Daddy worked hard all his life. He worked in the cotton fields pulling cotton to buy his older sister her senior ring. Money was nonexistent in their family. He grew up during the depression when there just wasn't any. He dropped out of school after the eighth grade to help support his mom and two sisters. That was one of his only regrets, but he made sure that all three of his children would never know that kind of hardship. He did go on to get his G.E.D. to show us that it was never too late. We weren't pushed, but there were certain things that were expected of us, with decent grades being one of them. College was made available to us if we wanted to go. Not pushed, but if it was something we wanted, he made it happen. Daddy had a machine shop in town and was considered one of the best in his line of work. He built racing engines for dirt track race cars and had a waiting list that would make GM green with envy. It's amazing to me to see industrial pieces now so hot and expensive when this was his equipment in his shop. Sure wished I had some of his work tables now!
Daddy coached little league baseball, ate fried chicken out of crepe paper decorated shoe boxes at father-daughter Girl Scout picnics, sat through countless talent shows, football games, dance and piano recitals. When I was grown and performing in American Cancer Society musicals, he always had a seat at the back of the auditorium. I can still hear his laughter above everyone else's! You see, to him I was the star!
Daddy was saved when he was 39 years old. As with everything he did, he threw himself into church. He and Mother were always in demand as chaperones for church hayrides, socials and camp trips. He was such an imp and knew how to have a good time. He taught Sunday School, R.A.s, Training Union class and anything else that had to do with the kids. He could short sheet a bed with the best of them and did frequently. (In fact, he was continuing that little trick with his grandchildren when they went to his lake cabin for a weekend!) He knew when to look the other way if a boy and girl wanted to pitch a little harmless woo...as long as the girl wasn't one of his daughters! That wasn't what made the kids all love him though. It was just his love of life and finding joy in everything and everyone. Making friends was never a problem for him. He was just naturally outgoing and had that charm that drew people to him. Easygoing, slow to anger, gregarious, loyal, quick with a comeback...that was my Daddy.
Daddy valued family. He was adored by his sisters, respected by his father-in-law and babied by his mother-in-law! I've told you that Marie was a beautician...she was notorious for giving Daddy waves in his hair, dying his eyelashes...anything to make him even more handsome...and he allowed it! Daddy was a man's man, but he loved the fuss. Now before I have y'all thinking he was some kind of saint, I need to point out some of his faults. Daddy believed a man should take out the trash, change light bulbs, take care of the cars and mow the grass. The housekeeping...that was Mother's job. Occasionally he would cook, but oh my when he did! We did love it when he went to the grocer's. We never knew what would come out of those paper bags nor did Mother, but she never said a word, just rolled her eyes!
If Daddy was sick, he never went to the doctor. His cure for everything was clam chowder. You had the flu...clam chowder. Headache...clam chowder. Upset stomach...clam chowder. Campbell's stock rose during his lifetime, he used it for so many remedies!
He loved to sing and wrote many songs...never published. He was an inventor and held several patents for things he had designed...never manufactured. He wrote a book...never published. This didn't keep him from dreaming big. David was going to be a doctor, I was going to be the next Patsy Cline and Kerri was going to marry a rich man...didn't happen! Even these little setbacks didn't keep him from dreaming or from trying to be the next Texas millionaire. That is one trait he did pass on...to dream big and try. The worst that could happen was you had to try again...so what?
My daddy loved his grand kids. He taught them all how to play hickey and took delight when they could beat him! He was there for every birth except Jenn's. He thought he had time to take a shower, but I delivered in less than a hour after getting to the hospital. He was just more than a little put out with me...like I could have waited! The kids all thought he hung the moon! Every one of them thought he or she was his favorite. If he came by to get Joey, Jenn would jump in the truck as well. He taught her how to fry liver with onions and Joey how to drive his '52 pickup. Law, how he loved that pickup! He had Joey on those back roads as soon as that boy's feet could reach the pedals.
I loved my daddy, faults and all, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him. We lost him in 1988. Daddy was only 64 and while that was way to young to leave us, I figured God needed one more toothy smile in Heaven.