Saturday, June 20, 2015

Time to Make the Donuts...A Tribute to my Daddy

It was dark outside and I couldn’t find my mom or my dad…they weren’t in their bed - where they always were when I awoke scared in the middle of the night - so I went to the kitchen and my maybe 5-year-old little hands picked-up the phone receiver. I dialed a series of numbers on the phone with the long, tangled, curly cord. I heard my daddy’s voice. I’m not sure what I said but I remember him telling me he was at the restaurant making donuts and he would be right there.

I was wearing one of his t-shirts, which is what us little girls slept in most of the time. It was probably 4:30 a.m. when he walked through the door, scooped me up, and took me to the Mini-Burger restaurant where the staff was making donuts for the morning. He let me eat all that I wanted, fixed me milk, and then carried me home and tucked me back in bed. I remember us repeating this routine many times. I thought I was the most special daughter in the house because I had a secret the other girls didn’t know. I got donuts every morning. There were seven daughters total...can you imagine...
As a parent, I look back now and see all the love, patience, and guidance my daddy cared for us girls with.

If that had been me, I would have told the child on the phone to go back to bed, I’d be home soon, and maybe I’d bring donuts if they would obey me. But he didn’t do that, he stopped what he was doing and walked to the house and carried me to the store to pick-out my donuts, fix me milk, and carry me back home, morning after morning.

This one story sums up every attribute he was as a daddy. We were always first, always loved, always patient with us, always supported. I cannot begin to layout all of the things this man was to so many people, and even begin to outline almost 8 decades of his life. Husband, Father, Grand and Great-Grand Father, Entrepreneur, Cook Extraordinaire, Truck-Driver, Carpenter, Cabinet-Maker, Fire Chief, Logger, Grocery Store/Gas Station Owner and Restaurateur, Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and much, much, more.
He would always say to me, “Honey, I’ve forgotten more than you’ll ever know.” And I believe that.

My friends knew him for chocolate gravy & biscuits, fried squash, and potato soup. He loved to cook but those were his most famous dishes.

My very core is similar to this man. His mind never rested, he was constantly thinking of a better way, or a new way to do something. He rarely completed a project because his mind worked ahead of his body and he would leave one project to get started on the next. His skill level was unbelievable, and wasn’t contained to one area of expertise - even though he worked with wood most of his life. He truly was a genius and could literally make anything work.

My car broke down in Louisville, 1994 - another blown head gasket - dad had replaced it about four times already. The car was towed to a nearby service station, the tech, named Jim, called me to ask who had made the last repairs on my car. “My daddy, why?” I asked. “Is he a carpenter by chance?” asked Jim. He went on to laugh and say that the head gasket dad placed on my car was too small so he made up the difference with a piece of wood, which worked for about six months until the wood was drenched with oil and bowed; making the car think the head gasket was blown.

Multiple stories flood my mind as Father‘s Day approaches; the first without him.

As a little girl it was fun to be his daughter, there was always an adventure brewing when he would haul in loads of old cameras, computers, chairs, etc. We would play with that stuff for days on end. He was a collector of all things…

He never treated anyone differently. He exalted those less fortunate, always giving a hand-up, never a hand-out.

He taught me to be honest, resourceful, kind, patient, resilient, and a people person. It was important to dad that us girls were not “backward & shy,” so he would make us wait tables at very young ages at the restaurant to equip us as adults. We stacked wood to burn in the winter at the young ages of around 6-10, and would play in our pool on hot summer days. He also struck a perfect balance of hard work and play.

I loved him more than even I knew…my heart is broken as we said good-bye this winter.
The most important lesson he taught was to get up and make the donuts, and then stop and enjoy eating them with your baby girl.