I first wrote this in a journal almost 3 years ago. Had been going through some rough patches with work and life in general. I still believe you have to understand where you came from and what your parents went through to understand the things they did or didn’t do. I once had someone tell me that yes, they knew they had more than me materially growing up but I had both my parents that loved me and were there for me and they were sometimes jealous of that…. wow.. I would have never thought that at the time. Now I understand why they said that after raising my children and seeing what they went through having an absentee father.
It has always been my belief that you have to remember where you came from to understand and/or know where you are going. I know some don’t agree with that statement.
While I didn’t have a lot of material things growing up, I did have the love of my parents. No, they weren’t perfect, far from being perfect. My Daddy was extremely stern and not in good health as far back as I can remember.
That’s Daddy in the dress… about 1894 or 1895 I’d guess.
Daddy was born in another time, literally. He was born May 19, 1892 less than 30 years after the end of the Civil War. I can’t remotely begin to imagine what it was like growing up at the end of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. I have listened to his stories and wished a million times that I had taped them or wrote them down. Since he’s been gone I’ve tried to remember many of them and record them somehow. By understanding where he came from and the life he had I have understood more about why he acted the way he did with me.
In comparison to others in my family we hit the short end of the stick when it came to money and worldly possessions. Many years ago I realized it is not all about what you have or even what others think you might have. I remember my home being a happy place with no drinking (after a brief few years) and a father that didn’t cheat on my mother in comparison to others I knew. I remember a couple of winters when I was in grade/middle school that Daddy was really sick and Momma was not well either. We had a neighbor that used to come over to the house and bring our wood and coal in and Daddy would give him some for helping us. This was a black family and one of the best neighbors I can remember having.
Daddy had a friend that he used to go to the distillery with to buy liquor. If Daddy didn’t partake then all was right in the world. The last time I remember him doing that I was in the first grade. There was some snow on the ground and when John King brought him home, he pulled up, let him out and took off like a bat of out hell. Daddy was beyond comprehending that he needed to come in the house and proceeded to lay down in the snow in the front yard. It took all the strength Momma and I could muster to get him in the house. I was scared to death that something was going to happen to him. The next morning Daddy and Momma had come to Jesus meeting, when he realized what had happened and how scared I was, not counting how mad Momma was, he “swore off” drinking. The only time I saw him drink anything stronger than tea or coffee again was a little wine and make a “hot totty” when we had a bad cold or the flu.
We made wine and grape jelly for the local cabbie. He would raise the grapes and furnish the sugar and we’d get half of everything for doing the work. I remember the smells and tastes and yeah, I remember what the homemade wine tasted like.
No, my parents weren’t perfect, Daddy had a temper and I felt the brunt of it more than one time in my life. He had a brown leather razor strap that he used to keep his straight razors that he shaved with sharp. Not only did it keep them sharp it found my backside more than I like to admit. Unfortunately that wasn’t the only thing he used, whatever was handy – a switch, his belt – and whichever end that hit. Man oh man, it hurts to get hit on your back and legs with the buckle end of the belt. I have tried my best to forget those things; I forgave him a long time ago. I know I did things and said things I shouldn’t have said and while he shouldn’t have reacted the way he did – again none of us are perfect. I was not the perfect parent either and wished many times I had the razor strap when my kids were unruly and wouldn’t listen to me or back talked me, especially after they became teenagers.
Lately I’ve spent a lot of hours going through photos I’ve collected over the years and trying to scan, upload to Facebook, and share with others in my family. This brought back a lot of good and bad memories and I finally stopped, either because I was tired or I just didn’t want to remember anymore right now.
More to come ……………..