Tribute to my Father, who died on June 4, 2017, at the age of 95.
He Did All He Knew To Do
I remember Dad as a small, yet mighty warrior. He seemed larger than life.
He climbed the largest Sweetgum tree at our Goodwater, Alabama, house each spring.
He and my brothers mowed our large yard with push mowers each Saturday during the summer without complaint.
He worked long and hard hours at Sterling Lumber Company–giving the job his all.
He built Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house in our back yard with his bare hands.
He built the rock wall at the foot of the hill just to please mother.
He sat up with me when I was sick.
He rubbed my chest with Vick’s Vapor Rub when I had a cold.
He took the family to Panama City on vacation several times, but held himself aloof at the alligator farms he stopped at just to please Mama.
He drove the family to Washington D.C. for one big blow-out vacation the summer Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
He smoked on the front steps of Goodwater Baptist Church with the other deacons each Sunday before church.
He was the church secretary for years.
He and Mom sat in the same pew at church every Sunday that I can remember.
Dad suffered during his life on earth, like we all do, but God loved him anyway, and Dad loved God. He was clearly chosen to belong to God despite his struggles, yet he didn’t always live like he believed it. He often seemed like two people rather than one–a redeemed soul one minute and a suffering one the next. When he was in his suffering state, he was irritable, impatient, and confrontational with most everyone around him.
But when the redeemed self showed up, he was kindhearted and full of mercy and love. I remember the Sunday night he climbed into the car with an Auburn student returning to school who had a terrible wreck in front of our house. The student eventually lost both legs. Another time he brought a young couple in for dinner when they had a wreck nearby and were waiting for their automobile to be repaired.
He drove me and a carload of cackling, young girls to football games on Friday nights without ever uttering a word.
He took care of mom for most of his life.
He took care of others the best he could.
He loved Jesus the only way he knew how.
That was why he had a redeemed soul as well as a suffering one. I often wondered if he wanted to be cared for rather than always being the caregiver. If so, maybe he is enjoying that right now.
He planted a garden at the assisted living facility where he made his home. At the time that he planted the garden, Dad hoped many of the residents would take up his hobby of raising fruits and vegetables along with Dad and his buddies, but not all could work as hard as they did. Dad thought that tending a garden would be good therapy for all concerned. And whether the residents could work or not didn’t really matter. All enjoyed picking the juicy, red, ripe tomatoes.
Dad left a legacy of responsibility and care because that was what he did.
Duty was important to Dad.
I’ve often wondered if joining the army at such an impressionable age, 16, caused duty to become such an important aspect of who he was.
He felt his duty was doing what was needed, whether it was wearing red on Friday or jitterbugging at a Renaissance gathering, or planting a garden. He wanted to inspire others to enjoy their life to the fullest.
In the end, the redeemed, sweet part of him won out. He looked young and care-free as the light left his eyes on Sunday.
Daddy loved his family. Daddy loved his country. Daddy loved the folks around him.
He wanted everyone to be happy and to love Jesus.
We loved him, too.
He was a force in our lives. He did all he knew to do.