Yesterday I got the word from my cousin that her Dad, my Uncle Bill, had passed peacefully in his sleep at 5:30 A.M. This brought back so many memories, not only of my Uncle, but how I grew up for most all of my childhood without what is known as a Father, but a Grandfather. In my later years, I can appreciate that fact in ways that even I have trouble wrapping my head around what an outstanding father figure that this man was to my brother and me.
When I was growing up I did not know that my family was different, really. It all seemed perfectly normal to me. My brother and I had our Mom, plus we had our Grandparents. All three worked hard at jobs outside of the home, yet somehow they always managed to be sure that one of them would be home for us. None of my friends ever commented on me not having a Dad.
It was not until I was in 3rd grade that I saw what I now refer to as the "Harper's Valley PTA" come to life. It seemed that my Mom filled out the form to become a member of the school PTA organization and she left the line blank that said Father. In the classroom, the "Mommy Dearest" who was over the PTA called me up in front of everyone to ask me the name of my Father. I did not know. This adult really seemed to be upset that I did not know and started talking to the teacher, who actually allowed this to go on for a while. I was feeling quite embarrassed.
When I got home, I discussed it with my Mom. She automatically went into a total hissy fit. She repeated that she was so mad that she could just spit! Well, anyone that knew my Mother knows that something major happened to make her go over the edge like that. Believe me, you would not want to be the person on the other side of 'the edge.' My Grandparents did calm her down for the night, at least.
The very next day we were in the Principal's Office. I stayed out in the waiting area while she went back with Mr. Bickers to tell him of the problem. I can guarantee you that was all it took. There is no way to know what he said to the teacher, however, "Mommy Dearest" was no longer the one coming in to pick up PTA forms for membership. hmmmmmm
So there was my first clue that I came from a different kind of family and I have only positive things to look back on from growing up in that environment. My Papaw gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person in that he believed in me. He demonstrated to me how a lady should be treated by his gentleness toward my Mamaw.
My Mother and Mamaw gave me my determination, but it was my Papaw who gave me my dreams and to go for them. He would take me and my brother fishing. Even though I had trouble being quiet and he was always shushing me unless I wanted to scare away the fish. He never took me hunting; then again it was something that really never appealed to me. Once I was in the backseat of his car driving home from his parents' country home when he stopped the car and got out his shotgun. I looked over in the field and saw a herd of rabbits near their warren. To my horror he was aiming for them; that is until I yelled out the window, "Run, rabbits, run!"
This patient man had a look on his face like I had never seen before. I knew that he wasn't happy, yet he never once scolded me. I, on the other hand, was extremely happy that I had saved those rabbits from rabbit stew. (Not that I would have eaten it anyway!)
Without going into too much detail, I did get to make a brief contact with my birth father. He was living in another state. It was a very emotional contact and one that I am so glad that I was able to make. Before we could plan a trip to visit him, we got the word that he had passed away from a massive heart attack. What I do feel good about is that I was able to at least let him know (even though I am sure that he did know, he got to hear the words from me) that I have no blame to place on anyone.
Life is too short to have crazy, needless drama going on. So I count my blessings that I had a Papaw in my life who always had a guiding hand on my shoulder to steer me in his calm and gentle manner.