Monday, March 8, 2010

A day to celebrate

Today would have been my father's sixty first birthday. The boys and I celebrated by making a cake, looking at pictures and talking about the wonderful man their grandfather was.

A week before I was born my mother and father bought the house that Shelby and I are raising our boys in now. It is here that my parents instilled a love for rural life in my brother and sister and me and where the five of us had more good times than I could ever begin to recount. When Shelby and I were given the opportunity to buy this house from my mother three years ago we knew it was where we wanted to be and where we wanted to raise our family. There hasn't been a day since that I have regretted the decision.

I was a young girl when we got our first flock of chickens. Both of my parents encouraged my love for the birds. My mother took me to the library where I checked out every chicken book I could find and for weeks afterwards my father patiently and attentively listened while I proudly recited all that I had learned.

He was a brilliant wood worker who made beautiful furniture, and custom doors from his shop just down the hill from our home. I walk by it several times a day when I feed my chickens and when I have occasion to go inside the smell of wood brings me back to the untold amount of time I spent there as a child. He worked tirelessly in that shop. He was the hardest worker I've ever known and would often push himself beyond the point of exhaustion to put food on the table but the unconditional love and unwavering support that he gave us seemed to be completely effortless. 
Along with my mother he made us feel like there was nothing we couldn't accomplish and nothing we were lacking.

Even though he struggled his whole life with the loss, grief and abandonment he experienced as a child, he was an amazingly positive and optimistic man. He taught us to be better than he was, to know our principles and to live by them. He taught us that each day could be our last, often reminding us, "I could get hit by a bus tomorrow" it may sound a little gloomy and morbid but coming from him it always seemed more inspirational and invigorating than anything.

Cancer killed him more than eight years ago but I feel like I'm still learning from him and about him. He has made me a better mother to the grandsons he never got to meet and a better wife to the man he didn't live to see me marry.

He was a really good man whose flaws were as clear to him as they were to anyone else but he never tried to pretend he was anything that he wasn't. He lived a kind and honest life worth celebrating.



  1. Laurel, what a tribute. Such a great way to celebrate his birthday. I wish I'd gotten to meet him. I remember being little and Mama and Daddy would talk with such fondness about their friends Tomas and Cerelle.

  2. Beautifully written, Laurel.

  3. Thanks for making me cry, Laurel. We were so fortunate to have him in our lives, and though he died too soon, I'm so grateful that I knew him for as long as I did.

  4. Here's my Tomas story:

    He and I were in ya'll's shop, discussing the work world. I told him I'd never had a job where you could grow your hair any length you wanted --every workplace had limited my facial and hair length. He was just amazed at that! He said he'd never work at a place that told him how he could look! I think about him every day that I don't shave...which is most days. He was a groovy guy I haven't forgotten, like anyone could forget Tomas.

    Mark Campbell

  5. (Oh good grief, I was just trying to edit, and it sorta-kinda deleted instead).

    Laurel, this says so many things that are always on the tip of my tongue about our dad. Especially the way I feel like my relationship with him continues on--I relate to him in new ways as I get older, I understand new things about him and learn new lessons.

    Thanks for writing this.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. I love stories that remind me of the days when life was so much simpler. And with such character! You are so blessed to have the opportunity to raise your family in your old family homestead, making new memories.