Each year the fall is a time when I look back at fond memories. This first installment of People Who Make a Difference can only be dedicated to my father who passed away in 1976.
Daddy was a gentle man who made a difference in many people’s lives. He was a consummate teacher. He invented teachable moments. He would have been proud of me. My very last conversation with him the day he died was daddy telling me to go back to college. That conversation kept me going when I struggled years later while I juggled college full time, two young children and two night jobs bartending and working as a waitress (or as they politically say now, server).
Because my father had a business that took him away many nights, he made sure every moment counted. Monday nights were the best. From the time I was twelve until I married Fred the family went out to dinner at a favorite restaurant, the Centerton Inn. What you said mattered and he listened and mom would be on her best behavior, no yelling where people could see you so we looked forward to these family connections.
On the days when we were off school, we went to work with him. I would sit on the bar stool behind the bar and listen and laugh. The atmosphere was very “Cheers” like because the diehard regulars were there when the place opened at 7:00 am. It was where I learned to be a master storyteller.
When the afternoon help came in to work, dad would take me on adventures. We would go to “Cowtown” on Tuesdays (the ORIGINAL flea market in the United States) other days we went to used furniture and junking. We were way before our time, this was the 60’s and the furniture style was very “Brady Bunch” and shag carpets (ugh). Dad loved the down home country style. He would pick up antiques that he would hang up in the bar. I cannot go into a Cracker Barrel without thinking of our bar.
Later, when I got married and bought a big old Victorian money pit, Daddy would come to breakfast several times a week and do fix it jobs. When we had Annie his visits were daily. He adored her.
In the fall we would track deer in the deer hunting woods. Another favorite excursion was the “Indian Grave Yard” where we looked for arrowheads and the history on the grave markers. All the while, daddy gave you his undivided attention. Ironically, he had his heart attack chasing hunters off his property where he had been tracking a deer. Just two days before the attack, he and I were in the woods tracking. He died two weeks later.
Dad smoked a pipe with Half and Half tobacco, I long for that smell now. I visualize him in heaven puffing looking down at me. When I am having a bad day, somehow something comes up that tells me he is with me and he is proud of me and he is encouraging me to keep dreaming no matter what obstacles I face.
I love and miss you daddy.