Daddy, who built the frame house on our farm at Banner, was the kind of person I wish everyone in the world could be like. He was special to us children–partly because he wasn’t with us all the time like Mama was. His voice was gentle but he could get angry, too. He was not always understanding, but I knew he tried to be. He wasn’t perfect, but he almost was. I felt happy when older people told me how honorable, dependable and trustworthy he was; and it made me want to be like that, too. It was like inheriting something . . . much greater than wealth . . . riches of the spirit, I think you can call it. Often these feelings are camouflaged by people’s actions, but not Daddy’s. His heart showed in his blue eyes, and his concern for others was made known by his tone of voice and actions.
He was not formally educated; no barriers were ever formed between the innermost part of his heart and other people. The common, the elite, and the stranger were equal in his sight. He carried on conversations wherever he went. On his only trip cross-country, he talked with a Native American woman selling rugs in Arizona. She could speak only in her native language which Daddy couldn’t understand, although he was part Native American himself. His own father had a Native American given name for his middle name. Daddy’s mother was of Dutch descent. Daddy was an American–the kind who was proud to be one.
He was not only proud of America, he was proud of Arkansas, also. Living in the Ozarks all his life, he had grown so used to the beauty around him that he hadn’t paid much attention to it until he saw a home movie of the hills in their autumn colors. He then remarked, “That’s as pretty as any country anywhere.”
When he went from Banner each day to work as a carpenter, the people he worked for often gave him flower bulbs, rose cuttings, or lovely shrubs to take home to Mama.
Mama’s beautiful flowers were destroyed by the old blue goose each time she came into the yard. That same goose was sent to be sold to the peddler, but my brothers refused to sell her, and they brought her back home. After that, the goose was allowed to stay on at the farm. Often she would lay eggs, start to set on them, then leave the nest, and the eggs had to be gathered up. Once she made a nest in an old stump on the hillside and began to set on her eggs. Then one day, Daddy said to my sister, Emma, “Go check on the goose eggs. The old goose is off her nest.”
Grabbing the egg bucket, my sister stomped out of the house, grumbling about the instability of the old blue goose. Emma trudged up the grassy slope of the hillside toward the old stump, ready to gather up the abandoned eggs.
The old blue goose started honking loudly, ahead of her on the trail. Behind the goose, lots of little balls of yellow fuzz with orange beaks waddled right along!
Smiling, my sister, Emma, turned toward the house, and Daddy, watching from the kitchen window, smiled back at her.
Daddy’s gone now but the legacy he left us is a glimpse of the sun, that goes right on shining when each day is done.