the illustration friday word on 9/29 was "quiet" and the first thought that came to mind was a sleeping baby, but then i realized that they were only quiet and angelic for a certain length of time. the next thought that came to mind was my father's grave -- as it (and he) are now quiet forever.
i don't go out there often, and i think i've only been there 5 times since his death. of course i was there for the funeral and graveside services, but i mean after that point. i went out there w/ mom after the headstone was set, as she wanted me to see how nice it looked. after that time, i've only been out there when things were dreadfully wrong in my life and i felt totally miserable and alone.
some people may find it disrespectful that i don't visit the graves of my ancestors on a regular basis, but i mean no disrespect in my actions. in my heart, they do not reside where their headstone is but in my heart, in my memories, and in my photos. visiting their headstone only shows other people that i am there and makes no statement to the people who are now gone.
i feel that i show respect to those i loved and who are now gone by the life i live and the choices i make in my life -- and not the number of times i have visited their graves.
my father was the most awesome man i have ever met and probably no one will ever surpass his stature in my eyes. he was always loving, always kind, always patient, and always there. i know he was very popular all of his life and other people may have a different view of him than i do -- but this view is coming from a child-now-adult who could test the patience of a saint. i never saw him drink, never heard him lie, never heard him badmouth other people, never heard him cuss, never heard or saw him treat my mother, or anyone, w/ disrespect (and God help the person who did!), never saw him give in when he felt he was right, and i never saw him do something that he knew was wrong.
now, don't get me wrong -- i didn't always agree w/ him, but i DID always respect and love him. when we did disagree, it was usually a very strong battle of the wills. sometimes there was never a "winner", but instead we "agreed to disagree" and other times we kept at it until the disadvantaged one gave in (that would be me as the disadvantaged one b/c i was still a kid who knew which side my bread was buttered on!).
i miss him more than words can say and i wish he were here still to be a part of my life. his body is not, but his love and memory will always be in my life as i truly feel that his love and support is what allowed me to be the person who i have become. some people would have tried to crush my personality, my spirit, and my will -- but he never tried that. he only tried to point me in the right direction, was there to pick me up when i was down, to dust me off and point me back in the right direction, and kick me in the patootie when i needed it.
amazing how he softened when he had grandchildren. suddenly the man who was so strict at times was suddenly out on the lawnmower tractor at 6:30 in the morning driving the kids around in the yard b/c they wanted to ride. he waited up until wee hours of the morning for us to arrive home from arkansas to help carry them in. he always carried lifesavers wintergreen mints in "papa's cannie pocket" and always had time to stop what he was doing and play. every time he went to the grocery store, he stocked up on candy "for the grandkids", although he sure helped them out on eating that bulk brock's candy mix.
here is a picture of 4 of the 5 grandchildren (stormy wasn't born yet) taken in the spring of 1990 (with kyle at 3, summer at 6, cody at almost 2, and scott at 4) in danor and mickie's front room watching television together
this man made a lasting impression on many people, but the impact on my life and of my children is gigantic. too bad he's not here to see his great-grandchildren, as i know he would certainly get a kick out of their antics. now that i'm a grandparent, i can certainly understand how suddenly what the children want to do is the most important thing in life. those little ones keep life in perspective.
here's a picture of my dad and "my sweet dolly" (his pet name for summer), probably taken in about 1993-4 b/c i figure summer is about 9-10 in this picture.