There are some people who are so unique that no adjective seems adequate enough to describe them. They are such distinct individuals that a written description eludes me.
My dad is a person such as this.
His life was never easy. The youngest of four children, three boys and one girl, he was raised on a mill village in South Carolina. His father was extraordinarily strict, to the point of being abusive at times. My grandfather found solace in a bottle, but I still have a handmade wooden heart necklace with my name on it. So I know he was a good person who made poor choices.
My grandmother was loving, kind and very creative when it came to disciplining her brood.
The boys were a little wild and when the time came to think about education, my dad wasn’t too interested. But then he met my mom.
Together, they moved to the small town of Mars Hill, NC where they both worked his way through college. He later became an English teacher. Though I’ve never actually seen him read a book, he can recite the entire prologue to The Canterbury Tales in Old English and has calligraphy-like handwriting.
He taught school during the 70s and 80s. He had huge classes and along with teaching all day, he drove a bus, coached basketball and sponsored the newspaper club. At night, he taught GED classes at a prison. On the weekends, his favorite thing to do was visit flea markets and haggle over prices.
When my sister and I were born, he continued teaching during the day and in the evenings, he worked as the store manager at a retail store.
At Christmas, instead of buying a tie or golf balls, I get online and buy him a box set of Hank Williams Sr. or go a thrift store and purchase some classic country records because he still likes listening to records.
At my wedding, I danced with him to a Merle Haggard song and cried my eyes out the entire time. He just touches my heart in an indescribable way.
My dad and mom have been married for over 50 years, and he still makes her coffee every morning. She still worries about him more than herself.
He has a beautifully deep voice and can sing like Elvis or Marty Robbins. When I call him, he answers the phone with “Hello, darlin’,” and sounds exactly like Conway Twitty.
My dad’s not into exercise, but he doesn’t really need to be. The man never sits down. He’s insanely active with a naturally high metabolism. Picture Barney Fife and you’ve pictured my dad’s frame.
He has a way with words. As a writer, I can be picky with words, but he writes the sweetest, most moving cards.
So when the time came recently for my mom to buy him a truck, it took a long time to find the perfect one. First off, my dad is extremely simple. He doesn’t like spending a lot of money, and he doesn’t want anything fancy. In fact, he would rather have something reused or recycled. She looked and looked, waiting to find something he felt like wasn’t too pricey and that fit his personality.
It took a while, but finally, they settled on this little white truck. It’s an older Ford Ranger with no power anything. And he loves it. When I saw the truck, I smiled in the most genuine way. My dad just wouldn’t look right in a Ford F-250 or a Toyota Tacoma.
He’s so special and unique, they needed to find the perfect truck for him. And they did.
I can’t explain why, but seeing him in this truck really impacted me. It made me think how lucky I was to have been raised by someone so distinct and one-of-a-kind. By just being himself, he encouraged me to travel my own path, and to be kind, generous and selfless while doing it.