Dad’s birthday was yesterday. He would have been 83 years old. He passed away in 2006 and I think about him from time to time. Usually, it is a circumstance that he would have been interested in or it could be I just wanted him to help counsel my boys in college or my daughter in high school from a non-parental view. Mom kept his voice on the answering machine until this past year, when her machine needed replacing. She wanted a man’s voice to dissuade other from thinking there was no man in the house. I must confess, it gave me chills even seven years after his death to hear his voice on the answering machine.
I wrote about “Lessons from Dad” on Father’s Day, 2012. Here is the link: https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/lessons-from-dad/. Like all of us, Dad was not perfect, but he was a terrific mentor and role model. His funeral was very well attended by former workers and college friends, some couples who were still married, like my mother and father, who met in college. He was a beloved supervisor and the stories of his working alongside his colleagues overtime are many. But, also the stories of his staying up all night to smoke a ham and turkey in his smoker were many. He often would promote having picnics in the office where everyone brought something in. I would wager his colleagues did this at least four times a year.
Dad loved to cook on the grill or with his smokers. He also loved making Oyster or Brunswick stew. I used to tease him that he would always bring a wingless chicken in from the grill. He would sample the wings outside as he said they absorbed most of the seasoning. He also made the best roast beef on the grill. He had several approaches, but I have never found anything like it in a restaurant. And, like the picnics above, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter would always have him smoking a ham and turkey.
Dad was happiest when his grandchildren were over. He loved watching ball games with my older brother’s son who lived in the same city. Dad was a great athlete in college – basketball, baseball and track – so he loved to watch all, especially basketball and golf. He was married to my Mom for 55 years, so they were devoted to each other. His Achilles’ Heels included a couple of bad habits that would affect his health later on. He did cease the habits, but some damage was done.
Dad started smoking when he was 12 years old. That was not unusual in rural Georgia where he was raised. He did stop ten years before his death, but I believe it was due to direct doctor’s orders. This was a major reason he had blood circulation issues and several stents later on. He also drank way too much and, though, he also stopped this bad habit, some lingering effects remained. I will write more about this in a few weeks, as his youngest son had this bad habit as well. The only times he and Mom would have words is when he drank. And, the only times he would have lapses of reliability were when he drank.
Yet, setting those aside, my memories of Dad are very positive. He was my ball coach, my mentor and my inspiration. He was not perfect, but he was great. I love you Dad.