Saturday, December 31, 2011

Some Memories of My Father

My father (born in 1915) had a brother, JT Smith, who owned a farm on Paintlick Mountain in Tazewell County. After he retired from N&W, Uncle T farmed fulltime. We lived in town, and Daddy was disabled (diabetes and congestive heart failure). He would call Uncle T several times a week to chat, and I was home one rainy & chilly February day when he did so. Now Daddy did not take well to the touchpad phone, he really missed the dial. He misdialed the number that morning, and did not realize. When the party on the line he actually dialed answered, Daddy said, "So, tell me. What does a farmer do on a rainy morning in February?" The lady whose number he had dialed in error shrieked in his ear, and called him an old pervert. I died laughing!

People tell jokes frequently about the travelling salesman and the farmer’s daughter. Well. My father was a salesman, and my grandfather was a farmer, and my parents met in a hayfield. So truth can be as funny as a punch line to a joke.
Daddy was a very sarcastic person. He liked to embarrass others as well, usually his children. My younger brother was in his teens, and had a bad case of acne, as did one of his best friends, Bill. One day Ed and Bill were sitting in the front yard in lawn chairs and Daddy was standing at the front door, watching them. I was in the easy chair reading, and I glanced up and saw that look on his face. “Daddy, what are you going to do? Please leave him alone.”  “Oh, hush. Let an old man have his fun”
“Hey, Eddie!” his voice boomed.
“Yes, sir!”
“Quit picking at your face. I told you what was going to happen if you kept playing with yourself.”
Bill’s face turned red with embarrassment, and he abruptly jumped on his bicycle and left. Ed came running in the house, looked at Daddy and said, “You are a mean old man! I hate you!” Then he went to his room and slammed the door. Daddy just chuckled.
Every year for our birthdays, Daddy would give us the same thing. A dollar coin and a half gallon of Fudge Ripple ice cream. He gave us Fudge Ripple because it was his favorite. He would open the carton and use an iced teaspoon to tunnel out the fudge, when you went to get ice cream it looked like Swiss cheese.
Were we the only children whose father would steal all of the Kit Kat and Reese’s Cup candy bars from their Halloween treats and say it was so we didn’t eat any bad candy?
 We ate our evening meal at 6:00 sharp. The television would be on in the living room, and the only talk was “pass the bread, please” and “may I be excused, please?” Daddy had to listen to the local news, then the Huntley/Brinkley Report on NBC. He would get irritated at the commercials, though. Once time he remarked how nice it would be to have an evening meal without side dishes of Preparation H and Kotex.
My father was not prone to great expressions of affection, but he loved his family dearly. My grandparents lived within eyesight of us, and he went every evening to give my grandmother an insulin shot before he came home. I guess he must have felt lost when she passed away in 1972.  I think he continued to go check on his father as frequently as possible, until my grandfather opted to go to a nursing home for his final years.
Daddy was one of eight children, and the first to pass away. He spoke with his five sisters and two brothers frequently. Five of the eight stayed in the county they were born in, and a sixth moved back home in her later years. We would have these big family reunions, usually the first week in August. Even as the family scattered and the siblings aged, we would gather at an aunt’s house in the summer. One of my first cousins still has reunions.
I have had these memories of Daddy tonight because my grandfather passed away the week between Christmas and New Year in the mid ‘70’s. I suppose I shall always be a Daddy’s girl. He left us just days after his seventy-first birthday, in April of 1986.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful memory of your father. One I'm sure you will be passing along to your children. Thank you for sharing this. Happy New Year!