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Sunday, June 19, 2011

My dad: " Butler to Tha Man"

Today is Father's Day.  So I did what probably most loving daughter's do.. remininence about my Dear Old Pops.  I am so incredibly blessed in that I was given one of the Best that ever walked the face of this old earth.  No kidding!!  And Praise God, he's still here and walking here today.  I was telling an old friend that I consider my dad one of my best friends.  (Mom and I are close, but Daddy and I are kindred spirits..we think,view and react to our world in many of the same ways).  

So as I was thinking, I suddenly remembered one of the funniest instances in which my Mother was able to cook my Dad's goose really well.  Our family tree has some very interesting  twigs, branches and apples that fell off way too soon.  And I have learned that survival these days requires a good dose of humor and laughter.  And the ability to laugh at oneself is right  up there with waking up on the right side of the bed.  My dad's main role in our family to that which I considered most was not breadwinner, leader, provider or main food hunter.  My reflection is that of home entertainer and humorous harrasser.  Not one member of our family was off limits.  His work kept him away from us many hours of most days.  But when he was home.. He was home.. And he was always making us laugh and tormenting us in a playful way.

We three kids were structurally planned for college educations that spread us out so my educator parents could afford to send us to those colleges.  That meant that there are 12 yrs. between my first and last sibling.  We have always been a very tight knit group.  And laughter is a pre requisite for any and every occasion.  Oh yea.. and nothing is off limits.  My father was born and raised in Virginia which meant travel to visit his folks was very sparse given the high cost to get us all out there and scheduled time off.  I always cherished the trips and time spent together as a family.  But truth be said.. those road trips were a butt numbing experience also.  It would take us 3 days to get there and then 3 days to get home in the family car. 

 I am thankful now for the long time we spent riding, because the trips taught me to appreciate the flavor and history of our great country.  All of us were history buffs.  And I wonder what would have happened if one of us didn't follow that way of thinking.  Would we have been dropped off on the side of the road for complaining, crying and pitching a hissy fit?
I'm not certain but we may be a candidate for the most historical  roadside marker stops in one childhood.  While some kids learn multiplication facts or other mundane facts.. we stopped at just about every presidential birthplace, home, museum, Civil War Battlefield, marker spot on the roadmap.  And we were all sponges to all of that history.  My brother became an expert before he hit the 2nd grade in the Civil War knowledge.  And these stops did me very well in my history classes too.  So we were very blessed to have a flavorful and very real sense of our history and belonging.

My poor mom had never had any desire to leave the state of Texas.. EVER.  She was happy exactly where she was and didn't thrive or enjoy the long rides of these trips.  And now being a mom to 2 very mischievious rug rats myself.. I am completely overwhelmed w/a sense of LOVE and Gratitude  they both possessed in not leaving our fighting, jealous. petty arguing butts somewhere on a desolated and God foresaken road in a backwoods state just to get some peace and quiet.  By day three, it seemed like we were all hanging on by a short single thread just praying that we would GET THERE ALREADY so we could see my grandparents.  That was one very long trip.  And nerves were getting raw. 
So to help the time pass faster, Daddy would inevitably start cranking up his jokes and harrassment.  He would pick at us and pick at us.  Fortunately for us, (but not to my MOM), he would really lay it hard on teasing my mom.  She took it in good stride as best she could. 

But the worse of the trip was always last.  In order to get to my grandparents retirement home meant going up and up up a narrow and rural mountain road.  They owned almost 30 of the most beautiful acres in the Blue Ridge Mtn. range.  Their land stopped at the very top.   Unfortunately, to get to it, you had to practically crawl on a switchback pattern to make your way safely up.  That road always made her nervous and sick.  And Daddy never helped when he would start teasing her about it at the beginning of the 3rd day of travel so she could get really worked up just thinking about it.  Daddy was pretty much in control of these trips.

Except for once.  I believe that Mama had decided she was sick and tired of taking the brunt of my Dad's jokes and teasing.  So she did what any great comic might do.  Instead of her usual self depreciating jokes--she seeked a hilarious alternative.  My brother who had just finished K was eating up all the history and facts he was exposed to while on this tripand his first class of schooling.  So Mama started feeding him the best line she ever gave him.  She started telling him the story about how Daddy had withheld the fact that he had been George Washingon's butler when he had lived in Va. before he moved to Texas.  She had such a straight face and couldn't have laid that out any better.  The look on my Dad's face was priceless.  She had laid the shock and awe on him and he didn't even know where or how to respond.  I remember trying so hard not to laugh, cause I realized she had just sucker- punched him good.  And it was priceless to witness.  My mind told me that if I laughed, then my brother would figure out it was all a joke.  And I was dying to see how this one would play out.  Almost like one for the team.

Boy did my little brother jump on this one.  He was incredulous and so incredibly happy, curious and amazed that his daddy had been involved in such great history with no less than the Father of our Country!..He started rambling off questions 90 miles and minute.  And my dad still didn't know how to respond.  He started laughing and gave my mom the best "Truce, You got me look".  This went on for several miles.  And if I remember correctly, that scary stretch of roadway up the Taylor Mtn. was pretty peaceful and quiet that day.  Oh yea.. and it took a long time for my brother to get the entire gist that it was all a joke.  He so wanted to tell his friends about George.. The George..

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