Sunday, June 16, 2013

Johnny Jasper Jones, Jr.

Today is Father's Day.  As a female, I'll only celebrate it as a daughter and a wife.  And that's okay with me. But let me share with you about my own daddy.

I think every little girl starts out believing that her daddy is the coolest, strongest, most handsome man who has ever walked the face of the earth.  He is placed on a pedestal.  Any other man in a girl's life has to measure up to her daddy.  He sets the stage for relationships throughout his daughter's life.

My daddy has been a good daddy.  I've always loved him, but since I've been an adult I've come to appreciate him more.

We joke that Daddy's and my relationship had a rocky start--I was born on the opening day of deer season.  Any decent Southerner knows that opening day doubles as a religious holiday.  You simply don't make plans for the early morning of the third Saturday in October.  It just isn't done.  Twenty-eight years ago, however, I had a different idea.  (Let's blame it on ignorance.  I didn't know any better.)  Somehow, though, Daddy managed to overlook my oversight, and loves me in spite of my poor timing.

I have so many good memories of my daddy.  There's not space to share them all here, but I'll hit the highlights:

I was an only child for five years.  I'm pretty sure I was the month six month old with a go-kart.  We have pictures of Daddy and me riding it before I could walk.  When I was a little girl we had hogs.  I remember Daddy taking me to the farrowing house to see a brand new litter.  He shared with me how special life is.

Before my sister was born I wouldn't sleep my bed.  I slept with Mama and Daddy.  Daddy used to tell me about Bo Cephus, who lived in a cabin in the woods.  I always enjoyed those stories, and I wish I could remember more about them.

Daddy used to take me to the pond after work.  He'd back the pick-up up to the water and we'd fish from the tailgate.  For years and years I thought you had to be quiet while fishing, or you'd scare the fish away.  Come to find out, Daddy just needed his uber-chatty daughter to be quiet.

For a long time, probably until I was six or seven, I thought Daddy's name was Johnny Jasper Jones, Jr.  I later learned that that is NOT his name, that it's the name of one of my mother's college classmates.  But when I would ask Daddy his middle name that's what he'd tell me.  For those of you who don't know my daddy, his name IS Johnny Jones.  That's what makes it believable to a small child.

My daddy has curly hair.  I do, too.  When I was a little girl Daddy would let me use him to play beauty parlor.  Every daddy ought to let his daughter put barrettes in his hair.  Those are memories that are priceless to me.

Not all of my good memories are pre-Jessica and John, though.

For my tenth birthday Daddy took me to town and bought me a pink Swiss Army knife.  For Christmas that year he gave me a BB gun.  Yep, Daddy taught me how to shoot a gun.  I'm the proud owner of riflery trophies.  Daddy took me to the public library on a Sunday afternoon to take the hunter safety course when I was in sixth grade.  He took me into the woods with him and sat me on a bucket.  I have never shot a deer, but you know what?  My daddy did take the time to teach me how to.  He took up time with me, even after Jessica and John were born.

Daddy helped teach me to drive.  He'd quiz me about things that drivers don't generally think about--things like, "Can you be pulled over for speeding, even if you're going the speed limit?"  Yes--you can be driving too fast for conditions.

Daddy provided me with my first job.  I started off sweeping and worked my way up to working the parts counter and doing book work.  I worked with my parents until I moved away to college.  Since I've been grown and married I've worked with Daddy a few times.  It's hard work, but at my core, I know there's just something exciting about being a part of a family business.

When I was 17 I had a date with the boy I would date my junior and senior years of high school.  Daddy looked over the bar at him, shook his finger, and said, "You take care of my daughter."  Apparently I am a prized possession.

When I was a freshman in college I was a basketball cheerleader at Brewton-Parker College.  My family came to see me cheer.  That's when I learned Daddy was a quasi-basketball fan.  Not everybody's daddy hollers, "You dummy!" at the referee!!

The only person I've ever heard my daddy threaten is my husband.  He wasn't my husband at the time--he was asking Daddy for permission to ask me to marry him.  Daddy essentially told Jon that he could run, but he couldn't hide if ever he hurt me.  To top it off, Daddy took Jon target shooting the day before our wedding.  I think the point was proved.  Daddy is a good shot.

The day Jon and I got married, just before the wedding started, before he gave his firstborn away, Daddy came in the room where I was.  He asked me if I needed anything, if I was okay.  Even though I was 24 years old, a bride-to-be, and fairly independent, I was still my daddy's little girl.

