Salute to my Father….on Daddy’s Day
June 17, 2011

This was on my sister's wedding day...so proud!

He was a pretty quiet man, not by any standards loquacious….he never hit me or my three sisters(that I remember), he never raised his voice(though his looks could mean business), and he loved a good joke.

That's him on the right...I looked just like him as a toddler...

He was one of three boys… never went to college….finished high school in Birmingham Alabama, and after coming home from WWII, went to work in his own back yard. I mean that literally, American Cast Iron Pipe Company was a block down the street from where he grew up…a street that was gritty from the cinders that flew from the furnace that melted and molded cast iron pipe. He worked there until he retired…..over 50 years at one company….can you imagine?

In World War II, he, like so many others, enlisted after D-Day….he and my Mom married quickly…(hey, it was war-time and why not get a little lovin’ in before who knows what happens!). He traveled all around the world as an M.P. My Mother told us a story when we were adults(my Father would never mention such a thing) about when my Dad was stationed in India….he passed by an alley in Bombay, in which a soldier had his fly open and a little Indian boy was……to use the proper term… fellating the soldier. The boy had tears running down his cheeks. Some MPs might have looked the other way…hey, a war is on and this is trouble I don’t need…but not my Dad. He arrested the guy and threw him in the brig, pronto. Good on you, man.

A man and his Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses....

Some of you may remember this wonderful picture of my parents,  and the story of my Dad and how he obtained  his beloved Ray-Ban aviator glasses from this prior post….the pic was taken on the shores of Lake Ponchatrain in Louisiana where he was stationed…and my Mom followed and worked at the airfield. I love that story.

My Daddy guarded this plane....

And perhaps because he was such a straight arrow(?), he was one of the men who guarded the famous, or infamous Enola Gay airplane…which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. He and his squadron were flown to the tiny island of Tianan in the Pacific, from which practice and the real runs were staged. My Dad had no idea what they were guarding, or what was so special about the plane at the end of the runway, all by itself…they only knew NO ONE was to get close to it. I never knew how he felt about being indirectly related to an event that killed so many people. I wish I had asked, but there it is. I didn’t. And he wasn’t one to speak of such things.

He came home…still a simple guy who went to work every day, raised his kids, put all three of us through college, never left us and was a good husband…did pretty much everything my Mom told him to :)….and he loved fishing and swimming in his beloved Smith Lake. He died of Parkinson’s Disease, certainly not the way any of us would have chosen for him, nor he for himself… but he was pretty stoic about the whole thing. I only remember him saying once, “I can’t even wipe my own butt“.

Here’s to you my Father…lots of men could learn a thing a two about service, about loyalty, about kindness, and about being a dad, and a man. He got it right, all the way to the end.

Hope all of you celebrate your dads this weekend….especially those who deserve it. Call him…take him out to lunch…let him know you love him while he’s still around. Make it a great day and come home safe…’cause we miss you!

Back in town….
December 15, 2009

Can I just say one more thank you to all of the kind replies from many of you…and thanks for the good thoughts sent my way as well. Several of you said my blog made you cry…well, some of your words made me cry too.

It was a long week that flashed by last week….any of you who have dealt with the death of your last parent, knows all the stuff that has to be wrapped up. The final downsizing of someone’s life….and there was still soooo much stuff that had to be donated/given away/taken home/put in my baby sister’s attic(sorry Jan)…finalizing of the estate, closing accounts, etc…..it’s just a mountain of details. We found we had to keep making lists of what had to be done… right now and what could wait for later. It’s then you know the value of siblings. Really, I cannot imagine going through all that without my sisters. And my sweet daughter came down to help….she was so good, hauling stuff, cleaning, shopping, taking my (mental) temperature. She’ll never know how much I appreciate it.

And I’ve made a resolution to be better about sending cards to people who have lost someone….they really do mean a lot.

I want to share a story from my Mom’s earlier days…one I shared at her service, that spoke to 1. her stubbornness and 2. her standards. She and my Dad married january, 1942….she followed him to couple of cities until he was deployed overseas.  In Abilene, Texas, she needed a job desperately, to be able to afford to stay there with him…but the town was awash in army wives, looking for work. So she picked the largest office building in Abilene, and starting on the bottom floor, went door to door, asking if people needed secretarial help(she was very good). Finally on the 4th floor, a bookkeeper said yes indeed, they were between secretaries, and while the boss was not in town, he would hire her, to see if it worked out.

Later that week, Mom’s new boss(name was J.D. something-I hate myself that I can’t remember his last name),an oilman who had been out in the fields, came in, walked right by Mom into his office, put his dirty boots up on the desk and said loudly, “Girl, get in here and bring your book!”  For those of you too young get the reference…he meant her stenographer’s book.

He proceeded to dictate a letter…but what a letter! It was basically a string of disorganized thoughts, bad grammar, no punctuation or paragraphs, and full of curse words. When he finished, he said, “You type it up just like that.”

Mother took the letter back to her desk and pondered her situation….on one hand she really needed this job, and there was every indication he would fire her if she didn’t do as he said. On the other hand, a letter like that went against everything she had ever been taught, and everything she believed in. So, she turned his random thoughts into a proper business letter, with proper punctuation and grammar, and no curses….typed it up and quietly laid it on his desk.

A few minutes later, he cam storming out of his office, past Mom straight into the bookkeeper’s office(who must have been trembling in his boots)….and exclaimed, “Finally…..you hired a girl who can type the way I talk!!” They got along fine after that.

She was a strong bird, my Mom….and if she ever did something that went against her principles, I never knew about it. I had a moment this morning of missing her intensely….on my way to work, I would call her most every morning. And this morning, when I got in the car….I had no one to call. And thus it goes, life changing after someone leaves it. Sadder, but the better for having had known them. I know all of you know of what I speak. Again, thank you.