Mewsings from Lowecat (aka Indianacat)

My rants, ravings, and overall 'mewsings' on life, the universe, and everything.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Daddy Has Gone to a Better Place.

My daddy died today.

Wow.  Four little words that have altered my life forever. 

See the picture to the right?  That's my daddy from seven years ago.  It was taken when my step - mother was at Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, for back surgery.  He was still pretty energetic then, able to wear his contacts and get around pretty good. 

Five years later, in 2009, Daddy started to lose that vitality and enregy.  He still had a positive outlook, but daily things like dealin' with the mail and the house were becomin' more
difficult for him.  

Daddy was born in Harrison County, IN, in 1927.  He grew up on a family farm.  He was the oldest of three surviving children.   He loved workin' on the farm, even in later years after Grandpa had gone from farming to runnin' up and down telephone poles to keep the Farmer's Telephone Company in operation.  Though there weren't animals on the farm - except for cats and the dog - we produced popcorn and tomatoes, potatoes, fruits, corn, all kinds of good things.    To him, rest and relaxation was workin' under God's sky, tillin' the land, weedin', plantin' and harvestin' the crops.  

Back before transistor radios were the thing, if he'd be weedin' or otherwise workin' on the farm without havin' to be on the tractor, he'd run a long extension cord from the milhouse to the edge of the garden and plug in a portable radio to that cord.  He'd turn the dial to WGN Chicago to listen to the Cubs play while he was workin'.   I think I know the theme song from those days by heart. 

I can remember how much Daddy enjoyed drivin' the tractor and/or workin' on the tractor.  I'd get to ride with him when he had the tiller on the back of the International Harvester, but always asked 'Why can't I ride with you with the mower deck?"  To me, the mower deck was less dangerous than those tiller blades!  

Daddy liked to work with his hands.  He was very good at maintainin' the family vehicles with regular oil changes, grease jobs, and radiator flush and fills.  I'd often hang around to 'help' and watch.  Guess where I got my love of cars from? 

As a minister, Daddy tried very hard to lead by example.  This is why he didn't drink alcohol or smoke or chew.  He firmly believed that if he was going to preach about a topic, he needed to be fully prepared with facts to back him up.  He wouldn't just preach for preachin's sake.  If he was referrin' to sports, or politics, or anything else, he would research the topic very thoroughly before he wrote his sermon.

I'm ashamed to admit that in my youth, I often was jealous of the way he deal with the congregation's kids as compared to me.  Of course he'd be a little stricter with me, I was his kid!  But sometimes he'd use a gentle tone of voice on them after I'd been scolded for some lack of decorum on my part, and the green eyed monster would rise up.   One day, in a fit of pique, I asked him why didn't he talk to me like he did the other kids?  "Because you're my child, and I love you, and it's my job to keep you on track by disciplinin' you when you need it.

We shared a love for the Chicago Cubs, the IU basketball Hoosiers, and Mopar.  My father had a wonderful sense of humor, and enjoyed gentle teasing of his sister and neices and nephews, and of his friends.  Frankly, I don't think mnay people disliked my father.  He had a way of makin' a person feel welcome upon first meetin' them. 

Daddy was human, and like any human, had his faults.  We all do.  There are things we wish we could've done differently; that if we could go back and change, we would.  Daddy once told me that he wished he'd gone to more of my basketball games when I played for Washaington High School, Washington IN.    "Daddy, you would've been bored to death!"  I assured him.  "I spent more time on the bench than I did playin'!" 

But he was there for my drama club and choral performances.  He was there for the appearances I'd make with the youth singing group at Central UMC.  He encouraged my interest in music, even acceptin' the fact that I took up guitar (thanks to my maternal grandmother!).  I'm sure it disappointed him when I chose to study broadcastin' instead of music, but he supported me anyway. 

Because he loved me. 

And because he loved me, he sometimes had to make choices that weren't easy for either of us.  When he felt he needed to remove himself as my financial safety net, he did it and stuck with it, leavin' me to sink or swim on my own.  It was the hardest thing (next to divorcin' my birth mother), he'd ever had to do.  But we survived it, and we were able to repair our relationship.

Bein' a father doesn't mean just donatin' sperm.  It means givin' of yourself - your time, talent, energy, heart, and soul.  It means sittin' up at night when your child is sick or in the hospital, which he did for all the eye operations I had as well as the tonsillectomy.  It's bein' the disciplinarian when it's needed, it's havin' the guts to hold your child accountable for their actions and behaviors.   It's sayin' 'NO' and stickin' to it.  

My daddy died today, and a big chunk of my heart died too.  But I know that he is at peace.  He went peacefully, without pain, to the next life.  And I know that while I won't get the daily phone call from him, or hear him say to me 'Give each other a hug for us, and the kitty cats a pat on the head so they know they're appreciated.', that I'll never again call his home or cell phone and talk to him just to say hi, I know that some day, if God is merciful to me, I'll get to see him again.

Daddy had two great friends in the ministry who preceeded him in death.  I take comfort in the fact that he's reunited with them, and probably havin' a grand ole time. 

My Daddy died today, but he was also born again today. 



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