And since I've been married, Daddy has still been there for me.  He and my mother have traveled to be with Jon and me at the hospital twice.  Sadly, it was not because he was becoming a grandaddy, but because he wasn't.  I'm sure it's difficult to see your child in the physical and emotional pain I was in.  While Daddy and I have never talked about it, I appreciate him being there.  We were able to talk about lawn mowers and local news, anything to get my mind off what we were going through.

To top off all the cool stuff Daddy has done with and for me, I have to say it really means a lot to me that he has embraced my husband.  Not all fathers-in-law do that to the gorillas who drag their daughters away.  I'm pretty proud of the relationship Daddy and Jon have.

Despite our differences, and in some cases similarities, I must say that after everything we've been through, Daddy is still one of the coolest, strongest, most handsome men to have ever walked the face of the earth.  Mama says still waters run deep.  She hit the nail on the head with that about Daddy.

Yes, Jessica, John, and I are very fortunate.  We have an awesome daddy.  We've never been hungry, and have always had a place to live.  We have always had what we needed, and a lot of what we wanted.  We know that our daddy loves our mama, and that he loves us.  I am so thankful for the hero of a daddy my daddy has been.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


With Memorial Day on the horizon we should each be pondering the question, "What is a hero?"  A serviceman or woman?  Most definitely!  Policemen, firemen, paramedics, and EMTs?  Absolutely!  Doctors and nurses?  Sure.  But then there's the unsung heroes.  I call mine "Mama."

Don't get me wrong--I am so proud to be an American.  I am eternally indebted to the men and women who sacrificed their lives so that I can be here now writing to you.  I hold my head high:  I am the daughter and granddaughter of veterans.  Daddy and Doodle (my maternal grandfather) were in the Navy; my Grandaddy Jones served during WWII in the Army.  I have several uncles and even more cousins who have written a check to the United States of American in the amount up to their lives.  Saying my family is patriotic is kind of an understatement.

But unsung heroes...  

I've been a wife four years.  I think it's probably the most gratifying yet least appreciated job I've ever had.  And I love it!  I think being a mom is probably similarly underappreciated.

My mother is nothing short, no pun intended (she just is 5'), of my hero.  She and Daddy have been married almost 30 years.  She has raised 3 awesome children.  (No conceit in my family--I have it all!)  She has said goodbye to one child and four grandchildren she never knew.  She welcomed Jon into her home and treats him just like she does Jessica, John, and me.  She has buried a parent.  She earned her BBA at the age of 45.  She has struggled in life, just like everybody else.  She's just plain wonderful!

Last night my mother and sister happened on a less than ideal circumstance.  Somehow, like she usually does, Mama she managed to stay calm and do what she could to help the situation.  This morning as she was recounting the details to me my heart broke for her, yet I couldn't help but feel proud.  MY mama helped somebody she didn't know.  Somebody else's child.  Was she thinking, "I'm doing this so when karma comes around somebody will be with my children?"  I doubt it.  I feel like it was more about trying to keep the situation as calm as possible.  Kinda reminds me of the Good Samaritan.  She did what she could to bring peace to an unspeakable scene.  The last thing on her mind, I feel, was "this will be a learning experience for my children."  

But this morning as Mama was telling me about the happenings, I couldn't help but think, "Even though I'm mostly-grown, pushing thirty, married, and the mother of four, I'm still learning from my mama."  I expect to learn from her the rest of her life.  Somehow, though, today I'm just a little more in awe of her.

Mama has taught me a lot of things.  She taught me to walk, she taught me the alphabet, she taught me to draw hearts, and she taught me to be responsible.  Mama has been my port in the storm on more than one occasion.  She has been tender and shown tough love.  She has disciplined me (in most creative ways) and has laughed with me.  She taught me to be compassionate and to value life.  But the most beneficial thing she taught me was to love Jesus.  My mother led me to the Lord 22 years ago.  

If she never does another thing, and I doubt she'll stop doing until Gabriel blows his trumpet, my mama will still be my hero.  Mama doesn't need a lot of recognition.  She isn't fond of pomp and attention being drawn to her. (Not sure where the three of us get that.  Daddy maybe?)   She's a great cook and a ton of fun.  I'm so glad to know my hero personally.

Who is your unsung hero?  Take a minute to thank God for him or her.  Then pick up the phone and give him or her a call.  It'll do you good, and help you, too.