I have a unending stream of fantastic memories of my Dad. Once, when we were road tripping with the Phillips family, there wasn’t enough room for all of us and all the luggage in the station wagon we were taking. Dad built a huge luggage box to put on top of the vehicle, painted it bright yellow, and as a finishing touch, put a huge smiley face on the front of it. I don’t know for sure, but I think that was the same vacation that, completely unintentionally, Dad walked out of a McDonald’s without paying.
Building stuff for 4-H woodworking projects. The first time I accidentally swore in front of him. Those two happened at the same time. In all fairness, I thought I had cut myself.
My favorite memory of Dad didn’t happen that long ago. August of last year, not long before we found out how sick Dad was.
He and I had spent the day working on replacing my back porch. It had been a long day of work, with him cutting deck boards almost as fast as I could get them screwed into place. We were both just about done in by the drive home. About the time we hit Seneca Lake, we pulled up behind a truck hauling compressed air cylinders of some sort. The license plates were from Louisiana, I think. That or Mississippi. Either way, the driver was a long way from home.
The guy wasn’t going very fast. He never got much above 45, and when a hill or a turn came around, he was down to 25 or 30. Dad, patient as ever, just fell in behind him without even thinking about passing. After a few minutes, Dad said, “This poor guy is lost.”
Once we made it to Baileys Mills, after about twenty minutes and probably five or six variations of “this poor guy is lost” from Dad, the truck pulled off to the side of the road, and Dad pulled right in behind him. The guy, about 70 years old or so, got out of his truck and slowly made his way back to our driver’s side window. He asks Dad, in a thick southern accent, “Sir, I was wondering if you could help me.”
“I’d sure like to,” replied Dad.
And that pretty much sums up Dad.
It didn’t matter if you were his son, or a stranger from a thousand miles away. You might just need lead to a gas station and pointed towards Alledonia. Or you might need a new back porch. It didn’t matter if he had something else he wanted to do, or if he was just tired and wanted to go home.
I’d sure like to. No promise that he was going to be able to help you, but he sure was going to try. No guarantee that he even knew how to do what you needed, not that it really mattered because he could build or fix most anything, and what he didn’t know how to do, he would just learn. Then he would help you.
Even if he had just spent his whole day helping someone, he still had time to help someone else on the way home.
Tomorrow is the 3C’s Cancer Support Group’s annual walk, and this year it’s being held in honor of my Dad. They are fantastic group that helps cancer patients of Belmont County with money for gas to get to doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy treatments, groceries, utility bills, you name it.
Just about anything you might need a little help with. Just like Dad.