Today is Father's Day, and although my Dad is no longer his Frisky Self here on earth, I am sure he is keeping things lively up in Heaven. He'll be bustling around, making sure everyone is well fed and entertained with his endless store of anecdotes and jokes.
I attended elementary school at the same place he did, and about a year before he died, he and I went and took a tour of the school. I cherish this photo of us with the old school bell - we had such a good time that day! As usual.
He was a great cook, and one of his specialties was Catfish, fried crispy Southern Style - outdoors if possible, in a deep kettle, and on the bone - no wimpy filets for him!
No one could cook catfish like my Dad, and the aroma floating in the air is something I can still remember...makes my mouth water, even now!
His other great love was gardening. Every year, he had at least one garden, and helped others out with theirs. He never got over the wonder that you could plant a tiny seed in the ground and within a couple of months, have a robust plant that would produce delicious food! Every nuance of the plant from the time it emerged from the ground until the frost took it in the Fall, was a source of wonder to him. He was always happiest in his garden, inspecting and touching the leaves, smelling the "green-ness" of it all, and babying his plants along.
Here he is in the garden he planted for his nephew, David - another Garden Lover. You can see that one of his other great loves is that Blue Plaid Shirt...same shirt as the year before. He once worried that he wore it too much, but I reassured him that it was one of the ones he looked best in. Happily, he shrugged into it, again.
David was in a battle for his life (which he won!) in 2008, so Dad planted his garden for him and took care of it. He and David walked slowly around the extensive garden almost every day in mutual bliss to check on every inch of every plant. This photo was taken barely two months before Dad died of AML - a fairly rare and very, very aggressive form of leukemia - and you can see the thrall they are in over these tomato plants. Dad never tired of this ritual in all the years of his life. To him, it was a tangible miracle.
This is about half of the garden that Dad planted for David that year...and as if that weren't enough, he would come home and work on his own garden that he had scratched out of the road right-of-way...there is an equal amount of garden on the other side of that fence!
No tribute to Dad would be complete without "The Wagon Photo", a picture taken when Dad was a baby...he is the cutie with the black hair sitting inside the wagon:
And this is him as a very young man, not too long before he went off to Europe to serve in WWII.
His life had ups and downs, pains and happiness - like most everyone else. But the special thing about my Dad was that he didn't dwell on the things he couldn't change. He just took care of it in the best way he could, looked for the happy moments, and cherished them. He didn't spend a lot of time looking backward, he was one of those people who got up in the morning and was excited to have a new day. Every day.
What a guy. What a great Father.