Daddy, who built the frame house on our farm at Banner Mountain, was the kind of person you 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 you knew he tried to be. He wasn’t perfect, but he almost was. You felt good when older people told you how honorable, dependable and trustworthy he was. And it made you want to be like that, too. It was like inheriting something–greater than wealth–riches of the heart, I think you can call it. Often, these feelings are camouflaged by people’s actions, but not Daddy’s. All his heart showed in his blue eyes, and his concern for others was 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 began conversations wherever he went. He liked people.
And he liked the beauty of nature. The beauty he found when he went from Banner each day to work as a carpenter, he often brought home to Mama in the form of flower bulbs, rose-cuttings or some other type of shrub the people he worked for had given him.
The flowers Daddy brought to Mama were not the kind you buy at a florist or nursery for he couldn’t afford those, but the rose-cuttings and flowering shrubs were given to him by people he worked for– building or remodeling houses. One rose-bush climbed high into a pine tree, and bloomed there as though the blooms were attached to the tree.
In one corner of the yard, a grand-daddy graybeard grew tall and sturdy. Early each spring, white beard-like blossoms showered the shrub like snow falling. Daddy brought this flowering ash from the woods in full bloom and set it out. Ordinarily, shrubs transplanted at the height of bloom, won’t grow, but the graybeard that Daddy planted grew and bloomed as though it had never been moved from its original location.
One time my mother and my sister, Emma Jean, started to dig in the northwest corner of the yard to plant some flowers.
“I don’t think that’s a good place to plant your flowers,” Daddy said.
“Why not?” Emma Jean asked.
“Because I’ve got a pecan tree planted there,” Daddy replied.
The pecan tree still grows, these long years after Daddy has been called home.
He was an example of the Bible verse, Ephesians 6:4, “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
And the sunshine instilled in my heart still shines–because he was my dad.
He loved his family.
And we loved him.
© 2015 Freeda Baker Nichols