Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Day, My Dad's Birthday!

Today is my Dad's 77th Birthday. I don't know how that happened any more than I know how I got to be 44! The older I get the more I can see that inside all the "old folks" that I know is the same person they were when they were young. You can see it in my Dad's eyes when he's telling stories.

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 probably never told him this, but as a kid I thought he had the biggest forearms of any man ever, a product of being a hard-working truck driver and mechanic. Like so many in his generation, his education was cut-short by the demands of life. But later in life he earned an equivalency degree so he could be a Company Manager. And here he is now, 77 years old and on Facebook!

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.


Vickie (Clinton's sister) said...

Clinton, that's an amazing and wonderful tribute to Daddy... and you hit it right on... Happy Birthday from me, too, Daddy...

Johnny White said...

What a woderfull birthday gift, I am a small measure of the man you describe. Ahh but I love it.
Thank You my Son. I love You.
My life is full of great memories.

The Crazy Trucker said...

Wow! What an awesome post! Feel like I know your father now. Actually kind of reminds me of my father a little. Happy belated birthday Mr. White may u enjoy many more!

WonderGirl said...

That was so very touching. I love my Papaw like nobody's business, and you did a wonderful job of capturing why. Happy Birthday, Papaw. Love you.

PS-- Uncle Clinton thought you had the biggest forearms, but I always thought you were the tallest man I'd ever known. Just goes to show-- you're big in our eyes, always.

Karen said...

Awesome post. Happy Birthday Clinton's Dad! May you have many more. (as an really should think of visiting Ukraine. the eastern region remind me a lot of MS.)

Janet T (Clinton's other sister) said...

Clinton, what a beautiful birthday gift you've given Daddy by writing this; i have no doubt that this is something that he's going to treasure for the rest of his life. God bless you, Clinton, I love you so much!

Tina said...

I know most people in life think about becoming parents one day, but because of your post, I think I have a better understanding of why you have a great desire to be a dad - you have a great one and you still call him "Daddy". That makes me smile.

Ashley said...

hey, I always thought he was the tallest man I knew too! Still do! I don't know how I missed this post earlier, but happy late bday Pawpaw- love you lots!