express their love, because no day is guaranteed.

“Hug your dad. And if you don’t have a dad, come hug mine,” Brandon said. “He would love to see you.”

Though he might not be the big burly bodybuilder of the ’70s and ’80s, Charles is still a superhero.