"This one's for you, Daddy"
This page is where I pay tribute to my dad by sharing some memories that I have of him. The words bolded in the memories (below) refer to a picture in the banner (at the left).
Not long after Dad passed away, a family friend testified that it could be said of him that he *loved* his family.
One of my favorite memories is from when I was little. I did the old "got your nose" trick to him. He played along and said, "Oh no!" I pretended to put the nose back on upside down; he said, "Oh no! I'm in trouble when it rains." I hadn't thought of that, so I promptly put his nose back on the right way. :)
As part of his efforts to treat my sister and me fairly, during our early years he would buy us exactly the same toys.
Dad did *not* like for me to tell him that my dolls said, "Hello, Grandpa."
When I was growing up, I remember Dad having two white vans, a Ford and a Dodge. They didn't have windows on the sides (as the one pictured does), and they only had seats for the driver and the passenger. Whenever our family rode together in one, my sister and I usually sat - rather uncomfortably - on the bumpouts for the back wheels.
I'd often ride in the passenger seat sitting on Mom's lap, and while driving, Dad would frequently ask me to sit back so that he could see any approaching traffic. To this day, while in the passenger seat, my sister and I almost unconsciously sit back in the seat to give the driver a clear line of sight.
Dad mostly used the vans for hauling stuff. That's another memory I have: Dad was always bringing stuff - such as scrap lumber - home. I guess he figured we might need it someday. (I think I picked up this packrat tendency; I see stuff people want to get rid of and think, "Could we use that...?")
Dad had several big red toolboxes, and to this day I think about him when I see one.
He used his tools to make some things for us, including a hutch, a doll wardrobe, and a heart-shaped pencil holder.
My dad told the story of how he and five of his relatives were all at his uncle's hardware store. A gentleman came in and said, "Mr. Jones?" One of the guys replied, "Well, which one do you want? There's just six of us here."
Our family has had cats for pets for as long as I can remember. Dad preferred cats to dogs, because he remembers being chased by dogs while delivering newspapers when he was younger.
When our old cat, Spotty, was injured, I remember Dad protectively carrying him into the house.
One Christmas, my Dad's father was visiting. My sister had sat heavily ... okay, pretty much fell ... down in a chair, and Dad scolded her for wearing out the furniture. This inspired PaPaw to act out how *Dad* would plant himself down onto chairs when he was little.
When I was young we frequently had a garden. My dad would run the tiller and leave footprints in the freshly turned dirt. I would try to walk in those footprints, but I'd have to jump and still I couldn't quite follow them.
Near the garden, there was a persimmon tree. Dad discouraged me from trying the persimmons by saying they were so sour, if you tasted them, your lips would pucker. That sounded horrible to me, and from then on, I've had no desire for one.
According to my mother, when a home cookware show was held at his sister's house, he asked the presenter: "Can you make cabbage that *I* will like?"
Also according to my mother, when I was born, Dad took the entire month off from work.
When I was in third grade, I got the chicken pox and couldn't go to school. My dad was helping out by working in his uncle's hardware store, and I got to go too. As I recall, I helped my dad put together a wagon.
Dad had a collection of old 45 records, and my sister and I would play DJ with our record player. Thanks to those records - which included songs like The Book of Love - and Dad's cassette recordings of a program called The History of Rock and Roll, my sister and I developed an early appreciation for the classics.
One day my dad was driving me into town, and we were listening to the radio. "Fast Movin' Train" by Restless Heart was playing. My dad happened to casually sing along with a line or two. I was amazed because my dad wasn't the kind of guy that usually did that. (Maybe I was just never around when he did ...)
Dad always listened to country music. I credit him with the fact that I still appreciate it.
Mom recalled him complaining one day that during his drive to work, the station kept playing Ricky Scaggs' music. (I'm guessing Dad wasn't a fan. Or, maybe he was like me and gets tired of hearing most songs over and over.)
Before I was born, Dad dabbled in CB radio as a hobby. Mom recalled that his CB handle (i.e. name) was Coffee Hound, to reflect his coffee habit. At least once, he attended a CB-ers convention in Nashville.
