It’s no secret in my family I was my daddy’s favorite daughter. Why wouldn’t I be? I am the oldest of two daughters, the only child until I turned eight-year-old and to my mother’s dismay, I was a tomboy.
I’m blessed to still have my dad with me. Each holiday and Father’s Day are more and more special to me and my sister. The older we become, the more we want to sit and listen to our parents talk about when they grew up and tell us stories passed on to them by their parents and elders in our Native American community.
Background about my Dad….
My dad’s name is Andrew, a fraternal twin, and he is the twelfth child out of thirteen born to farmers, in rural southern, North Carolina in 1947. Raised on a farm, my dad did not get an opportunity to go to school a full year because he had to help his dad tend to the farm. All ten of my dad’s older brothers and sisters got the opportunity to go to some type of college due my dad working the farm. When Dad graduated from high school, Papa (my dad’s dad) passed, and no one was left to tend to the farm. Instead of my dad’s brothers and sister’s helping him find a way to go to college, he was told to go get a job.
What my Dad taught me….
My dad taught me my first lesson in forgiveness. Growing up, knowing my dad was cheated from the opportunity to have a better life filled me with resentment. For years and years, I despised my dad’s family, especially when they came to visit, my cousins could not restrain themselves from bragging about all the nice clothes and things they had and talk nonstop about their trips and vacations. We never got to go on vacation nor spend a week at the beach. Our summers were spend in the garden, canning and Vacation Bible School at church.
Growing up as a tomboy, has given me advantages over the years. I know how to split wood with an ax, how to milk a cow and how to change a tire. I can jump a car with battery jump cables (although today, with all the computer chips, it’s not recommended). I can hang sheetrock, tape the joints and stencil the ceiling. I know how to paint, sand wood and stain it. I know how to drive a tractor, a stick-shift and a three-speed on the collar and I can drive a forklift. One of my proudest moments was when I took the drivers exam to get my bus license and I backed a school bus down the highway for half a mile without running of the pavement. I can honestly say I can drive backwards just as good as I can drive forwards.
Dad taught me the importance of working for what you want in life and not giving up just because someone says I can’t. He taught me about humbleness, honesty, and the importance of being true to myself and my heritage. And when times get tough, dad taught me how to get down on my knees and pray.
My dad taught me how to shoot a gun, how to fish, how to gut and clean fish and he taught me how to fight like a man. I’ll never forget my dad’s words when I came home from school when I was nine-years-old, with a bruise caused by a bully.
“Baby, don’t you ever let no man nor woman put their hands on you again. Now don’t you go starting no fights,” he wagged his slim, long, index finger at me. “Cause, if you do, word will get to me and I’ll have to spank you, but if they come at you first, we’ll I give you permission to fight them like a man.”
From that moment froward, I never let anyone knock me around just because they wanted to. And the times I was sent to the principal’s office for defending myself, daddy was there for my defense.
As the years have passed, my dad has always been by my side, right along with my mom and husband. If there were more dad’s like mine, this would be a better world.