I have so many fond memories of Daddy when I was growing up. Things like him pushing me around the yard in our wheelbarrow, watching him build a tree house in the Mimosa tree on Smith Street in Whiteville, helping him build a walkway at our beach house on Oak Island so we could get from the house to the road without stepping on the cacti in the yard, and sitting on his lap with his arms wrapped around me while we watched westerns together, especially Gunsmoke. Then there were the times he babysat so Mom could go to her bridge club. Those were some of my favorite nights. Often he would take my sister and me to the store (Roses) and let us play with all the toys while he did paperwork in the office. He didn't worry about bedtimes but he would take us to the store in our pajamas so we could stay as long as possible. Then he was always careful to sneak us in the door right before Mom returned home, telling us to run get in the bed, pretend we were asleep and not let her know how late we were up. It was our little secret. Those were such special times and memories.
He was a very patient and understanding man. I almost never saw him riled up and often wondered how he could remain so patient. A trait I am afraid I didn't inherit but wish I did.
My Daddy taught me things by showing me how to do them. He taught me how to fish, crab, and dig for clams. He taught me how to drive a car, and maintain it... how to change a tire, change the oil, set the points and plugs, etc. He taught me all the ins and outs of dime store management... how to order and price merchandise, unload a freight truck, make signs, put together bicycles and tricycles, stock shelves, manage and clean the candy counter, measure and sell candy, cook the various types of nuts we sold, pop the popcorn, run the checkout, make change, and take inventory...the list goes on and on. And he taught me, by his example, how to interact with people.
He always told me, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” And he was right. That is something I have tried to pass that on to my children because I believe it is true. I learned so many lessons from watching my Daddy live his life; lessons that cannot be learned from a book or in school. Most importantly, he taught me how to care and be thankful. He taught me how to love unconditionally. He was a gem in the crown of life.
Daddy always took time for others...he was never so busy that he couldn't stop and chat, sit down and drink a cup of coffee with someone or just speak while passing. He always willingly gave out hugs, a smile, a kind word. He was a friend to all and had no enemies that I know of.
He was quick to forgive and never held a grudge. He understood the importance of forgiveness and reaped the benefits of it. There was nothing anyone could do that he wouldn't forgive. For him, forgiveness was a way of life. He had a heart full of compassion and treated others the way he liked to be treated.
He took life one day at a time. I don't ever remember seeing him in a hurry -- except, of course, the time he and my Uncle JP were shooting off fireworks and caught the field across the street on fire. He moved pretty fast that night, burning all the hair off his legs as he and JP proceeded to stomp out the fire. :)
Here's one example of the type of man he was (and yes, you've may have heard me share this story before so forgive the repetition)... While working for him at Roses when I was in high school, I spotted a man shoplifting and ran up to the office to alert Dad. He immediately followed me downstairs. I pointed out the shoplifter and Daddy went over to talk to him. They were speaking in low tones so I couldn't hear what was being said. Then I watched as the man put the items he had taken (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and deodorant) back in his pocket and turned to leave; Dad smiled, patting the man on the shoulder. When he returned to where I was, he explained that the man had lost his job and was homeless. Daddy said he told the man to come back whenever he needed any necessities and get whatever he needed without fear of embarrassment or getting arrested. The example of generosity I saw that day made a major impact on me. I think it was at that point that I actually saw the Life of Jesus lived out through my Dad. The homeless man would occasionally return and go straight to Daddy instead of just helping himself. They would go together, get a bag and find what the man needed and Daddy would bag it for him then send him on his way. The man never took advantage of Dad's generosity. He was very appreciative and respectful. Of course, mind you, Daddy had no problem having a shoplifter arrested when they were stealing for the sake of stealing. He held honesty, truth and integrity in high regard and exemplified those traits in his life.
I guess as I watched Daddy in his later years when he started pocketing American flags and pens at the retirement home, or paper placemats and peppermints at restaurants, I realized he must have felt he was entitled for the generosity he had shown while managing Roses....Or maybe that's just part of getting old. Hahaha!
When our two children, Jamie and Mark were born, Dad immediately fell in love with them. They were his pride and joy. He always wanted to show them off and spend time with them every chance he got. Whenever one of them walked in a room where he was, his face lit up. It thrilled my heart to watch him interact with them, always with a twinkle in his eyes. If he had only been younger when they were born, there would have had so many more wonderful memories and lessons they could have learned from him. I must admit it was a little sad that he was as old as he was when they arrived on the scene but the timing was God's plan and that's the way it was meant to be. It is my hope and prayer that Jamie and Mark will always remember their granddaddy, aka "Poppy" and that he loved both of them as much as life itself. Jamie and Mark have received so many of Daddy's good traits and it makes my heart sing to see part of him live on in their lives. They are his legacy!
Thanks for letting me reminisce. I hope I haven't bored you too much. My Daddy meant the world to me and I just wanted to share with you a few of the memories I have of him.
Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you and I miss you!