When hearts stop…

Published 7:58 pm Friday, June 16, 2023

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My daddy was no different from most other daddies of his time.

He got up early, went to work, came home, ate lunch, took a short nap and then went back to work.

When Daddy came home after work, he was king of his four-room castle. He called for his pipe and a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

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Had it not been for the King of our Castle, Mama would have kept me tied to her apron strings until I was an old maid. Mama did her best to keep me grounded. But, Daddy gave me wings.

He gave me the go-ahead to jump off the high dive at the Brundidge city pool, to go to camp way off at Camp Grandview in Montgomery and, at age 17, to board the train and go 3,000 miles away from home to work at Yellowstone National Park.

I had to earn the money for the train ticket to Montana; he would bring me home. And, Daddy did. I had decided to stay and work. He said, “come home.”

Daddy didn’t talk a lot but his love and caring came through in many ways – a funny book when I was sick or a “yes you can” or “no you cannot” when I was older.

In time, a small brown paper sack of candy for the grandchildren or a cold, watermelon in the summertime was Daddy’s way of saying, “I love you.” And, In a hundred other small ways – a funny story, ruffled hair, a ride on the pickup truck, a paper airplane, a kite or a golf club in just their size.

In time, we moved away and lived in Ohio for several years. We moved back home in the late spring of 1983.

One night, Daddy became suddenly sick. The grandchildren stood under the magnolia tree and watched when the rescue squad came to take him to the hospital. He gave them a weak thumbs-up.

Two days later, on Father’s Day 1983, Dr. John Crosby, came and knelt by Mama’s side.  He said that Daddy’s heart had stopped.

He didn’t say, Daddy had died. Only that his heart had stopped.

When we lose those we love, if we keep their memories alive by telling their stories, by sharing their memory, then, their hearts may stop but they will never, ever die.