Lessons from Daddy that just keep on going

Jun. 16, 2013 @ 09:39 AM

A high back rocking chair similar to the one JFK had in the Oval office was a Father's Day gift my sisters and I gave our daddy a long time ago it seems.

On another Father's Day weekend when he arrived home from a hard day's work at Stonecutter Mills his face lit up when he saw his new hammock in the middle of the room. We had surprised him again with a favorite gift.

With a Western paperback novel in his hand, Daddy relaxed in that hammock more hours than I can remember during a camping trips to the Smoky Mountains or the ocean.

Other gifts were fishing or hunting paraphernalia, Tea Sets or pocket knives for his collections and maybe an occasional piece of clothing.

He enjoyed having us around for Father's Day, he always said,  which included a meal at home. Sometimes it was the Thanksgiving meal  — turkey, mama's special dressing and all the other trimmings. That evening he'd often sit down to his second favorite meal — cornbread and milk, with a big onion, shaker of black pepper and a tall glass of ice water to wash it all down.

My daddy died on July 5, 2006, during what we always referred to as the "Week of the Fourth." That was our favorite time of the year because our parents were off work when the plants shut down, and it was vacation time somewhere in the Carolinas or Tennessee.

I can't buy Daddy any more Father's Day presents.

But today I'm reminded of some of the lifelong lasting gifts he gave me.

Daddy taught me to drive a car. Every time I am driving at night and a car comes toward me, I remember to look to my right to the white line so I won't be distracted by the lights in my face. He gave me that advice.

The day I got my license, Daddy told me that although I had a driver's license that did not mean I knew how to drive. It would be many weeks before he allowed me to drive without my parents beside me.

Daddy taught me to drive when I was a young teen, powering his 1947 Ford pick-up truck 3/10ths of a mile down our dirt road to home. I'd run up the road to meet him as he was coming home from work and he'd slide over and I'd take the wheel.

For months he didn't let me go past first gear. The day I changed gears was monumental.

He also taught me to drive a hay rake which I also loved. Driving the pick-up or the hay rake in the field wasn't nearly as difficult as picking up the bales of hay like my sisters did.

Daddy taught me to ride a bicycle. As an 8-year-old, he informed me if I could ride a two-wheeled tricycle I could get a bicycle.

It so happened one of the tricycle wheels were gone and I learned to ride. He told the story years later about how neighbors would come from across the old dirt road to see me doing my magic tricks.

Sure enough on Christmas morning that year, sitting under our cedar tree was the most beautiful shinny blue Western Flyer I'd ever seen. Lucky for me, my three sisters couldn't ride it. 

When they learned, we figured out how to ride it all at the same time since there was one bicycle and four girls. We didn't ride together often, but we proved it was possible. 

Daddy taught me about sharing and doing with whatever was available. 

He taught me to swim in the Green River and how to ride waves lying flat on my back in the Atlantic Ocean.

He even taught me how to fish, clean them and gig frogs.

I knew how to feed hogs, chickens and our dogs.

Daddy taught me to work hard and play harder and that once all the jobs were done, it was time to have fun.

He also taught me there were no favorites among his four daughters. However, if one was more needy at a certain time, we were the most special. So it seemed.

Like the time he stood over my bed in an emergency room and let me squeeze his hands until it nearly blue while a doctor administered Novocain in an open flesh wound on the back of my leg. I got the nasty cut jumping over a barbed-wire fence trying to make it to home-base paying hide-n-seek with our cousins. 

I was his favorite the Saturday morning I was scheduled for a tonsillectomy and he was coming to the hospital from his third shift job as fast as he could. When the operating room people came for me, I remember crying and asking them not to take me until Daddy got there. They waited. By the way, I was a ninth-grader.

Daddy enjoyed the outdoors and although camping was the most economical vacation for a family of six, we couldn't have had more fun or learned more lessons anywhere else.

He taught us to appreciate the beauty of God's creation out in the woods.

He said the Bible was the Good Book and I enjoyed watching him read.

Daddy taught me he'd do his best to rescue me from the perils of life. While riding in his truck one day as a kid, the passenger door flew open as we rounded a curve on Toms Lake Road. He grabbed my shirt and held on.

Daddy taught me that no one is perfect and being forgiving is freedom.

As his health began to fail in 2006, he reminded me of loyalty to family. As he had stood by my bedside many times and held my hand when I was afraid, this time on July 5, I was at his bedside, holding his hand as he crossed over from this earth into heaven.  It was a priceless.

Today I cherish the memories and the good times we had with Daddy and Mama.

I'm so for thankful for Daddy who loved me and taught me so many life's lessons that just keep on going.