It’s hard to believe that today is the 18th Father’s Day that Deddy has been passed away. He was the best father that Travis or I could have ever asked for and I am grateful for everything he ever did in our lives. I loved him, but I also respected him. He was always there when I needed him, but he also demanded that I followed the rules of life and stayed out of trouble. I was staying with David O’Quinn one night many years ago and that usually meant police helicopters would be hovering above their house the whole time. His buddy Troy decided we should go sneak into the Lillington swimming pool. I told Troy there was no way in the world that I was going to do that. I explained to Troy that the idea of doing that didn’t bother me at all. However, the idea of getting caught and having to confront my father, DID bother me. He kind of chuckled and implied that dealing with my father would not be so difficult. That’s when David interjected….”Troy, do you know what Grizzly Adams looks like?” Troy indicated that he did. David responded by saying….. “Imagine him, on crack, and infuriated. That would be his Deddy if Robbie got caught. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to do it now either because I don’t want Bob mad at ME.”
That was my father. Although he was one of the nicest people that ever lived, he was respected by everyone that knew him. When he walked in a room, without even trying, his presence commanded respect. All my friends thought a lot of him. They enjoyed the funny things he said and his general interpretation of the world. He had the ability to insult you in some way, but before you could get mad, he would follow it up with a compliment. Heck, he did it to me a lot! The first time he ever met one of my best friends in college, Russell Moore, his introductory line was…. “Damn boy, your Mama don’t feed you much does she!” Russell laughed and loved Deddy from that moment on.
He did many things for others in life. A guy I know said Deddy loaned him the money to buy the land his home was on. He told Deddy about a piece of land that he had found but he could not afford the home and the land right away. Deddy told him to come back in a few days and he would see what he could do. When the gentleman returned, Deddy handed him a check and told him to pay him back as he could. No contract, no paperwork, just a handshake. Within a few years, he paid Deddy back, but he has appreciated it forever.
He was also one of the most forgiving people I have ever known. He just thought that everyone deserved a second chance and he often gave people many chances. Over the years, several guys that worked with him got into trouble in various ways and went to jail for a while. He would visit them, give them money, and take them things like cigarettes if it was allowed. I asked him one day why he did that, and he said too many people think that a similar situation could not happen to them. However, you just never know. He said that when someone is in such a difficult situation, the right thing to do is to extend them a hand of friendship and let them know that someone hopes the best for them. He would not justify any crime they committed, but he encourage them to learn from their mistakes. Forgiveness is a trait that I am still working on to be a better person.
I think for many of his family and friends, my father’s life was a collection of stories that became wonderful memories when he died. One of Gwen’s favorite stories is pulling through a drive thru window and Deddy ordering a “sack of cheeseburgers.” When the guy asked him how many cheeseburgers that would be, Deddy told him as many as he could fit in one bag! Uncle Boyd was with him one time and he was supposed to be on a diet. He got a cheeseburger on the way and he stopped and got another one coming home. Then he told Uncle Boyd that he better not say a word to Mama! Marshall had to get his truck painted one time after a wreck. Deddy told him where to take his truck to get it fixed. When Marshall went to pick up the truck, it had new rims on it. When Marshall told the owner that those were not his rims, the man replied; “Yes they are, that’s your graduation present from your Uncle Bob.” Giving gifts to the elderly at Christmas, going to races with his brothers and friends, some of the “pep talks” he gave us playing Little League, raising money for people in need, and just being there whenever anyone needed him are all terrific memories of Deddy that his family and friends will cherish forever.
As my life races by, I have come to appreciate even the smallest blessings. A few years ago, my Aunt Libby called me and asked me if I wanted the swing on her porch. She then explained to me something that I did not know, that Deddy had made the swing. There are many reasons that swing means so much to me now. He made it during one of the most difficult times in his life. It was the early 80’s and the economy was terrible. His truck had blown a motor, our house had burned down, and it was hard to find any work at all. We were living with my Great Grandparents in a 2 bedroom, one bath house. I slept on the big couch and Travis slept on the loveseat. To have something to do in the evenings, Deddy wired up one of my Great Papa Ferrell’s barns and started making all kinds of woodworks. That Christmas, he made a lot of presents that we gave to family and friends. There are stools, benches, lantern holders, and quilt trunks that my family still owns as a result of his handiwork, and now, I have the swing. I can see every cut he made and every nail he hammered. I worked on it for a while sanding it, making small repairs, and finally painting it. The swing now sits on my porch and looks great. Anyone can go somewhere tomorrow and buy a new swing. That swing can sit on your porch and look great. But you’ll never appreciate it as much as the one I have now. During one of the most difficult periods of his life, he chose to spend his spare time making things for other people.
I think we often get caught up in the hectic and frantic pace of life and we forget to appreciate what we already have. Deddy was not like that. I think he had enough challenges in life that when things started to improve, he appreciated everything that life had to offer. It is one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned from him and I really am a very grateful person.
I miss my father as much now as I did the week he died. I know nobody truly realizes just how much I still miss him. There have been so many times that I would have given anything to ask him for advice. I am told all the time that I look a lot like my father. I realize that much of the reason for that is that people will always remember Deddy being the age that I am now because he died so young. Although his time on Earth was short, the impact he made was truly a blessing for so many people. I can only hope that I can do enough good in the world that I’ll be remembered the same way.