This is my father.
Really, my daddy.
He was 71 when he died in September, 1998. It’s the phone call in the middle of the night that you don’t ever want to answer. Paula, Daddy died.
My mom says it was such an honor to be married to him. Soon after they married he had to go to Korea. His training was at Camp Roberts in California. Mom went out to be with him until he left for Korea. After basic training he was able to leave the camp at night and be with Mom. She said she would go to pick him up and every day when he walked over the hill towards her, her heart would pitter-pat. He was tall and handsome and had the cutest smile.
Somewhere there is a picture of my dad and his schoolmates in front of a one-room schoolhouse. He’s probably about 10 yrs old. He’s wearing overalls and no shoes. I asked him why no shoes. He only had one pair and he couldn’t wear them out going back and forth to school. Later, we went to the falling-down remains of the house he grew up in. There were no closets. He said that was ok because he could hang everything he owned on a wire across the corner of the room.
From that came a man who became president of the school board and the hospital board; who became an elder at church; who was instrumental in getting a chapel built at the prison; who worked hard to preserve county history; who worked a 40 hr week, then went after work and on weekends to build fences and take care of the cattle he so enjoyed.
He had a gentle spirit, was kind and fair, yet he had a quiet courage. When he worked at the gas plant, after he came back from Korea, he asked the men in the office to take down their girlie calendars. And they did. He was responsible for keeping candy supplied in the same office. We went to the wholesale candy store and he bought the candy. He was so honest. If we ate a Hershey bar or a Chick-o-Stick, we paid for it. He could have just taken the candy out of the box and who would have known the difference. For years he counted the Sunday contribution from church. We started collecting pennies and nickels, putting them in little coin displays. We studied all the change in the contribution bag, and if we saw any that fit into our set, he replaced them with his own money. He was a life-long student of life and continually added new interests and skills. He taught Sunday school many times. When I watched him studying, he always had a dictionary sitting beside him. When he didn’t know what something meant, he stopped and looked it up. My little eyes saw all of that.
As I got older, the lessons and generosity continued. One time I missed the bus to Midland to compete in a band event. When we drove in the parking lot and saw that the bus was gone, he just exited the parking lot and drove me to Midland. No fussing or martyrdom. He made sure I attended the college I wanted and I walked across the graduation stage with no college debt. He and mom drove to Lubbock so many times to see everything I was in. One Saturday during my sophomore year in college he and mom surprised me. When I opened the door of their car to go to lunch, I noticed a brand new white Ford Torino sitting next to the car. It had my name on the paper tag in the window. Best car ever! He went through the Dale Carnegie course when I was young, and he thought it was important for me to take it and he paid so I could go. He also paid for my brother to go and he is now paying for his daughter to go. When I would come home, he would take my car to the shop and get the oil changed for me. I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg trying to describe what and who he was, but until the day he died he looked for ways to serve me and our family. He always made me want to reach higher and be the best Paula I could be.
I was a daddy’s girl.
So Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I’m always honored to be known as your daughter.
All photographs and writing property of LoneStarLifer. 2009.