Sunday, June 21, 2009
I wasn't going to write anything about dad for Father's Day. He died in 1996 at the age of 92. The photo of my dad and his family was taken in the late Twenties. He's the second from the right on the back row. Dad was born in 1903. He had two brothers and five sisters. Mom always said that his mom and sisters spoiled him before she ever got hold of him.
We always told mom that she had a whole bunch of stars in her crown for putting up with him. Dad was ornery as dirt, loved cornball jokes and puns. He was a church-going man and would, upon occasion when we were back in Tennessee for family reunions, give a Sunday sermon at a little old backwoods church. He taught Sunday school for many years and was a member of Methodist Men's Club for longer than I can remember.
Dad and two partners were Phillips 66 jobbers since the mid-Thirties. Dad and mom got married in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1930. He and mom then made their home in Okla. City, Oklahoma,and started their family with the birth of my oldest brother in 1931. He went to college at John Brown College in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and that was where he and mom met. He was four years and a couple of months older than mom and he was so full of mischief, always cutting up and teasing whenever he was out of class. He worked at the dairy at the school to help pay for his education in accounting.
Dad was also a stubborn, quick-tempered butthead. He and I clashed more than once from my teen years on. This man that would read the Sunday funny papers to us kids to try to keep us clean until mom got dressed and we headed for church would tan our heinies if we stepped out of line on one of his bad days. I have the patience of Job compared to my dad. Mom said we locked horns because we were so much alike. Man, I hated that! But I will confess to fighting a hair trigger temper all my life. I don't ever want to hurt somebody with an angry torrent of words.
That hurt more and stayed with me longer than any whipping I ever had, and I had more than one and all were well earned.
My dad loved taking us kids to the wrestlin' matches at the Stockyards Colisuem in south west Okla. City. He enjoyed taking us and grandkids to the Okla. City Zoo. Dad was not athletic, but he and mom both encouraged me and my younger brother in whatever sports we chose to persue. He never griped at us for digging a hole in the yard to make a kicking tee for a football and he would play catch with us some when we were little and it just fascinated us that he could throw right and left handed.
The only two times I ever heard my daddy swear was once at me and the other time was because of me. It was hard for me to go to sleep and consequently it was difficult for me to get up. Both times had to do with me not getting up and ready to go to school on time.
All this has been an exercise for me to try to put down mostly the good things that I remember about my dad instead of goin' on about the things that still make me angry. In a lot of ways he was a good example for us kids and others growing up. He loved my mom and was faithful to her for 62 and a half years before she died. He loved all us kids and very much enjoyed having a large family. He and mom mourned my oldest sister's death for 40+ years after she died when she was 23 years old from a brain hemorrage. He was totally fair with us kids when time came to divide up our inheritance, including an equal portion for my oldest sister's 3 children she and her husband had before she died.
So here's to you, dad. It was the best I could come up with this year. Maybe next year I'll have buried a little more of the anger because I really don't want to carry it around anymore. I'll just leave this with a little poem that daddy taught me when I was small...
Roses on my shoulders,
Slippers on my feet.
I'm my daddy's darlin',
Don't you think I'm sweet.
After which mom noted in my baby book I'd always say, "Uh Huh!"