He's a great storyteller, My Dad. I don't know when I became aware of that- sometime in the last 15 or so years I guess. I didn't notice it or know of it when I was a kid. Honestly, I don't know where it comes from because basically my Dad is an introverted, "Silent Generation" kind of guy with definite "GI Generation" characteristics from growing up close to all of that. Of course he grew up in a great place during a great time- a time that bred heroic tales. Can you imagine being a 9 year old boy when WW2 began and watching all your brothers go off to fight? Can you imagine turning 12 on D-Day?
He's always insisted that he has no desire to leave the USA (and he's a world-class spokesman for the State of Mississippi!) But I think he'd love some of the places I've seen. So much of the world is what MS must have been like when he was a kid. In rural Ukraine people still draw water from a well, cook over coal or wood and go outside to take care of business. With my Dad's gift of gab I could see him carrying on for hours on end with these old men and women in Ukraine!
In the weeks following Kim's death, he and my stepmother lived with me for several weeks. It got to where some of my "youth group" would come over, even when I wasn't home, to ask him to tell stories.
- Running over a mailbox while checking out girls on the lake.
- M-80's or some such firecrackers at a high school basketball game.
- Him playing Harmonica in a band in high school!
- Itching Powder in the ductwork of a local (minority owned) honkey tonk.
- Attempting to jump an Army jeep over a ditch.
- The one about the Bobcat in a suitcase!
- Living through a gas truck explosion.
- Telling Charles Evers (a fairly famous Civil Rights Activist) about having met him before- in the 60's when Charles was marching with the NAACP and he was with the KKK- he was never in the KKK to my knowledge...but only my Dad could get away with making a joke like that!
- Talking- and just blatantly lying- his way out of every speeding ticket he ever met...and probably leaving the Trooper smiling and laughing every time!
I came along a little later (8 years later) than my next closest sibling. By the time I was around, both parents were working and my sisters and brothers were about to leave the nest. I don't remember playing ball with my Dad or too many things like that. But I do remember watching him work on things and thinking that there wasn't anything he couldn't fix or build. I get a lot of that from him. I feel like I can take anything apart and often put it back together- sometimes it works afterwards! I remember neighbors coming to him for help- pulling someone from a ditch or helping with the Cotton or Soybean harvest. I hope when I grow up I'll have as much love and concern for people as he does.
I've watched him mellow-out a lot in these last few years. Maybe he's realizing that he missed some things when we were all growing up. His Mother, whom he loved like few sons have ever loved a Mother, died right around 105 years of age, so maybe now that he thinks he only has about 30 more years left he's making up for lost time by being so attentive and present to his family.
I love my Daddy. He's at a stage in life where he's a Prayer Warrior, but also a worrier and wants to make the most of the time he has... and here I am, at a stage of life (where I didn't think I would be at 44) of trying to discern God's plan for me and believing, for now, that it includes reaching the Nations. It makes being both close, and far-away, difficult.
Happy Birthday Daddy.