Dad's former coworker shared that, at restaurants, Dad would request coffee "that had been sitting around." (As a coffee drinker myself now... ugh! I guess non-fresh coffee is what got Dad through his frequent third shift rotations at work, so he grew accustomed to that.)
Dad and my mom's two brothers decided to go deep sea fishing because none of them had ever been. (Such an expedition was so unlike my dad, I was stunned when Mom recalled this memory.) On the drive to the Gulf of Mexico, as he would stop the car, Mom's older brother would put his arm out in front of Dad. It seems my uncle was well accustomed to driving with his son as the passenger, in the days before seat belts.
On one occasion, while we were out and about - which didn't happen often - we stopped at Big Lots, and Dad bought me some colored eyeliner pencils.
Another time, Dad and I had gone into town, and we decided to stop at Captain D's.
I also recall two local family outings: a get-together at his friend's place and a picnic at a park by a river, given by his employer.
The summer after I was in sixth grade, our family went to Opryland, which was an amusement park in Nashville, Tennessee. One of the rides was "old-fashioned" cars. That was one of the few rides Dad would go on, and he let me drive. At one point, we paused, and the car behind us bumped into us a little. He turned around, and the boys in that car hastily apologized. Did I mention that my dad was a big guy?
The track for the Opryland rollercoaster The Wabash Cannonball included two loops where the car turned upside down. Dad declined that ride on the grounds that he "might've been okay for the first loop but hoped no one was standing under the second!"
Other family road trips that I remember are visits to Ave Maria Grotto and to the beach in south Alabama for a family friend's wedding.
We rode to the beach in a yellow two-door Camaro. Probably not the best choice for a traveling family of four. Recently I've come to suspect that Dad just wanted to drive a flashy car for a while.
I seem to recall him saying once that we might rent a camper "some day" and drive to Canada. (Never happened.)
Sometimes as we drove on bridges that went over a freeway, he'd say that we "ran over a trailer truck" when an 18-wheeler happened to be passing underneath us.
Once when a bug splattered across the windshield, he commented, "It took guts to do that."
He called vehicles with only one working headlight "Popeye".
Dad always shaved with Barbasol. Other brands I remember him using are Right Guard, Safe Guard, Bromo Seltzer and Lava (soap).
During a particularly bad allergy season, Dad said that he and my sister may have to move to Arizona to help their sinus problems.
When I was in high school, my dad surprised me one day with a radio cassette player.
He also, during a rare visit to a store, used his beer money to buy me a dress.
I was living away from home, and Mom wanted to get me a gift card. Her first choice of store didn't offer them at that time; she said that Dad suggested Wal-Mart because, "She goes to Wal-Mart." Sure, I went there some, but I had no idea that he noticed!
I recall him saying one time that he hated to go to a store and not buy anything. (I'm guessing stores liked to see him coming!)
One year, Dad felt compelled to purchase several bags of apples from a local orchard. To assist in our apple-eating, he also purchased a table-mounted apple corer.
On the days he would work in the yard, after a break he would declare that he was going to "mower some more." That annoyed me, because I felt it should be "mow some more." Looking back, I think his was more clever: a play on words.
Once Mom, Dad, and I were working in the yard near the barn. Our large yard was mostly overgrown with vines and brush, and one of us (me, I think) mentioned needing a bulldozer to really clear the yard. I may have wondered aloud where we could get one, because I remember Dad replying that my "boyfriend's daddy" had one. Dad was referring to the neighborhood guy that I had a *huge* crush on, but Dad's calling him my boyfriend made me realize that I really liked the sound of it! ;)
He said it always snowed on Mom's birthday. (I'm not sure how true it was, but I like to think it was his way of marking her day special.)
In the early 90's my dad, sister and I took a road trip about forty miles to the local dam. (I forget why; I think we were just saying how we'd never been there.) We usually didn't do things like that, but it was a good time. We were allowed to visit a part of the dam that wasn't on the regular tour.
On another rare outing, Dad and I joined my sister at her employer's Fourth of July picnic. As I recall, we all won a "prize" (Frisbee, drink bottle, etc.), and we all agreed it was a pretty good time.
At that picnic, a little boy - a toddler - happened to be near us, and Dad greeted him with a nice, "Hello, there!" I remember being pleasantly surprised that Dad would not only notice the little guy, but actually talk to him as well.
