I spent a week in Florida visiting my daddy recently. I was born and spent the first 18 years of my life in ElDorado, Arkansas but Daddy has lived in Florida for 30 years.
This is my daddy. Isn't he handsome?
He is 82...born during the depression, was in WWII and is the greatest story-teller I know. I could just sit and listen to him for hours (and actually, I do!) talking about his childhood, his father dying when he was 15, working in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and his year in Burma and China during WWII.
He was 18 years old in this photo which was taken when he first joined the U.S. Army. He asked my mother to wait for him before "going off to war" and when he returned home in 1945, they were married.
I love hearing Daddy talk about "the war", his life with my mama, Jean,
raising 3 children during the 50's and 60's, working at Woody's Grill in El Dorado, Arkansas and later owning The Coffee Cup, losing my mother to cancer when she was only 52,
marrying Betty in 1978 and moving to Florida, losing his Betty in 1999 and continuing with his life in the little town in Florida.
Daddy sometimes talks of going back to his old stompin' grounds of Walnut Ridge and Lynn, Arkansas. Everyone needs to dream and he dreams of having a house in the country, going to town every couple of weeks or so but otherwise, pretty much being a hermit. His home would include a little piece of land, a plow, a dog and a mule. (I wanted to include a photo here of the house he was born in, but my scanner isn't working at the moment.)
Daddy loves living in Florida...he loves warm weather and doesn't miss the cold at all. Both my brothers live in the same town as Daddy and he really loves that! But he still considers himself an Arkansan and always will. He loves the people, the way of life there, his family ties and roots and even the dirt. Things just grow better in Arkansas dirt, you know...
After my week in Florida, Daddy spent a week at our house in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We took a little road trip together and visited his oldest sister, Lucille, who is in a nursing home in Sedalia, Missouri. We also had lunch with Daddy's childhood sweetheart, Wanda, who lives in St. Louis.
My times with my daddy grow more special with each year, each visit.
...I treasure you, Daddy...