Daddy is 83 years young today and as full of vim and vigor as ever! The photo above, tells a story of Appalachia in miniature. Daddy was seven years old and the baby boy of thirteen children. He’s kneeling in front of a wood rack, the staple of any Appalachian home with only fireplaces for heat, and holding his pet twin black lambs. Black lambs were a rarity because they were, usually, killed at birth and their pelts given to Miss Viole, a neighbor who would make “mouton fur” coats for her rich clients in New York City.
Daddy, being the youngest boy, was allowed to keep these black lambs as pets. Aunt Esther told me Uncle Clarence, her husband and Daddy’s oldest brother, took this photo. She said she remembered well that day because Uncle Clarence took her to his home to introduce her to his beloved baby brother. She said Daddy was oh so proud of his lambs and, if they weren’t following him around, Daddy was following them around.
Daddy served in the Army, met Mom while he was stationed at Fort Eustis and has been a Bible believing Christian for as long as I can remember. Every year, for more than 40 years, he’s read the Bible through each and every year! One of my fondest memories is seeing Daddy and Mom reading their Bibles every morning and starting their day with just a little talk with Jesus.
Uncle Clarence started Daddy bee keeping when Daddy was twelve and found a swarm of bees on the mountain side. He told his big brother and when Uncle Clarence got off work, they both went to collect the bee swarm. Uncle Clarence gave Daddy a hive to put the bees in and said, “okay, now you’re a bee keeper!” I’ve never known Daddy to wear any sort of bee keeper equipment; he’s always so calm and patient around his bees and they never sting him, at least, not on purpose. He’s been stung when he’s accidentally squashed a bee but that’s all in self defense; the bees never willing sting Dad.
When we were children, each year Daddy would get two weeks vacation from the power company so he and Mom would pile us in the truck camper and we’d see the USA…yep in our Chevrolet…truck. One memorable trip we made it to Wall Drug Store, Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, Yellowstone and Old Faithful and a bunch of other places in those two weeks! It was on that trip Daddy and I took a helicopter ride over Mt. Rushmore and I can still remember the whoosh feeling of weightlessness when the ‘copter took off. Instinctively, I grabbed for Daddy’s arm and he laughed like a loon; he was loving it too! Daddy and Mom instilled in me a love for travel as well as a love for Jesus.
God willing, you’ll make it to 100 and achieve your goal of one century. You’ve been a blessing to all who have known you; many call you friend, one calls you husband but only three call you Daddy. We are all most blessed!
Blessings ~ Daddy ~ Mom ~ Steve ~ Stephanie ~ God centered family ~ me ~