I bought these shoes to wear around our house, and I wore them a lot because they were so comfortable. Dad must've noticed because he asked if the place I'd got them would have a pair in his size.
After finding some gallons of paint on clearance at Kmart for $3 (each), I bought some and painted my room. Dad's uncle owned a hardware store, and when Dad told him how little I paid, he'd commented, "You didn't buy that paint. You stole it!"
One time he asked me to stop at the Casual Male Big and Tall to get a robe/housecoat for him.
To my surprise, he purchased the re-release of the song "Candle in the Wind" after Princess Diana died.
He had heard (I forget where) of a crafty project in which one could make flowers from coffee filters. Apparently, Dad was excited at this prospect - and I guess he thought we would be too - because he went out and bought several packs of coffee filters. (Sadly, I don't think we ever tried a single flower.)
After I had worked for a while, I bought a loveseat. I should've mentioned this to Dad, because when the delivery men stopped at our house and started to unload it, Dad hurried outside telling them they had the wrong place. Fortunately, I was home too, and I ran out to explain that it was mine.
Until the last few years of his life, Dad didn't watch much television. So I was surprised one day when he decided to join me for one of my favorite shows, MacGyver. Unfortunately, that particular episode had a less-than-pleasant scene where a scientist was exposed to a bacteria that accelerated aging. Dad found that a bit disturbing, so he hastily left the room.
As mentioned above, for many years, he didn't watch much television. When he finally got one for the den - where he usually sat - it was a bit complicated to tune, and somehow that task fell to me. I'd be sitting in the living room, and I'd hear him call "Technician!" Then I'd trod into the den and say, "You rang?"
He enjoyed watching old movies - such as those starring Elvis Presley - again and again.
Whenever we were leaving my grandfather's house, Dad would always invite him to "go with us." I remember wondering what Dad would've done if PaPaw had said okay.
We never had cookouts; instead one of our treats was getting the family pack of barbeque from a local restaurant.
Other times, we would get the three-for special of chili dogs from a local burger-and-ice-cream stand.
As an even bigger treat, we'd sometimes cross the river to go to a certain pizza place.
He always swore that the mild sauce at Taco Bell was hotter than the one that was actually labeled "hot."
He often called Sun Drop "Sun Drip."
I remember one day that my mother had gone to work and Dad was wondering what was for supper. I said that I was making myself some macaroni and cheese (from the blue box) and Dad replied, "No thanks, I drank at the branch."
One of my aunts recalls (from *many* years ago) when she and my uncle were playing Rook with my mom and Dad. Dad suddenly announces, "I can't play Rook; I'm thinking about that last piece of Key Lime Pie." So my aunt told him, "Well, go get it."
I had a game called Shadowlord, and he always called it Shadow-world "because there's only one Lord."
One time we were locked out of our house, but Dad got the window open. Being the smallest, I offered to climb in and unlock the door, but Dad insisted first on trying to reach through the window to unlock the door. Alas, he couldn't quite reach, so he boosted me through the window. I unlocked the door and (in my young mind) saved the day.
Caught up in make-believe, I decided that my nickname... and, um, superhero name... was Spacey, for my fondness of things related to outer space. Dad's assessment was that it sounded as if I was on drugs. No doubt that was his background in law enforcement talking.
Once when I was trying - as I often did - to state my "reasons" that I needed an allowance, my dad tossed me a penny and said that was my allowance. (Smarty pants. Must be where I get it.)
Many times whenever my sister and I would talk about some new thing that we wanted, Dad would say, "And how am I supposed to buy that? With my looks?"
Sometimes on a sweltering Southern summer afternoon, Dad would quip, "Cool, hadn't it."
Another Dad-ism: when one of us would say something that he didn't quite hear - or maybe it was something so crazy he just wanted to be sure he heard right - he'd say, "Do what?" My sister and I still use that as a response sometimes.
When answering a question in the negative, he'd often say, "No ma'am, Sam."
More often than not, while getting ready to go to his job, he'd ask, "Who wants to go to work for me??"
Listening to oldies radio, when "Charlie Brown" by The Coasters came on, my sister and I both recalled Dad often quoting a line from the song: "Why is everybody always pickin' on me?"
