Tomorrow would have been my Daddy`s 87th birthday. November 20, 1928 was the day he was born.
Wow… Hard to think what he would have been like had he lived to be the ripe old age of 87.
He would have spent a life time in his woodshop. I have no doubt of that. He loved to create things with his hands. He built Mother a new bedroom set one year. He built a beautiful curio double shelf to hang on the wall. I can`t remember now if it was for my grandmother or her friend, Louise. They did everything together and one of them had bought the curio to have and Daddy copied it to give to the other one so they would have the same one.I now have one of them, sprayed silver, wonder what he would think of that!!
He built Anne and me a little hutch one Christmas for our dolls to sit on. He taught Billy how to use his machines to make wooden candlesticks one year. He would have made the grandchildren so many neat things. But he never had a chance to meet them.
He died when I was 19 years old, just three months after he walked me down the aisle to give me away at my wedding. He was only 45 years old. Cancer…. it came quick and it didn`t last long, his fight with cancer was short but he won the battle in just three short months.
He was the best Daddy ever. I am sure every little girl says that about her Daddy but I really mean it! LOL!! He loved big. He loved Mother so big and good. He treated her like a queen. They had the sweetest love story, mapped out in boxes of love letters he wrote to her as they were apart before they married.
He loved us girls, and always , I mean always, he expected us to love and respect mother. He didn`t tolerate anything less. He taught us not only by words but by example. He was kind. So kind to everyone. He helped take care of Mother`s mother and her grandmother. He helped take care of his parents, as they got older and his sister, Gail. When his Daddy died, he stepped up to the plate and was literally the only man on holiday get togethers with a room full of ladies!
He loved sugared grapefruit rinds.!! My grandmother would make his some every Christmas and give them to him in a tin can, all to himself because no one else liked them!
He loved to eat boiled okra! He would slurp those things down, as Anne and I would watch in disgust!!
He put grape jelly on his grilled cheese sandwiches.
He put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on his bowl of cereal.
He finished our big unfinished basement and made a bedroom for our princess Anne to live in with her own bathroom. He made him an office downstairs, with two desks so Mother could work down there with him as his secretary…
He was a deacon in church.
He sang in the church choir.
He would sit us on the second row , left front, at church, every time the church doors would open.
He drew the house plans for our house we grew up in, and also he drew the house plans for our family friends, Wilson and Dee Hamilton.
He would wear hand knitted vest that Mother made him for Christmas, and liked them!
He was a self taught photographer. He took all the family slides and we loved to have slide shows to watch them all.
I am not sure what she bought with them, but Mother saved her dimes all year long, in a little silver bank, to buy him a Christmas present. He always loved whatever it was, not because of what it was but because it was from her.
He cried when our baby brother was born. Mother loved to tell that story!
He loved us well. We were not rich, but we had everything we always needed. He was sure of that.
One of my favorite memories was our trip out west to Colorado. We had a little white ford, no air conditioning and it was summer. He bought some kind of air conditioner that you had to continue to fill it up with ice to get it to blow cool air out. LOL… sounds like the olden days for sure now that I am thinking about it. He would stop at the gas stations and fill the tank then put the bag of ice in the car!!
He made a table that connected to the trunk for us to picnic on. Mother made the tablecloth, and the three of us would eat out behind the car. Princess Anne, of course, would have her lunch in the car. No picnic for her. There might be bugs or flies out there and she would have none of that!!
He would take us to Atlanta to shop at Rich`s while he worked. We would pick out Villager wool fabric to bring home for Mother to make us skirts for Christmas.
We would ride to the Eastwood Mall Shoneys on special occasions to park outside and order their famous strawberry pie.
He let me have my bridesmaids spend the night before my wedding day.
He held my hand the whole way on our drive from our house to the church, on my wedding day. He, in the drivers seat, and me in the passenger seat. I can still see it now, he reached out to get my hand, no words said. Just a sweet, sweet time between my Daddy and me.
He cried at my wedding. But so did I. We made it down the aisle, and then life happened quickly.
He was sick weeks before my wedding. He had lost weight and wasn`t feeling good. But there was so much to do, he said he would go to the dr. afterwards. He did go, and they put him in the hospital for surgery. Cancer, they said. The details are not so clear in my mind now. I remember blood transfusions at the hospital. I remember going to see him on my way to work in the mornings. I remember him coming home and being in a hospital bed in his room. I remember the night I got the call. Tom was working that night and we only had one car, so I called his parents to come pick me up to take me home to see him.
But by the time I got there, there were other cars in the driveway. Our pastor, Charles Carter, was there with Mother. As soon as she opened the door, she hugged me to tell me he was gone.
At 19, I felt so little. So young, so naive. My sweet Daddy, who I thought would live to grow old with us, was now gone to Heaven. All I knew at that moment was that I was his little girl and I wanted my him back.
Billy was only 8 years old. He didn`t have a lifetime to be with Daddy, only 8 short years. He needed his Daddy too.
Anne was living in Atlanta, so she came home the next day. The next days were hazy as I try to think back. The funeral home, the cemetery . I do remember Mr. Newberry singing, “How great thou art.” It was Daddy`s favorite song.
We all missed him. I remember us saying that God must have thought he was tired from taking care of so many women his whole life and He needed him more.
As the years have come and gone, memories get a little faded but the love he had for his family and the love he lived out in his life, the love he had for Christ, will never fade from my memories. I am thankful today, I think even more now than then, that God gave him to me and my family. We did indeed have the best, not near long enough, but for the years we had him, those were the best.
Happy Birthday Daddy. I love you!!!