By NEMS Daily Journal
‘Thanks for your example’
By Greg Roy/Special to the Daily Journal
Maurice Roy was born March 18, 1943, in Barre, Vermont, one of nine children who lived in a single-mom household.
The Roys were poor but also a happy crew. My dad’s parents were French Canadian and spoke broken English. He still doesn’t share too much about the early days, but I know the hand-me-down clothes left a lasting mark on his personal desire to provide for his own children someday.
After joining the Air Force he was assigned as a guard on a U.S. base in Tripoli, Libya, where Maurice met Barbara Davis, daughter of an Army colonel, and the two were soon married and transferred to Little Rock Air Force base where I was born.
My father joined Sears Roebuck after completing his military tenure and quickly advanced through the management ranks, traveling 3 to 4 days a week and doing his very best to provide for Mom, me and my younger sister, Laura. I still remember seeing his company car turn onto our street after a long business trip and running to grab my glove. He taught me to play baseball and how to maintain a yard better than anyone else in the neighborhood.
My childhood experience was terrific and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I grew up in a home where I was constantly loved and encouraged. We moved eight times before I landed in high school, but with the Sears Company if you didn’t accept the promotion and relocation you were stuck without opportunity for advancement. Maybe that’s why I have worked only at Lane Furniture for 23 years – just tired of moving so much as a kid.
Dad enjoyed knowing that my mother could stay at home with us and pour herself into our lives. He was the provider and she was the laughter. I have often wondered how this man could possibly know the right things to say and how to motivate and encourage me when he never saw a father figure around his own house growing up.
I rarely remember an argument that we’ve had. When I was disrespectful to him or my mother I could expect a whipping with the belt – no questions asked, and I learned at a very young age that “quit” is not part of our vocabulary.
My father has taught me so many things – and he is still teaching me and my three sons how to be better men today. But these three core things have impacted me the most: 1) love God and your family with all your heart 2) work hard and get the job done right and 3) always be honest and treat other people with respect.
Many fathers can play the honorable role when everyone is looking but it’s during the quiet times at home or in the middle of stressful family issues that you see the real soul of a dad and a spiritual leader.
You have been a constant source of love, motivation and encouragement in my life for 46 years and any success or happiness that I have enjoyed in marriage, fatherhood or business is simply a direct reflection of watching a Godly man pave the way for me. Thank you for setting the example of what it means to be a servant leader.
I love you Dad. Happy Father’s Day.
Now that I’m a dad
By Nathan Chapman/Special to the Daily Journal
Becoming a parent changes almost everything about your life. I became a dad in 2007; and one of the most noticeable changes in myself was the exponential growth of respect and admiration for my own dad.
When I think of how I want to be a father to my kids, he’s the first example that comes to mind. It’s remarkable to me how much your perspective on being a father can change throughout different seasons of life. You start out thinking your dad is the best man alive. Before long you start thinking of all the ways you would be different and dare I say “better” as a dad.
Before becoming a dad, I could have given you a list of things I would do differently from my own dad. But things seem to come full circle. Something changes when you have a child of your own.
I have a fantastic father. He is someone whom I respect, admire and hope to be like. My dad has feet of clay, but I am now into my 30s and I still want to grow up to be my dad. I am like the child who believes my dad hung the moon, can do no wrong, can beat up your dad any day.
Like most other young kids, my understanding of “dad” was the guy who knew everything. He taught me to tie my shoes, to shoot a gun, cast a lure, drive a stick shift, step into my swing, shine my shoes and speak to a lady, among countless other things.
Learning all these things does not make a great dad, but through all of it, I was catching his character, his patience to impart lessons and life, and most importantly, what it means to be a man who honors God.
My dad taught me to laugh, be honest, take responsibility, to quit “piddling” and to get to work.
When you are learning these lessons, sometimes you feel like the karate kid learning to “wax on, wax off.” So much seems pointless to a teenager. Hindsight has a curious way of showing you what things mean after the fact.
Still, things can be so hard to see clearly as a son or daughter. When things don’t come out as you had hoped or planned it’s much easier to look around for someone to blame. Usually the first write-in candidate happens to be a father.
The propensity towards blaming dads for every weakness is exceedingly popular these days. Some dads are responsible for ruining their kids, through selfishness, hobbies and leaving the parenting to Mom. But no matter who your dad is or was or what he has done to you, when you become a dad you share a humble weight and connection that could not be shared before.
There is part of your heart that can’t be opened until you have a child. And there is also some part of your heart that can’t be opened to love your dad completely until you have a child and you feel the fearful power and responsibility your parents felt. Until you look at a baby, full of potential, vulnerability and hope, and realize the burden of being a dad, you cannot be a sympathetic and compassionate evaluator of your own father.
That moment when your child is born and you become a dad. It is almost an immediate transition. You love this new human in a way that is naïve, full of fear, excitement and joy. It changes everything, chiefly the compassion, and respect you have for your own dad.
Before becoming a dad, I could only speculate on what a good dad was. Now that I am a dad, I am positive, that my father defines the best meaning of that word.
‘He wanted to wear his teeth at my wedding’
By Anita Thornton Akers/Special to the Daily Journal
To the community he was “Mr. Cecil;” to the grandkids, “Papaw” and “Granddaddy Thornton;” to me he was – a daddy who loved me and sacrificed much for me.
I always considered myself to be a “mama’s girl;” after all, I was the surprise child, the change-of-life baby and the one who had a lot in common with her. We shared a love for music, reading and traveling – things that didn’t always ring Daddy’s bell. He loved farming, horses, and tractors – things I only tolerated.
