Today I’m joining Judy at Retired-Not-Tired for Memory Monday. Today’s prompt is My Daddy.
My daddy was one of seven children, six boys and only one girl. Unfortunately, one of the boys and the girl died early in life, leaving only five sons. One particular thing I remember about the five brothers is they all had nicknames while growing up. I’ve forgotten what some of the nicknames were, but one uncle was known as “Bully”, while another was known as “Bo Day”. Daddy’s nickname was “Pretty Boy”, maybe because he liked to dress up and look nice.
My daddy’s father gave him a pocket watch on his eighteenth birthday because daddy hadn’t tried alcohol, up to that point. Unfortunately, after his father gave him that pocket watch, daddy decided to try alcohol, a few years later. What began as ‘social drinking’, eventually became full-blown alcoholism, a problem which plagued daddy throughout his life.
Daddy started out farming, but shortly after marrying mama, the two left country living behind, and moved to the big city of Jacksonville, Florida. Mama said she didn’t like the way daddy’s brothers took advantage of him, in the farming operation, so she encouraged him to quit, and make a new start.
For a while, in Florida, daddy was a traveling salesman, but I’m not sure what he sold, ’cause that was before my time. Later, after I was born, daddy drove a Sunbeam bread truck for a living, and, years later, for a time, he even ran a gas station.
Daddy, while living in Florida
In 1963, daddy and mama decided to move back to Georgia, and start over. Their drinking had landed them in a financial disaster. Once back in Georgia, daddy held several more jobs, including managing a grocery store.
Now, Daddy had a ‘green thumb’ and could grow anything. No matter where we lived, daddy usually had a small garden growing. He was able to grow enough vegetables to fill our freezer, and, often, would sell the extra vegetables to local grocery stores. The extra money often came in handy.
Daddy eventually became a guard at Georgia State Prison, where he worked until he retired, in 1988. Oh, the job-related stories daddy could tell! The prisoners could (and did) make weapons out of anything! A few of the prisoners were very talented, and put their talents to good use, making and selling all sorts of items. One of the most unusual items I can remember was a picture frame made entirely out of match sticks!
Daddy (cir. 1975) in his guard uniform
The years passed, and mama and daddy were finally able to purchase another home. The above picture was taken in front of that second home. Mama and daddy spent fifteen years, together, in this home, before illness struck.
Unfortunately, daddy’s final years on earth were tough ones. About the time he retired from working, his health began to rapidly deteriorate, at age sixty-two. First, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, followed by a nearly lethal battle with pneumonia.
The pneumonia was so bad, daddy stayed on a respirator, in ICU, for two months. Then, he also suffered more complications caused by the pneumonia (a blood clot of the intestines, caused by a lack of oxygen), which kept him in the hospital for a total of four long months! Daddy lost nearly one-half of his intestines to gangrene, before the doctors finally did exploratory surgery, and found the problem.
Daddy spent the final two years of his life shifting between hospitals and the nursing home. He eventually died, after his long battle with illness, on May 16, 1991, about a month after he celebrated his 65th birthday.
I was grateful for the extra time I had with daddy, even though much of it was spent at his bedside. Daddy and I hadn’t always been close, while I was growing up, but we developed a good relationship during those final years.