This is one of my favorite pictures of my Daddy. It shows without words his wonderful sense of humor.
I am so fortunate that I still have both of my parents and they are in great health, they go to the gym together everyday and work in their massive yard all the time. At 83, he still works, because he loves what he does, and just took on two jobs, as senior project manager that will each last three years. I won't get to be with him today, because he is leaving to go visit one of the project sites today.
My Daddy has more integrity than anyone I have ever known. He was an Eagle Scout and epitomizes obeying the "scout law" in every way. He is loyal, trustworthy, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, thrifty, cheerful, brave, clean and reverent.
I was his first child. I know there is a learning curve when you become a parent for the first time. Because of the way I am, I made that curve a little steeper for him. He was raised to be obedient, in an era when children were to be seen and not heard. Well...I don't think he was quite prepared for a child that was not so much for obedience, but for trying everything and I DEFINITELY wanted to be HEARD....always. I broke him in pretty well for my siblings. (Charles, Lella and Mary Clayton- you're welcome)
My brother came along three years later and then my sister, Lella four years after that. They were both much more the kind of children that he preferred. They were quieter, MUCH more obedient, they didn't push the envelope, they didn't do things that made him want to tear his hair out. I spent a great deal of my time, especially as a teenager- in my room. Daddy thought a good reason for anything was "because I said so". Me, not so much. I really wanted the reason. I wasn't being disrespectful, I really wanted to know. Maybe he just didn't have the patience to explain, but most likely I think that it was because if he said it- that should be the end of it. I tested his patience a great deal, and therefore I heard "go to your room" A LOT!
Freshman Father's Weekend at College
And THEN, when I was a freshman in college, my mother called and told me she was pregnant. At first I thought that was a joke, so I asked to speak to Daddy. I asked him "How did this happen" and his response, "You know how your mother is when she wants something". My sister was no accident and I was the only person at freshman parents weekend with a pregnant mother. Mary Clayton was born the day after I came home from my freshman year in college. I turned 19 three weeks later. She is much more like me, so here they go again! I know it has kept my parents young, although that is about the time Daddy started getting gray hair and Mama started dying hers. She said people at the kindergarten parents meetings thought she was the grandmother. No doubt they could both run circles around those people today.
Daddy has always been kind to others, done things to help people that I found out about years later and I am sure there are things that we have never found out about, because that is just the way he is.
Now just to be clear, he is no saint. He can tell a great dirty joke, although in today's world they wouldn't even be considered dirty anymore. He can irritate my mother, when before he is finished eating lunch, he is asking what's for dinner. He is a creature of habit. And this pretty much drives us all crazy from time to time. He is ALWAYS on time- actually early- my mother...um, no. That drives HIM crazy. I inherited this from him, I cannot be late anywhere- I am always early.
The main thing I inherited from Daddy is my artistic talent. He is a wonderful artist, although he doesn't really draw or paint much, he is so good at it. Meticulous, but good. He can paint a bird that looks like it could fly off the page, every detail of every feather- this I did NOT inherit. He also taught me my love of building things. I have more power tools than most men I know and I know how to operate them thanks to Daddy.
He is a wonderful grandfather and great-grandfather. My boys love to play golf with him- except when he beats them (which happens more than they admit).
One of the traditions Daddy started when I was a child was to read the Night Before Christmas and the Christmas story from the Bible to us on Christmas Eve. We spent a lot of Christmases together when our children were young and he continued the tradition with his grandchildren.
Most of all, he has been a loving patriarch for this family. Thank you Daddy for being the man you are, for teaching me all the important things I needed to learn, even when I thought I knew everything, thank you for loving Mama and creating this beautiful ever- growing family.
I love you and will miss being with you today! Happy Father's Day.