Gratitude 3—Jerry Kelley, My Dad
My dad did a lot of things right.
If you hear me talk about my dad, you might hear more of what he did wrong or ways I felt he could have or should have done better, but if that is all you know, then it is an injustice to him and you.
There are many reasons I am thankful for my dad. These are just a few.
1. He took me to church.
2. He prayed for me.
3. He prayed with me.
4. He taught me to pray at meals.
5. He put up a basketball goal where he would have rather parked his car.
6. He took me coon hunting.
7. When we talked about wildcats “screaming” at night, his hair on his arms stood up…just like mine.
8. He took me to dog shows.
9. In the early ‘70s he refused to sell a 6-month old pup for $3,000 cash because the man who wanted to buy the dog had children who wore torn clothes that were either way too big or way too small, and when they asked for something to eat, he said he didn’t have money to feed them. My dad bought the children sandwiches.
10. My dad was a blue-collar worker that barely made ends meet. He rarely had new shoes but had his old ones resoled. One year my dad saved all year for a new pair of boots for Christmas. They were the family’s gift to him.
That year a family came to our church. They were from the East in Mill Country. The dad had lost his job due to layoffs. He moved to Texas hoping for a job that never materialized. Without money to buy gas, he walked the 5-15 miles between towns to find a job. The soles of his boots were gone. He was walking on duct tape. His feet were the same size as my dad’s.
My dad never wore his new boots. And he never mentioned it.
11. My dad has the opinion coffee should be strong enough to have the option of crawling out of the cup and walking away if it so desired. Not many folks could handle more than one cup of his coffee. I liked it.
12. My dad liked sugar with his coffee—actually, he liked coffee with his sugar. I think the reason it didn’t crawl away is because of the diabetic coma caused from the level of sugar in it.
13. My dad sat with me on the front steps of their home on fall and spring morning before I had to leave for the day, and we would talk. I don’t know how many times I’ve wished for one more morning or for another cup of his coffee.
14. Hauling hay. When I was little, they still had small square bails, and I would make sure they were lined up with the hay loader so they could go up to my dad and Daddy Norman. My mom usually drove. I still love the smell of fresh cut hay.
15. December 13. My dad’s birthday when I renew my commitment to fulfill my dad’s greatest prayer for my brother and me—that we would be better than him.
And that isn’t easy because in so many ways, they just don’t come any better than my dad.