Friday, September 27, 2013
“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” ― Umberto Eco
My father would have been 99 years old on Wednesday. We had new Australian guests and I thought it more appropriate to write about them, but that doesn't mean he wasn't on my mind. While we did not get along very well, we did share many games of golf, and many fishing trips in San Antonio Bay off the Gulf of Mexico. We watched many, many football games together, and he took me to my first pro football game when I was twelve and I'll never forget it. We couldn't talk politics, and it was almost impossible to please him or to ever hear any praise from him. The first time I saw the words "I love you" were on a birthday card he sent me when he was 87 years old. We sometimes went years without speaking, yet he was the most important influence in my life. I wanted to be like him. He was kind, generous, religious, honest, caring, and extremely passionate about people who had less than he did. He hired the first black sales people at any Sears, Roebuck store (he was the manager of the store in Alexandria, Louisiana, in 1963 and got a letter of appreciation from the NAACP. He tore out the "colored" water fountains and bathrooms in the Sears store in Alexandria. We got our yard burned and my mother's car was knocked into a ditch while she was driving home one night, but he never wavered. He paid for the children of dock workers and janitors to go to college, and when he was sent to manage the several Sears stores in Corpus Christi, Texas, he learned Spanish so he could talk to the cleaning staff. Every really positive trait I possess (generosity, compassion, caring for the poor, etc.), I learned from him. He died at 89 from leukemia after only being sick for one month. I miss him terribly and found out last year that he had saved every newspaper, magazine article, and letter that I had ever written him. He had loved me very much, but he didn't know how to tell me. I know now, Dad. Rest in peace. The picture at the right was shot in our house in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in the 1980's. A house he bought and then rented to us because we were financially strapped.