Dad was never in good health as far back as I can remember. He had such horrific ulcers that he actually went to Jackson at one point and had his stomach “frozen” just to get a little relief. Years later, after much suffering, he finally had most of his stomach removed and found healing, although he “died” for a few minutes on the operating table.
Many things stand out in my mind about Daddy, but two in particular are branded there.
Up until he had stomach surgery, I never saw Daddy in anything but striped Liberty overalls, and even then, some of the side buttons were not fastened – he just couldn’t stand the pressure across his belly.
But, uppermost in my mind, is the high cost Daddy was willing to pay for my wedding, and I don’t mean in money.
Years ago, he had all of his teeth removed and his dentures never really fit to his satisfaction. Actually, he was usually in agony with them in. And, I think the fact that he consistently performed regular “surgery” on his dentures didn’t help matters any.
Because of his love for peanuts and other hard foods, and knowing he would be forced to use the despised dentures, he would whip out his pocket knife, clean it well, and begin to whittle on the fake gum – always hoping the next time he put them in he would find them a bit more comfortable.
Now, whether it was his idea or someone else’s well-meaning suggestion, my sweet Dad arrived at our wedding rehearsal, ready to walk me down the aisle – DENTURES AND ALL. He wore this huge, pleased smile on his face, one I recognized as that of great love.
But my fiance and future in-laws, who had just arrived from Alabama, didn’t even recognize him. So, later on at home, knowing what a sacrifice this had been for him, I hugged him up and quietly asked him to please not wear his teeth the next day. I told him that I wanted “my daddy,” the one I knew best, to be at my side.
The sweet smile of relief was evident on his face – a very toothless one, but familiar. He gratefully respected my wishes.
Daddy died back in 1987 and I would love to see that smile today. But, all I have to do is go to the wedding photo of the two of us coming down that aisle together, and I remember what he was willing to do for me – that selfless act of love for his baby girl.
Reminds me of another father – a heavenly one – who gave his very best for me.
By Amy McDowell/Special to the Daily Journal
He’s my “didi,” not my dad. As a kid I decided that Didi was too unique to be called Dad – that’s what other fathers are called.
My didi is that guy with the ponytail that you may have seen at the Pontotoc Piggly Wiggly or the New Albany Arts Festival. He is the one who makes the totem poles. The sculptures that combine tree branches and raccoon teeth with car blinkers and iron rods.
Didi makes art with what he has or what he finds. He thinks that buying supplies takes all the fun out of it. One of Didi’s totem poles stands right between the boundary of my parents’ land and the Toyota domain.
Industrial development removed many of the area’s inhabitants; hillsides, birds, snakes, forests and homes have disappeared. Didi’s totem pole, made of wood, turtle shells and deer antlers, memorializes their absence and esteems their presence.
When I heard about this essay contest, I wondered how I could narrow down what I want to share about Didi. In the end, I kept going back to art because Didi’s artistic worldview defines him, and in effect, our relationship.
I see the totem pole and ask myself, “What is that?” and then go about looking for an answer.
From him I learned that innovation is a key feature of independent thought. The time we spent together scuba diving, star gazing, talking, laughing and traveling to record conventions trained me to explore the world and make discoveries.
Girls are often instructed to defer to others and to always put others’ goals before their own. I did not have this lesson. Didi inspired me to be inventive and independent. He encouraged me to think outside the box. Thank you, Didi.
A father with a heart of gold
By Gail Hill/Special to the Daily Journal
My daddy, Ancel Henry, is one of the most humble Christian men you will ever meet. Daddy was born July 14, 1919, the youngest of five children.
In the eyes of the world, my daddy doesn’t look like anyone special. His once-bright eyes seem a little dimmer, but he has seen so much of the world.
In 1942, at age 23 he entered the Army. Daddy fought in five major campaigns during his 32 months overseas: Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arne, Southern France, Rhineland and Central Europe. He was a tank commander and received an honorable discharge as a sergeant. He received the Bronze Star, the Good Conduct Medal, European African Middle East Theater Medal with Bronze Arrowhead, the American Defense Medal, the WWII Victory Medal and the Purple Heart for wounds received. Daddy said he didn’t deserve a medal.
To look at his rough gnarled hands, it’s hard to imagine that he shook President Roosevelt’s hand during the war. When he was receiving his medical release to come home, he met a German man in the hospital and gave him his Bible that his mother had sent. After spending 50 years in Germany, the Bible found its way home again. This is one example of the kindness he has shown throughout his life.
After the war, he started farming and married Dorothy Essary. They had a long happy life together for 63 years. They had two daughters and four sons on the Henry home place. He raised what the family would eat and sold the rest. Daddy taught us how important hard work is.
There are so many fond memories of our family outings, such as picnics in the woods, or searching for the perfect Christmas tree.
My favorite memory of my daddy was one winter night we were coming home from Corinth, and it started snowing. It was nearly Christmas, and Daddy started singing “Silent Night.” We sang Christmas carols all the way home. I had such a special peace in my safe world as I sat between Mama and Daddy.
After all his “cotton pickers” grew up, he raised fruits and vegetables to sell at the farmers market. People from all over would come and buy his produce because he had such a green thumb and was generous with his bounty.
Daddy played in a band when he was young, but raising and feeding a family of eight kept him too busy until later in life. Once again, he picked up his guitar and started playing. Well into his 80s, Daddy would go to the nursing homes and play and sing. They would thank him for coming, and he would laugh and tell them he was older than they were.
He now resides in a nursing home, wearing his overalls as he sits in his wheelchair. Daddy still smiles and says he doesn’t have a pain one. He still sings with a friend who comes to see him. He never complains and always has a joke or song for anyone willing to listen.
My daddy may have received a purple heart, but in my eyes, he has a heart of gold. Happy Father’s Day Daddy, I love and respect you more than you will ever know.