One of our cats had taken to sharpening her claws on the wood siding of our shop. When she would do that, I'd scold, "You tearin' up the building?" And I'd smile at that Dad-ism. (Of course, he was usually saying it to me, not to a cat.)
When leaving, he'd declare that he would "be back directly."
In 2011, we realized that a family friend rode the school bus with my dad all those years ago. The family friend was several years younger than my dad, and he recalls Dad watching out for him.
As a twist on making a pillow from one of Dad's shirts, I dressed a throw pillow with one and displayed it among two large teddy bears.
Songs that remind me of my dad.
"The Greatest Man I Never Knew," by Reba McEntire
The greatest man I never knew came home late ev'ry night,
He never had to much to say. Too much was on his mind.
I never really knew him, oh and now it seems so sad.
Ev'rything he gave to us took all he had.
Then the days turned into years, and the mem'ries to black and white.
He grew cold like an old winter wind blowing across my life.
The greatest words I never heard I guess I'll never hear.
The man I thought could never die has been dead almost a year.
"That's My Job," by Conway Twitty
I woke up crying late at night
when I was very young.
I had dreamed my father
had passed away and gone.
My world revolved around him
I couldn't lay there anymore.
So I made my way down the mirrored hall
and tapped upon his door.
And I said "Daddy, I'm so afraid.
How will I go on with you gone that way?
Don't wanna cry anymore,
so may I stay with you?"
And he said "That's my job,
that's what I do.
Everything I do is because of you,
To keep you safe with me.
That's my job you see."
"The Impossible," by Joe Nichols
My dad chased monsters from the dark,
He checked underneath my bed.
And he could lift me with one arm way up over top his head.
He could loosen rusty bolts with a quick turn of his wrench,
And he pulled splinters from his hand and never even flinched.
In thirteen years I'd never seen him cry,
But the day that Grandpa died I realized.
Unsinkable ships sink, unbreakable walls break,
Sometimes the things you think will never happen
Happen just like that.
Unbendable steel bends
If the fury of the wind is unstoppable.
I've learned to never underestimate the impossible.
"The Living Years," by Mike & The Mechanics
I wasn't there that morning
When my father passed away.
I didn't get to tell him
All the things I had to say.
I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year.
I'm sure I heard his echo
In my baby's new born tears,
I just wish I could have told him in the living years.
"Time Marches On," by Tracy Lawrence
Sister calls herself a sexy grandma.
Brother's on a diet for high cholesterol.
Mama's out of touch with reality.
Daddy's in the ground beneath the maple tree.
As the angels sing an old Hank Williams song.
Time marches on, time marches on.
"Christmas Memories," by Alabama
Now Daddy's gone but we carry on...
Christmas memories of happy years gone by.
They come back to me and keep me warm inside
Oh they mean so much to me.
Those Christmas memories make me cry.
"Made Up Of," by Barnaby Bright
And I know I'm an echo of a man I used to love.
Even though that was long ago
He's all I'm made up of.
I saved a bunch of clothes you wore;
People say throw it all away
But I can't bear to open up the door.
"How Am I Supposed To Live Without You," by Michael Bolton
I could hardly believe it when I heard the news today.
I had to come and get it straight from you.
They said you were leaving, someone swept your heart away;
From the look upon your face I see it's true.
So tell me all about it, tell me 'bout the plans you're makin'
Then tell me one thing more before I go .
Tell me how am I supposed to live without you
Now that I've been lovin' you so long?
How am I supposed to live without you?
And how am I supposed to carry on
When all that I've been livin' for is gone?
"My Father's Eyes," by Eric Clapton
Then the jagged edge appears
Through the distant clouds of tears.
I'm like a bridge that was washed away;
My foundations were made of clay.
As my soul slides down to die.
How could I lose him?
What did I try?
Bit by bit, I've realized
That he was here with me;
I looked into my father's eyes.
"Leader Of The Band," by Dan Fogelberg
I thank you for the music
And your stories of the road.
I thank you for the freedom
When it came my time to go.
I thank you for the kindness
And the times when you got tough,
And, Papa, I don't think I
Said "I love you" near enough --
The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old.
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul --
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man.
I'm just a living legacy
To the leader of the band.
