June 17, 2009
~The following is a repost, which I first posted in August of 2007~
Maybe some of you, who read that last post, thought that I wrote it about me. It could have been written for a lot of people, I know, but I wrote it, thinking of Mama and Daddy.
You know, I told you about how she, and my real father, had been divorced when I was just a baby, and then when I was eight years old, she remarried.
From the very first time I saw him, I began calling him Daddy...and that's what he was to me, always, no matter what.
Daddy had been born and raised on Sand Mountain. Many of you could never imagine the kind of existence that entailed. Not only for himself, but for just about anyone in those days. It was pure, abject poverty, lived out by those uneducated, and certainly no resources which may be acquired nowadays.
Daddy was uneducated, his daddy was, and I'm sure it was that way back through all the generations of his family.
I knew my step-grandfather for only a short time. He died a few years after Mama and Daddy married. I'm not sure, exactly about his character, per se, as to the kind of worker he was, as far as trying to provide for his family.
He was a tall, handsome man, even in his later years. It seems that all of the men in that family were exceptionally handsome, especially when they were younger. I think he was well aware of that, too...being handsome, I mean.
Living out in the country, which is where everyone there lived, not many of them ever venturing into the small town, other than to pick up a few things that they might need, such as tobacco, or a few commodities. That's what I meant about not knowing his character. Most folks tried to farm, and grow most of the food they needed, or raised hogs, or cattle, if they could, but I don't think he did much of that.
I don't know about many of those details, but I know that it would have been during the depression, or there-abouts, that Daddy would have been growing up. Times would have been tough all over, and it would have been a struggle for survival for most folks.
That isn't all that made it hard on Daddy, though. He was horribly abused by his father. He had been a harsh, and cruel man, who was a bootlegger. So maybe, that is how he got by, but from what Daddy said, he drank as much of it as he sold. Not only that, but he gave it to Daddy to drink when he was only a child. Daddy said that he got drunk for the first time when he was three years old on "white lightening."
His father beat him, not always for any good reason. It was not in the way that one normally thinks of in the way of punishment for a child's innocent misbehavior. It was with fists, or a wooden chair, and once, he said that he woke up from unconciousness, with rain dripping onto his face from the roof. He had been knocked unconcious with a two-by-four-- trying to defend his mama from his daddy --and dragged over there by the side of the house. He finally left home, and married at fifteen years of age.
Maybe, that's why he always drank, and no matter how hard he tried, he never got to the place where he could stop. Oh, it wasn't a matter of drinking every single day, but when he did drink, it would be for four or five days straight. I think he just had too many demons, too much torment, from memories that never left him.
I told you all this because, even as bad as that was, Daddy still had a big heart. He would give you the shirt off his back, and as I have said before, he was a very proud man. He wouldn't accept anything that he couldn't repay, and he was a hard worker. Right after he married Mama, about a year later, we moved to another town, and he was hired at the local Army facility in that town. He didn't make a lot of money as a laborer, but it kept a roof over our heads, and food on the table. We moved around a lot, around town, but it was never into anything better than what we were moving out of, but he always thought so, and took pride in that.
The only thing was, that Daddy still had that same mentality, prevalent in his own dad. He was handsome, and he knew it, and even though he loved Mama--in his own way, and as much as he was capable of loving anyone-- he went out with other women. Not only that, but he thought that it was his right to do so. And he did it often, sometimes leaving Mama, and staying with the other woman for days, and at one time, months at a time.
Once, he told Mama this story about going deep-sea fishing in Florida, and was supposed to meet the guy he was going with over at his house. He never asked her to go along on these jaunts, and never even asked if it was alright with her if he was going to be gone for a week. She was a woman, and he was a man --that's just the way it was.
What he didn't know, is that she was suspicious, and had a pretty good idea where he was headed, which was a few blocks from their house. As soon as he left in his car, she left on foot, and sure enough, when she got there, there he stood out in the yard, practicing his casting with his rod and reel.
Just about the same time that he spotted her, the other woman stepped outside, and Mama tackled her like a linebacker! They rolled all over the yard, across the sidewalk, and right out into the street. A city bus had pulled up and stopped, and the passengers were cheering her on, like crazy!
Finally, Daddy got Mama off of her, and told her to get home, and he would be right behind her. She left, but he didn't go right behind her. He and the other woman went on their fishing trip to Florida. Daddy brought back pictures, showing all the big fish he caught, but many of them, which were taken of the two of them, had one side torn away, and had only Daddy standing there with his big grin and his prize catch.
I'm sure that some of you may be wondering how I could still feel so much affection for him, seeing as how he had treated my mother like that. All I can say is that he loved me from the start, he was always good to me, and treated me with respect, and I loved him...he was my Daddy.
I asked Mama once, after I was grown, why she had married him, and why did she stay with him. Her answer was simple, and from the heart. "Because I love him, Janice...I always did, and I always will."
Love covers a multitude of sins.
*While reading this again, I was reminded of something which I think is very important, and says a lot about the character of my sweet little Mama.
Several years after this event took place, the "other woman" came to Mama and asked her forgiveness. She had become a Christian, and wanted to make things right. When Mama told me about it, I asked her if she had forgiven her. She replied, "Well, sure I did, Janice. If she asked God for forgiveness, and He forgave her, who was I, not to?"
Oh, Mama, what a precious treasure you were!
It is interesting to note, that the three of them, eventually, belonged to the same church, and the woman and my mother became good friends. One day, while going through her pictures, after her death, I came across several pictures of them together, looking so happy, and having a great time at one of the church's "dinner on the ground."
For those of you not familiar with that pharase, it is simply a potluck meal eaten outside, usually after the church service, and sometimes, between church services.
It's always a great time of fellowship, and sometimes, it is "Singing, with dinner on the ground."
Posted by Jan at 1:25 AM