2018-06-13 / Editorials

Don Lively

DADDY WAS

Daddy had a saying. “I’m a pretty good ol’ hoss doctor.” Indeed, he was. Years ago a younger relative was playing in the woods around our homeplace and accidently wandered into a briar patch. The lad managed to extricate himself from the prickly thicket but in the process he somehow got a thorn stuck in a very tender, very private part of his young body that shall go anatomically unidentified here. Use your imagination. He came running into the house screaming to high Heaven but then refused to let anybody look at the offended area. Nobody except his Granddaddy, my Daddy. Daddy took the boy into a back bedroom, got a bottle of alcohol and a sewing needle and within minutes the thorn had been extracted and the boy had calmed down.

Daddy had once again cemented his role as one of our family’s heroes.

Daddy grew up with twelve brothers and sisters, played football before there were facemasks, spent time working in a CCC camp (Civilian Conservation Corps) and fought a war all over Europe with the Greatest Generation.

One little thorn, no matter how inconveniently located, didn’t bother Daddy in the least.

The first man ever created by God, our ancestor Adam, was put in charge of a garden full of plants and animals.

Adam was a farmer.

So was Daddy.

He was also a realist and a bit of a cynic.

Years ago when we got our first irrigation system on the farm I was amazed at the technology. That long ago watering procedure, I’m sure totally antiquated these days, was a sight to behold the way it covered the fields with the life-sustaining water.

One day Daddy and I were watching the system do its thing when my enthusiasm bubbled over.

“Daddy, this is great! It can water this whole field in less than a week!”

He just kept staring at the pumping water.

“Son, the Good Lord can do the same thing in thirty minutes,” he said, then added, “I just wish He’d do it more often.”

Having lived the life that he did, Daddy had seen enough death that he wasn’t particularly affected by it, especially when it came to animals. He wasn’t much of a dog lover but he did once buy a deer hound named Jake. Daddy liked Jake as much as a rough old farmer was capable of. Jake only lived with us for a year or so and he was never penned up like other hunting dogs in our neck of the woods.

That turned out to be Jake’s downfall.

He got hit by a car and was killed instantly.

I was a bit tearful when I talked to Daddy about it.

“Jake’s dead, Daddy. What are we going to do?”

“I’m sorry he’s gone but I can’t breathe life back into him. Let’s get him buried.”

Daddy had his strong qualities but being a comforter wasn’t one of them.

Daddy was a teacher, in his own way.

One day we were at one of the remote fields down on the river. We weren’t working, we were just walking and looking. I spotted some little white flowers and I asked Daddy if I should pick some for Mama. He told me to go ahead. Turns out it was nettle. It stung me and I jerked my hand away like I’d been snakebit. Daddy and Mr. Chester got a kick out of that.

Until this day I know what nettle looks like and I’ve never touched it since.

Daddy was a rescuer.

He once saved my brother Urb, Cousin VZ and me from a goat that had run us up a tree when we dared to enter the goat’s private pasture. Another time he coaxed me down out of another tree that I’d climbed high enough to become terrified. And then there was the time we were at the stock yard appraising livestock when an unhappy bull jumped the arena railing into the stands where we were sitting. Daddy got us all out of there untrampled.

Daddy was a leader as evidenced by his many years of service on the county school board.

Daddy was an advisor. I couldn’t count the number of other farmers, young and old, who came to him for counsel.

Daddy was a great teller of tales. If you like my stuff, his genetics get much of the credit.

Daddy was a great man.

And a pretty good ol’ hoss doctor.

Happy Heavenly Father’s Day, Daddy.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin’At The Dixie Moon, and, South O’Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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