Daddy and his two brothers and one sister were dropped off to live at an orphanage. Their parents were divorced, and both had issues. Their mother was too selfish, drunk, crazy (you fill in the synonym you want) to raise her four children. Instead, she left them for someone else to deal with. Many of the stories Daddy has told us about his childhood are not happy. In one way, he was spoiled since he lived in an orphanage. All the nearby Christians made themselves feel better by giving the little orphans gifts. However, material things were about all he got. He has told stories of meanness and cruelty from the house parents who raised him. They were not all bad, but many of them did their share of damage to him and his siblings. Some of the things that were said and done to him were horrible and would damage anyone who endured them.
To meet Daddy, you would never know the terrible circumstances he came from. He has been married almost 44 years. He has raised two daughters who are well balanced and terrific, if we do say so ourselves. He has been just about the best granddaddy a kid could ask for.
Daddy was steady in his job for all of my childhood. After he had been there over 25 years, he left to start his own business. He built his company from nothing to a business that was doing multi-million dollar annual sales. This wasn’t bad for a little orphan boy from South Carolina.
Daddy and I had some rocky years way-back-when. I won’t even get into those as it doesn’t matter. Even during that time, I knew that he loved me, and I knew that he would take care of me. He has provided financial support for me, sometimes even in my adult years. When we were running our pottery business, I often said that we were only staying afloat by the grace of God and my daddy. He and Mama helped us tremendously and without complaint.
Daddy has always had a great sense of humor. I think I got my charming wit from him. (And my humility.) I did get my ability to write useless poetry from him; that much I know is true. Daddy can make up silly rhymes on command. They may be stupid, but they will have iambic pentameter.
Daddy has always joked with my friends and made them feel at ease. A good rule of thumb as a teenager was, if my friends couldn’t understand my father’s humor, they were probably someone I didn’t want to hang around with, because my humor and his humor were a lot alike. When Willow, my best friend, first met Daddy, I was introducing her to him. I said I wasn’t sure what she could call him, and he said, “You can call me Sir.” To this day, Willow calls him “Sir” and even addresses cards to “Sir.” They have a fun relationship that made her feel like part of our family.
One thing I obviously did not get from my father is his athletic ability. He has been a runner my whole life. He ran triathlons, half marathons and even marathons. Several years ago, he had to stop running so much because he developed arthritis in his hips. However, just recently, the man has started running again. At almost 67 years old, the man is running 14 miles. Yeah. I definitely didn’t get that from him. I’ll only run if I’m being chased by a wild animal, and then, the wild animal is likely to win.
I don’t tell Daddy this nearly often enough (or ever), but I am proud of him and what he has become. He did not let his childhood determine his destiny. Instead, he rose from the circumstances and built his life and his family. He is a good man, a good father and a good grandfather. My sister and I are blessed to have him! (And in case he reads this, as I’m pretty sure he will, Happy Father’s Day, Daddy! I love you!) -Al