Several years ago, someone asked me why I still called my father “daddy” when I was now an adult. My answer was that’s what I’ve always called him. And that’s what he’ll always be to me.
Actually, when I was a toddler, I called him “diddy.” So did my brothers Greg and Herbert and my sister Maria. I don’t know why, but we just did.
One day, I called him “daddy.” I’m not sure why, but my older brother Greg laughed and said, “Daddy? What are you, a baby? His name is diddy.”
But it caught on. Now we all call him “daddy.” And none of us “kids” are under age 40.
Daddy is in his 70’s and still in fairly good health, for which I’m thankful.
I love him, and he’ll always hold a special place in my heart. I’m thinking about him this Father’s Day.
Here’s the things I remember about daddy:
- Up until the time I was in my mid-20’s, daddy always had thick, jet-black hair and seemed 7 feet high – although he’s actually not even 6 feet tall. My uncle William was and both my brothers are over 6 feet high, while my sister Maria and I are both under 5 feet 5 inches. Daddy’s black hair was one of the characteristics my mom loved about him. She thought he was very handsome and often told him so. Daddy’s hair seemed to turn grey overnight, in direct proportion to how much rebellion I was in throughout my 20’s, which must have caused him to age rapidly from worry and stress. (Forgive me, Lord!) His hair is now nearly all white. But as the expression goes, women get old; men age gracefully and just look distinguished. Daddy is still very distinguished looking. 🙂
- Trips to Dairy Queen. Occasionally on week nights or weekends, we’d all pile into the big Oldsmobile car and go to the Dairy Queen in town for a family treat. My mom, my brothers, and my sister would ask for a plain, vanilla ice cream cone, or if they were a little daring, a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone (my dad is very frugal, being a CPA). Being my father’s “pet” as my mother called it, I used to have the ability to wrap my father around my little pinky, and sometimes I would ask for a banana split! And he’d buy me one, which the family resented ~ but it made me really happy! This boldness on my part reminds me of my relationship with God. “Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.” ~ John 16:24
- Grilled steaks on Friday night. As a child, my favorite meal was grilled steak. Daddy grilled my steak to perfection: medium rare, just a little pink, with the juices flowing. Another fave and often-asked-for meal was fried catfish, cheese grits, and hushpuppies. I really miss those southern fish fries! This week Ray, our daughters, and granddaughters went to Lutfi’s Fried Fish & Chicken Restaurant in Belton, MO, for a Father’s Day dinner. It was fantastic and I could swear, the cooks were from the good ol’ South!
- A Country Club member. As a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), my father had his own home business. He knew the importance of networking to get new clients. The Country Club was a way to connect with his business peers and meet new people. During the summer, my brother Greg, my sister Maria, and I went to the Country club pool to swim. Afterwards, we would often order food at the grill, and charge it to daddy’s account. To me this was the ultimate in coolness. Swimming and free, delicious food with a COKE? Until daddy injured his back, he played golf at the Country Club. I never got into the game of golf, although I loved driving the buggy around. Whenever I see a golf club, I always think of daddy.
- His laugh. My father is NOT an outgoing, bubbly, giggly Sanguine personality. He has a serious, melancholy personality and he doesn’t have a very strong sense of humor and rarely even smiles. But when he does laugh, it is a carefree, big laugh and it has always made me smile or laugh.
- His strong work ethic. My dad was the son of a tobacco farmer, and there were a lot of farmers in our family history. Daddy was expected from an early age to work hard on the farm. He, his brother William, and his sister Betty worked from sunrise to help with the crops, and to help after school. His father was a petite, skinny man with a bad temper who cursed and who didn’t tolerate any form of laziness. I never knew my grandfather Leland Moore, because he died of a heart attack before I was even born. My dad inherited his strong work ethic, but steered his life in another direction: college education. In fact, daddy was the first college graduate in his family. My father expected us to study hard in school and do well in our education. He was also fanatical about any of us kids being lazy and would nearly panic if we slept in past 8 a.m or were watching The Flinstones or Gilligan’s Island on t.v. after school. He would get us up early even on Saturday mornings to vacuum the house, rake the leaves, wash the wrap-around front porch, wash and fold laundry, dust, or do anything to avoid doing nothing, a cardinal sin in my father’s mind. We resented this work growing up, but today I am so thankful because it taught me the value of hard work for my home business and to not be lazy.
- A check. I moved to the mid-west when I was in my mid-20’s, and I don’t get to fly back home to the south very often because of the expense. The physical distance makes it hard to maintain close relationships with my family, although my sister Maria and I are closer than anyone and talk by phone or email regularly. (I also write her long letters!) One way my dad demonstrates his love toward his children and his grandchildren is through writing them a check, a form of gift-giving that Dr. Gary Chapman writes about in The 5 Love Languages. At Christmas and on birthdays, we get checks in the mail. Daddy always makes a little notation in the left bottom corner: Elizabeth Moore Jones. I don’t know why he doesn’t just write “Beth Jones,” what people usually call me. At other times in my life, when I’ve been in a pinch financially, daddy has written me a check. While not what the world would call wealthy, my father is extremely frugal and wise with his finances, and seems to always have a surplus of savings to draw from if needed or wanted. I’ve always admired his ability to be able to do this. I’ve always greatly appreciated daddy helping me out when I was in need, and to bless me, our kids and our grandkids at Christmas and on our birthdays. Money is not love, but it sure helps at times and is a delightful surprise in the mail. 🙂
There’s many other things I remember about daddy, like him whistling sometimes, him listening to Roger Miller’s song King of the Road or classical music on the radio in the car, telling me how I needed to acquire a taste for all genres of music, and him affectionately calling me squirtdobber.
I remember him cutting open red, juicy watermelon in the summer for us, boiling peanuts in salt, making home-made ice cream.
I remember him watching Flip Wilson or Hee Haw on t.v. with us kids, one of those rare moments he laughed.
I remember when I brought home an A on my report card from school and he asked me why I didn’t make an A+. He was always pushing me to work harder, to excel in all I did.
I remember his smile as we opened our presents at Christmas – presents he and mama couldn’t always afford, but they did their best to get us what we wanted.
I remember him taking us on summer vacations to the beach for a week in Florida, so we could all relax and have fun for awhile in the ocean.
It’s been hard for me to watch my father growing older. I know one day he’ll leave this earth, and I dread that day saying goodbye to him.
My prayer is that he has a Happy Father’s Day today.
“Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes.” ~ Gloria Naylor