Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Dad

Daddy loved to hunt and fish.  Many evenings, you could seem him casting in the yard trying out a new fishing lure.  He also loved watching baseball and football.  Unfortunately, he had two sons that didn't share his love of outdoors or sports.  My brothers were...just different.  I didn't understand as a child, but came to realize this disappointed and saddened him.

One of us kids wrote on this picture!
My Dad was already in his 40s when I was born.  My sister and I thought he hung the moon.  Our love of water skiing is a result of his persistence.  He'd pull us around the lake every chance he could.  Because his boys weren't interested in outdoor things, I think it made him even more proud that his girls were.

He worked in accounting all of his life but often said he wished he had worked outside.  Being the first born in a dirt poor family, they were so proud he was educated and worked in an office.

Daddy was a religious man.  We were at church every time the doors opened.  He enjoyed singing tenor in the choir.  He was also a WWII veteran.  Having been schooled in bookkeeping, he was lucky to be given a clerical position in the Army.  He rarely spoke about those days. On patriotic holidays, he was called upon in church to say a few words.  He could not do this without shedding tears.  I always assumed he knew things or saw things or perhaps lost friends.

I have an old scrapbook made by his mother.  He served while still a young man living at home.  From every place he went, he sent his family postcards, photos and other memorabilia.  The postcards sent at Christmastime and other holidays are particularly poignant.  Serving in the Army enabled him to purchase his parents their first and only home, albeit very modest.

A picture from the Army scrapbook.

Daddy loved Mama deeply and treated her like a queen.  No ill word, no sass, no raised voices and certainly no disrespect were allowed.  His heart problems began in his 30s and I believe he had his first heart attack in his 40s. In his mid 50s he had bypass surgery.  He took on the assigned task of walking for his health with gusto. Every afternoon, he'd walk for miles on the country roads around the house.  When a car passed, he'd throw his hand up in an enthusiastic wave without even looking.  Because you see, he also had two eye diseases and couldn't see well...but he assumed he knew them.  The bypass surgery and faithful walking bought him over 10 more precious years.

He died of a massive heart infarction on Wednesday morning, July 4th 1990 after working the day before in the yard, something he enjoyed.  I could not travel home quick enough.  I had no opportunity to tell him goodbye or that I loved him.  Mama said on the way to the hospital, he said a prayer for each of his grown children.  He knew he was dying and his last words were prayers for us.  We had just visited a few weeks prior on Father's Day.  I remember he was tickled that my sister and I hosted a watermelon seed spitting contest out in the yard.

I can't see an American flag without thinking of him as it reminds me of the one draped on his casket.  I can't hear the National Anthem and not shed a tear.  He always jokingly said he wanted to be buried in a plain old pine box.  And that's what we did...it was a beautifully polished pine casket.

His last birthday.
Our oldest son knew him for a few precious years.  He was the light in my Dad's diseased eyes.  Our other two sons never met him.  Any milestone for my children, particularly a sporting event, always made me misty-eyed.  I knew my Dad would never have missed any of it and would have soaked up every second.  Part of me knows he WAS there, in spirit.  Boy, he would be thrilled to know his 5 year old great grandson can slug a baseball like nobody's business.

One special memory I have of him was on my wedding day.  As we started down the aisle arm in arm, he paused me just for a moment so he could look me squarely in the eyes and say "I LOVE YOU".  He was very affectionate and I had no doubt he did, but saying those words was a rare occurrence.
 
He loved his wife, his family, his God and his country and fittingly passed away on July 4th.  My sister jokingly said "He went out with a bang!"  He would had LOVED that as he appreciated a good sense of humor and relished a good joke.  I still remember his laughter 25 years later.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.


8 comments:

  1. What a beautiful tribute to your dad. He sounds like he was a wonderful father. Lucky you!

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  2. This post was absolutely beautiful. He sounds like an incredible man. And I have no doubt that he would be proud of your life now :)

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  3. What a wonderful tribute. This is how we all live on--in wonderful memories like these.

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  4. Oh this just brought a tear to my eyes, such a beautifully written tribute to your sweet daddy! No doubt he is looking down with a smile on his face!

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  5. This was beautiful to read. What a wonderful man and father!

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  6. That was absolutely beautiful :) Such a touching tribute to your Dad!

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