I wrote my Mother’s Day post about my Mama, so naturally I’ve been thinking of what to write about my Daddy for Father’s Day. The memories I made with Daddy are very different than the ones with Mama.
This time of the year, we have vegetable gardening that can keep us busy at Mama’s and Daddy’s. Mama doesn’t go into the big field anymore, so I do that part of gardening with Daddy. When my grandparents were no longer able to have big family gardens, Daddy started our family garden. Corn, Peas, Butterbeans, Squash, Tomatoes, Okra, and Green Beans were planted most every year. Over time Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, and Butterbeans were planted on alternating years. When Joey and I were young and still entering things in the Claiborne Parish fair Daddy taught us how to judge a good ear of corn, and a good sweet potato. I don’t remember which strain of corn we used, but we decided Red Jewel potatoes had the best shape, size, and flavor. The judges at the fair agreed. We got blue and red ribbons, and prize money. Thankfully Daddy is still able to have a family garden that supports him and Mama, Joey and his family, and me and my family. Daddy always had a full time job, and worked for the family at home, too. Whether it was raising cows for years, raising a produce garden, or hunting, he has always been a great provider for his family, and shared with other people he knew of who needed it.
We raised horses for a long time, and our first was Cricket, a Palomino that we all loved. When she was old enough Daddy taught us how to ride. When we had another horse that he could ride he took us riding with him; sometimes just one of us with him and sometimes on a trail ride with the rodeo club we were members of. Either way it was a special time. We also went to local rodeos where Daddy rode Cricket in several events: barrels, flags, pole bending, roping and western pleasure. He also had her trained to “cut” horses off to help riders off of a bronco in the bronco event. Daddy and another man did this as a team, and were called “Pick-Up Men.” We spent time with our friends at the rodeos, but we were proud of what Daddy was doing in the events.
When I was about 12 years old, and Joey was about 9, Daddy took us up in the pasture and taught us about gun safety. We were a hunting family, so that was a normal thing to do and a skill to be used responsibly and safely. By the time he allowed us to take a shot at a squirrel, he had done at least as thorough a job of gun safety and responsibility as is taught in a class today if not more so. Daddy began taking us hunting a while after our training was complete according to his standards, but we weren’t allowed to handle the gun till we had gone on several trips with him. He would wake us up before dawn to get to the creek before the animals started stirring. On those trips Daddy taught us how to be good followers. We were never to let a branch or bush slap the person who was behind; ever. There would be Daddy, Joey, and me one trip, then the next time there would me and then Joey behind Daddy. We never broke the “branch slapping rule” since we knew the next trip we would be behind.
He had a hard fast rule about walking, too. We were to only step where he stepped, and when he stepped, so the sound was the same as one person; as opposed to one person and two elephants. Joey and I got pretty good at it, but I never could figure out how in the world Daddy could miss stepping on all the dry twigs and still step quiet on those dry crunchy leaves. That’s a mystery that will remain, because even though we got really good at that, we never mastered it like Daddy did.
We would walk down into the woods to the creek there, and then continue on walking in the nearly dry creek bed. As the creek banks got taller, it was harder for the squirrels to see us coming. Sometimes we didn’t have to go far to get several, but sometimes we had to go further. It didn’t matter to Joey and me; we just loved going along. I remember Daddy handing me the gun, pointing to make sure I saw just where to shoot, and then shooting my first Fox Squirrel out of a tree. There was no feeling like it; knowing I was helping put meat on the table, too. I went on to get several Fox Squirrels for our table, but as fast as they are, I never did get a Cat Squirrel.
There is a pond down the hill from the house that we swam in. Back then we could buy foam ski belts, and didn’t have to buy the life jackets like today. Joey learned to swim young, but as hard as Daddy tried to teach me, I had a hard time relaxing enough to learn. I had seen Joey and a cousin dunk each other mercilessly, and was always nervous in the water because of that. Finally I watched another cousin take swimming lessons enough that I practiced what she did, and learned how to swim.
As far back as I can remember my parents taught us about Jesus, and paved the way in our hearts and minds for that time when we would understand our need for Him as our Lord and Savior. We both did so when we were children. Mama and Daddy were both active at church, taught children’s’ Sunday School and mission classes. I knew that was important, and I’m so thankful for the gift of faith in Jesus that Daddy and Mama passed on to us, and also to our children. I want to thank you, Daddy, for the gifts you gave to me in the things you taught me along the way. My children benefitted from the way you and Mama raised me, and I am so grateful God gave you to me for my Daddy. There’s no way I can ever repay you for the gifts you’ve given me over the years. I love you more than you can ever know.
Have A Very Blessed Fathers’ Day