I've got this picture of my Daddy before I was ever delivered from heaven to south of the Mason Dixon into his unsuspecting life. He's sitting on a fencepost as a teenager actin' the fool. He and his sharecropper family had survived the Great Depression and he was probably a freshman in high school, give or take a couple of years. He looks happy and full of hope and faith. Billy went to the ag college up in Martin Tennessee and got a degree in farming and wildlife and such. As fate would have it, this farm became his to oversee shortly after his Air Force duty and graduation. His day job was with the US Department of Agriculture tracking bugs with colored pins on a giant United States map. He would scour the surrounding West Tennessee counties and come home for a good hot red-faced supper of vegetables that he had grown himself, fried just so by Mama and accompanied by homemade biscuits. Dang, that woman can cook like a wizard! Purple hull peas are his favorite and I reckon I inherited that trait. You have to cook 'em just so...for a long time with bacon and plenty of water until they're soft enough not to crack a tooth. Funny thing about those purple hulls. They get better every time you warm 'em up again. Peaches'n'cream corn is the same way. Daddy joined the Methodist church back when he married MaMa and has served the least of these like Jesus would do in so many ways. Prior to that he was a Southern Baptist, drug to church by Miss Laura who was always in the business of saving souls for the Lord. They all lived out there on the road to Roellen, right close to Billy Yeargin and them. When Daddy was just a boy, he fell out of the barn loft and broke both of his arms. Those bossy sisters of his wiped his tail until the arm bones healed enough for him to do the job. The oldest was Mary Virginia, with Helen close behind. The baby sister goes by the name of Katherine Rose...Kathy for short. We used to go to family reunions down in Blue Mountain, Mississippi where his family lived. I remember a big old house with a huge wrap around porch and lots of homemade pie. Since it was Mississippi in the summer, it was hot as hades but I didn't care as long as the screen doors didn't pop me me in the butt runnin' in and out to play. Life was good for the farmer's daughter. We went fishing in the cowponds with cane poles and dreams of the big bite. When winter set in it was time for the calves to be delivered and sometimes he would do the deed in the middle of a snowy night, all clad in insulated coveralls and totin' a chain to drag that baby moo into our beautiful world. One Christmas Eve he snuck out and made some reindeer tracks in the snow covered yard so that us kids would wake up to the miracle of Santa. He loves dogs, especially border collies.
I made Daddy cry one time, and I'll never forget the shame I felt over that. Late one night I crept out of the house to meet a boy out on the road for some smooching. Sometimes I still do feel like I've disappointed him in some way, but in my heart I know he's proud of who I am because I'm a lot like him. I can pitch a runnin' Stafford fit with the best of them. Happy Father's Day, BG. You done good.