"I Hold On," by Dierks Bentley
It's just an old beat up truck,
Some say that I should trade up
Now that I got some jangle in my pocket
But what they don't understand
Is it's the miles that make a man
I wouldn't trade that thing in for a rocket
What they don't know is my dad and me
We drove her out to Tennessee
And she's still here and now he's gone
So I hold on
"Drive," by Alan Jackson
I'm grown up now
Three daughters of my own.
I let them drive my old Jeep
Across the pasture at our home.
Maybe one day they'll reach back in their file
And pull out that old memory
And think of me and smile,
It was just an old worn out Jeep
Rusty old floor boards
Hot on my feet.
A young girl, two hands on the wheel
I can't replace the way it made me feel,
And he'd say
"Turn it left, and steer it right
Straighten up girl now, you're doing just fine."
Just a little valley by the river where we'd ride
But I was high on a mountain
When Daddy let me
"It'll Come Back," by Red Sovine
On our little girl's third birthday
She got a sandbox, in the backyard to play
Sand was everywhere as she played and she laughed.
I busted her, for it killed all the grass.
"It'll come back, it'll come back
Daddy, don't be mad
God and the rain will bring it back"
"Butterfly Kisses," by Bob Carlisle
I couldn't ask God for more, man this is what love is.
I know I gotta let her go, but I'll always remember
Every hug in the morning and butterfly kisses...
"I Loved Her First," by Heartland
But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers.
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep.
And I prayed that she'd find you someday
But it still hard to give her away.
I loved her first.
"High Cotton," by Alabama
We didn't know that times were lean;
Around our home the grass was green.
It didn't seem like things were all that bad.
I bet we walked a thousand miles
Choppin' cotton and pushin' plows
And learnin' how to give it all we had.
As life went on and years went by
I saw the light in daddy's eyes
And felt the love in mama's hands.
They kept us warm and kept us fed
Taught us how to look ahead.
Now lookin' back, I understand.
"Something To Be Proud Of," by Montgomery Gentry
There's a story that my daddy tells religiously
Like clockwork every time he sees an opening
In a conversation about the way things used to be.
Well I'd just roll my eyes and make a bee-line for the door
But I'd always wind up starry-eyed, cross-legged on the floor
Hanging on to every word.
Man, the things I heard.
"Dance With My Father," by Luther Vandross
Back when I was a child, before life removed all the innocence.
My father would lift me high and dance with my mother and me and then
Spin me around 'til I fell asleep.
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure I was loved.
If I could get another chance, another walk, another dance with him
I'd play a song that would never, ever end.
How I'd love, love, love
To dance with my father again.
"No Place That Far," by Sara Evans
I can't imagine, any greater fear
Then waking up, without you here,
And though the sun, will still shine on,
My whole world, would all be gone,
But not for long,
If I had to run, if I had to crawl
If I had to swim a hundred rivers, just to climb a thousand walls,
Always know that I will find a way, to get to where you are,
There's no place that far.
"The Dance," by Garth Brooks
Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared 'neath the stars above.
For a moment all the world was right;
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye?
And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance.
"What If God Says No?" by The Akins
He recalled the day
She got the call that stopped her life.
And ever since that moment
He prayed God would heal his wife.
She got weaker by the minute
In that hospital bed,
And she could see that he was mad at God
So she took his hand and aid
What if God says no?
It don't mean He loves us less
It just means He knows what's best, oh
What if God says no?
It's enough we have His grace
So don't let go of your faith, oh
What if God says no?
"One Sweet Day," by Mariah Carey
Sorry I never told you
All I wanted to say.
And now it's too late to hold you
'Cause you've flown away,
So far away...
Never had I imagined
Living without your smile.
Feelin' and knowin' you hear me
It keeps me alive, alive...
And I know you're shining down on me from Heaven
Like so many friends we've lost along the way.
And I know eventually we'll be together
One sweet day...
Eventually I'll see you in Heaven
"Love, Me," by Collin Raye
If you get there before I do, don't give up on me.
I'll meet you when my chores are through;
I don't know how long I'll be.
But I'm not gonna let you down, darling, wait and see.
And between now and then, till I see you again,
I'll be loving you. Love, me.
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