I have always likened the image of my Daddy to that of an Indian Chief. It may be somewhat due to his fascination (which has trickled down to me) with not only our Indian ancestry but Indian heritage and history in general. For as long as I can remember, he has always been a reader of Indian lore and history. And everything he reads settles somewhere in his brain.
At a little over six feet tall and well over two hundred pounds, he is a formidable man in size. Character wise, he is a force to be reckoned with. His temper could be compared to that of a Texas tornado. The man is like a steel rod; his personality and opinions are unyielding. He says what he means, and means what he says. He absolutely does not mince words. As a little girl he never needed to say anything to keep me in line. His look, you know the furrowing of his brows and half open mouth, was enough to send me cowering. It’s probably important to say that even though I was raised in the day of it being common to get a good butt whooping with a belt, that my father never once laid a hand on me. (Maybe it was because I was an absolute angel…probably not, It most likely was real restraint on his part.) Anyway my father was not only a strong man in the physical sense but emotionally as well. He was not a sensitive man. And I don’t think the word stubborn was invented until my father came into existence. I’ve always known exactly what he expected from me, but due to my own oversensitivity, I never knew quite where I stood with him. He was a leader and absolutely never a follower.
This comparison of my father to an Indian chief brings me to a really funny story. When I was a teenager, I was incredibly embarrassed by my father’s behavior when he was drinking. On one such occasion, he and my mother dragged me to what I remember as a turkey shoot. My mother says it was a outside dinner that was held at night. At any rate there was food and lots of drinking. Everywhere I turned there were loud obnoxious people. It was the type of atmosphere that made me tremble to core of my being until my body visibly shook. I was disgusted with my father’s behavior, and my mother was equally annoyed. I begged to leave. My father ignored the pleas from my mother and myself. Then the torrential downpour came and the grounds became a huge muddy mess. Daddy’s two brothers happened to also be at the event. My mother secured a ride home for my father, and she and I left in our car.
Sometime in the wee hours of the morning my father arrived home, stumbling and cursing. My mother found him kicking at and trying to climb in the bathroom sink.
Mama: What the hell are you trying to do?
Daddy: I’m trying to take a damn piss.
Mama: It might be a little easier if you face the toilet and not the sink.
Then he falls into the bed. She notices he is an absolute muddy mess and has a knot on his head.
Mama: Who brought you home?
Daddy: Some damn drunk SOB.
Mama: What have you been doing? Fighting?
Daddy: Yeah, I been fighting.
Mama: Who did you get in a fight with.
Daddy: Some damn half breed.
Daddy: Some damn half breed I told you.
Mama: What’s his name?
Daddy: It’s that damn Quanah Parker!
Mama: And I guess you were flirting with his wife!
Daddy: Wife hell! He’s got seven damn wives.
Then she knew he was talking about the book he’d been reading.
Later that day, my uncle came by to check on my father. My mother questioned my father’s muddy appearance and the knot on his head. It end up that my father refused to get in the cab of the truck to ride home. Not only did he ride on the back of the truck, but he rode on the motorcycle that was tied down on the bed of the truck. My uncle got stuck in the mud and when he spun out, my dad flew off the back. He said they were afraid to check him because they feared he was dead when he wouldn’t move.
Needless to say, my mom was quite aggravated at my dad for a while. Time heals. Now, she recalls the story with laughter.
In the many years between then and now, my father has become a gentle and patient man. The embarrassment of his emotions has faded through time. He no longer hesitates to tell me that he loves me. He is still stubborn, but he is bendable…maybe just slightly. He still says what he means and means what he says. All he expects from me is to be of good moral character, and now I know where I stand with him.