Dad did good (a revisit)

My Dad had a hard life growing up. His parents split up early and neither played a big role in his formative years. Fortunately, he was provided a safety net that would not let him fail. He was raised by his Great Aunt and Uncle.

His Uncle ran a general store in a small Georgia town. My Dad was asked to help out there. This eventually led my Dad to start his career with a regional supermarket after college and a stint in the Navy. More on that later.

He went to college in north Georgia, but it was under a required work study program.  You had to work to attend and that was the only way the students could afford the tuition costs. He met my mother there and they married in 1951 and moved to Jacksonville, FL.*

He had a stint in the Navy when the Korean Conflict started joining with several friends. Serving on an aircraft carrier, he learned of 25 second showers, discipline and visited some exotic places,  Once home, he decided soon a supermarket career was not for him. Even with his low salary, he would have to cover bounced checks as a manager.

He and his good friend George decided to move into this career called data processing, the precursor to IT. He worked for a regional insurance company and eventually worked his way up. He was there until he retired in the early 1990s.

He and my Mom raised us three kids. She was a schoolteacher. I mentioned in my last post in a comment that he would pitch batting practice to me after work and coached me on occasion. He was a very good athlete in college playing basketball, baseball and track.

He also was a great outdoor cook. He would love to smoke hams and turkeys, and cooked a mean roast and chicken. He would tease us saying the chicken did not have any wings, as he would sample them outside. His team would have indoor office picnics and he would usually bring a ham or turkey. They tended to request this of him.

He and my Mom were a great couple, married for 54 years. He died too early after a life of smoking and drinking, even though he quit both a dozen years before he passed. Like me, my Dad was an alcoholic. I stopped drinking myself the year after he died.

When he passed in 2006, there were a half dozen couples that met in college like my parents and were still together that came to his funeral. He was remembered well, but it was a tribute to Mom, too. My Dad was not perfect, but he was a good man, husband and father. I love you Dad. Your lessons are remembered and appreciated

*Note: I learned in the past two years, my father was on the lumber crew at college. One of his college classmates and good friends from back home told me they would go into the nearby forests and saw down trees a couple of days, then haul them back to campus the next two days. After that, they would saw them up at the sawmill. He said when they were teens, they would work for the power company and go into the swamps of south Georgia and cut down trees. They had waders on to protect them from the elements, which included snakes and alligators. Hard labor is an understatement.

21 thoughts on “Dad did good (a revisit)

  1. Note to Readers: My Mom and Dad met when she arrived late to a basketball game my Dad was playing in. It was one of those old gyms with the pull out bleachers and very little room at the end of the court. So, she sat down on the first row awaiting the teams to go to the other end of the court so she could join her classmates behind the team. My Dad chased a loose ball headed toward her and landed in her lap. The rest is history with a large dose of kismet.

  2. It sounds like your Dad lived through a different era, when the effects of unhealthy habits were not well-publicized. And men did not worry about things like gators! Goodness! And 25-second showers? I could do 1 minute but 25 secs is pushing it. How courageous they were. I can read in the words the respect and love you had for your Dad but you had no illusions about his imperfections, which we all have. What was it that triggered your change of habit with alcohol? Was it only your Father’s passing?

  3. Keith, this is not only a beautiful but so insightful tribute to a father, husband, and man who lived his life to the best he could. I can imagine that he was a role model but you also learned from the things you should not apply to your life. So, a great teacher all over.
    Enjoy your Father’s Day, Keith!

    • Thanks Erika. You and Amanda hit the nails on the head. He was a very good man and would do anything to help people. He was a good manager of people as well. And, he was a wonderful father, except when his drinking became too much of a problem. When he stopped smoking then drinking, we were quite sure it was from doctor’s orders. Keith

      • I wish my father had taken that leap too to stop drinking. It would have changed a lot. Because he would have needed to find solutions to distance from his (self-induced) daily stress as a entrepreneur and manager. But it was his journey. And by all the difficulties it brought, it taught me exactly that and to pull the plug early enough… and to stay away from alcohol…
        This post is precious in many ways, Keith!

      • Thanks Erika. When I first wrote about why I stopped drinking, it resonated with many, either due to their demons or those of their loved ones. I am glad you gleaned the right lessons early on. Thanks for telling me why it spoke to you. Keith

  4. Note to Readers II: My father would come home during the summer when I was a middle schooler and pitch baseball batting practice. Being a father now, I know how tired he must have been. But, he would go out to the field behind our house and throw me a bucket of thirty or so baseballs, then I would retrieve them and he would do it again. I told my best friends he was my 40 year old pitching machine. When he coached the team, he would put a lemon quarter in his mouth as he hit infield and outfield practice. That was his way of staying hydrated. Thanks Dad.

  5. From good people come good people. You had good examples to learn from, and you have also been the good example for your own children who, from what little I know, are good people. This is how we make the world a little bit better place. I would have liked your dad, for sure.

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