John Warley believes in the importance of protecting his children. He jokingly refers to himself as "the high sheriff" when he talks about keeping his family safe.
The Beaufort resident fondly remembers a nighttime ritual he started many years ago after being separated from his wife for more than a year. During the separation, he desperately missed being able to say goodnight to his children. So after he and his wife reunited, Warley began a new routine. Every night he would walk down the hallway and pause for a moment at each of his four children's doorways to make sure they were safe.
"Being able to do that reinforced the value of it," Warley said.
Warley wrote about his trips up and down that hallway in an essay he submitted several years ago to the public radio show "This I Believe." Based on a 1950s radio series of the same name, the new "This I Believe" ran for a few years on National Public Radio.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Island Packet
The show now airs on "The Bob Edwards Show" on Sirius XM Radio. An international organization, "This I Believe" encourages people to submit essays to be featured on the radio, in books or online.
Warley had forgotten about the essay until he got an email last year from the organization, asking if they could publish it in a new book about fatherhood called "This I Believe: On Fatherhood." He agreed, and the book is now for sale online and in bookstores across the country.
It features 60 essays about dads that were chosen from the more than 90,000 submitted to the show over the years.
"It's nice to have been selected," said Warley, now a retired lawyer. "I was particularly pleased to be associated ... with a collection on fatherhood. As a father of four kids, this has been a big part of my life."
The book isn't Warley's only experience with writing. His novel "Bethesda's Child" features a preface by his good friend and best-selling author Pat Conroy.
Warley is currently working on his fourth book -- a historical novel set in Beaufort during the Civil War.
Warley and his wife, Barbara, have come a long way since those nights he spent patrolling the hallway. The couple will celebrate their 40th anniversary in December. They might not have four small children at home anymore, but they do have four grown children and five grandchildren to protect now.
Looking back on his role as "sheriff," Warley is happy to say his kids are still safe and sound. A line from his essay, "Lingering at the Doors," says it best: "I believe in the moments I lingered outside each door, reminding myself that it is not just fire, or storms, or highways that can harm a child."
Now he says, "It's the threat to the stability of the family that in my view can harm a child."