Looking up to someone not just measure of height

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 6/26/20

These words, of course, come after the fact — a characteristic that sems to fit my nature. I won’t say I’m always slow or late but I’ve been known to take awhile to get started on some things …

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Looking up to someone not just measure of height

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Posted

These words, of course, come after the fact — a characteristic that sems to fit my nature. I won’t say I’m always slow or late but I’ve been known to take awhile to get started on some things and then to drag them out until the last ounce of life is gone.

It was the realization, I guess, that on the calendar last Sunday was Father’s Day that got me started down this road.

That and the realization that July 1, soon to be here, is their wedding anniversary date.

It was in 1933.

In Bennettsville, South Carolina.

They “ran away” — eloped is the formal word, I believe.

Lots of folks did that then, I’m told. For some reason it was easier to get married south of the border than at home in North Carolina. She was 15; he was 21.

I know, I know...today that would be all sorts of crimes — child abuse, crossing state lines, underage issues and on and on. But then...well, it was different.

She used to tell me she “was mature for my age” and she didn’t mean just physically.

She grew up the daughter of millworkers. Her dad also subsidized providing for their 12 children by working as postmaster of their little village and her mom tended a garden, scrimped and saved, and added a cup of water to the soup when necessary. The life of a child then in the days of the Great Depression would, no doubt, cause you to grow up in a hurry.

One day she met a young man of that same village. I never heard her say where, when or how; maybe she always knew him. I don’t know. She did say he was a ladies’ man...or, at least, he thought he was. The first time they went out — to church on a Sunday night — he was late and she decided he wasn’t going to add her as a mark in his little black book so she went on without him.

He showed up late at her house that evening after she left but made sure he was the one who walked her home from church.

I don’t know how long the courtship lasted but apparently it wasn’t extremely lengthy until that day, along with another couple as witnesses, they became Mr. and Mrs.

From that union came my two brothers and me.

They’ve been gone some time now — he left in 1992; she followed 11 years later.

I still miss them.

Tremendously.

Think of them every day.

He left in such a hurry I didn’t get to tell him goodbye. Died with his boots on. Best way to go. She lingered. I spent years telling her goodbye until that day.

His was better.

It took me months to stop almost picking up the phone or turning into the nursing home. Now I look at the pictures. Remember them when something crosses my mind. Need to take out one of the old family VHS tapes and stick it in...if I could figure out how to operate the mechanism.

I really didn’t have a favorite parent; they were just different. I’m told sometimes children do like one better than the other. I suppose that’s true and maybe alright. I don’t know from my own experience.

She tended to cut to the chase, offering advice and direction sometimes without asking. “Nobody cares more about your welfare than I do,” she’d say at those times.

I believe that.

He, on the other hand, would let us plow our own field, learning sometimes the hard way as we hit rock after rock. But even when things went sour never did we hear an “I told you so.” It was more like, “What did you learn?”

I read something the other day. Made me think once again about them. It was about fathers, written by Margaret Truman. I think it applies to me...maybe to you, too, if you care to have it do so.

It said, “It’s only when you grow up and step back from him — or leave him for your own career and your own home — it’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it.”

Their three sons were all taller than both of them. I remember once we three surrounded him in his living room and took turns patting him on top of his head, just messing with him. He squirmed and howled in protest but I think he liked it — and was proud.

We may have been taller but we still looked up to them then.

Still do...

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