This week my daddy will be 91 years old.
Some of my favorite memories of my whole life include riding in the truck with Daddy around our property on Sundays after church, while Mama cooked Sunday dinner. Daddy would drive down to the river through fields where we’d look for arrowheads. Often we’d visit folks on their porches that lived in the woods on winding dirt roads or up in the red hills. Sometimes, after the farmers had picked their fields, we’d pull up enough peanuts to bring home to boil.
In his rural grocery stores, Daddy hosted potluck dinners and oyster shuckings. At those gatherings I was privy to stories from natural storytellers, and I learned to appreciate the differences in people as well as the things we have in common.
One of our most memorable regular customers was a man who ate raw eggs. He’d tap the shell on his front teeth to crack it and suck the egg into his mouth. Another regular customer had a 1920s movie idol tattooed over most of his arm, and yet another bit part of Mr. Wrestling’s finger off in the late 1960s.
Daddy gave me some solid advice when I was impressionable and a bit too idealistic, such as not to trust a preacher any farther than I’d trust anybody else because “sometimes folks lose their minds over religion.” And to pray that I never had reason to touch a gun.
When he was Justice of the Peace, he pointed out to me that most folks don’t want you to say they’re crazy until the law catches them doing something wrong, and then they go looking for an insanity defense.
We haven’t always agreed on every topic, but most of his words of wisdom have proven true.
After I left home for college, Daddy made countless trips to Auburn over the years to change flat tires, charge dead car batteries, mow my lawn, fix my leaking faucets, and help me build fences that would keep my dogs safe. He and Mama have loaned me money when I was broke and babysat my son when he was little and I had to work. They have come to Auburn to help me nurse sick dogs back to health, and they’ve helped me dig graves in Jernigan, through tears, for the ones who have died.
When I think about Daddy, I think of Loretta Lynn’s song:
“They don’t make men like my daddy anymore
Guess they’ve thrown away the pattern through the years
In a great big land of freedom at a time we really need ‘em
They don’t make ‘em like my daddy anymore.”
Happy birthday, Daddy.
Marian Carcache welcomes
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