A few days after dad
died but before the funeral I decided to put a few thoughts about him
down in writing.
Dad's larynx had been removed several years earlier and I hated that I
could not recall his
voice. I did not want to have the same thing happen about other
memories so I
started writing. As I wrote, I felt like I was getting things down like I
I thought it was
good enough to be read at the funeral so I took it home and had some
family members read it. They agreed that it was appropriate so I asked
my sons if one
of them would read
it. We also felt mom should read it rather than to hear it for the first
time at the ceremony. She liked what it
said but wanted me to read it. I finally agreed to
try but that I would
have one of the boys ready to help me if I
needed help. After the
funeral several of
my nieces and nephews wanted me to put the letter on my web site
they could see it whenever or wherever, so I decided on this format.
The following is
My first memory of dad was of him working. He had goggle marks around his eyes, a cutting torch in his hand and sweat running everywhere. Dad was the hardest worker that I ever knew. He just plain loved to sweat. He was also the hardest player I ever knew and played in ways and places that most of us could never even imagine. I think that since there isn’t a day of the year where playing hard is celebrated that it was appropriate the Lord chose Labor Day to take him from us.
Many people knew dad in business dealings as well as on a personal basis. Mom wanted to have “Business-Man” for his occupation on his obituary. I think for me however the best single word for dad’s occupation would be “Salesman.” I recall many times after he had made a deal that the customer would comment that they thought they had paid too much but that dad had convinced them that they had gotten the best of him. I don’t think there is anything he could not sell if he set his mind to it.
Dad could always take any situation and quickly put it in perspective. I recall just a few months ago when I took him in to see Dr. Johnson for his cancer checkup. Dad had been feeling really well and we were expecting good news so just the two of us went to the appointment. Dr. Johnson came in and told us that this appointment was the kind he hated the most. He told us the Chemo treatments were no longer effective and that there was nothing else available. Dr. Johnson said that from here on we were looking at a “quality-of-life” situation. After we talked about our options and dad waved bye to all of his “nurse girlfriends” in the center, we got back in the pickup and headed back to the Manor. We were both very quiet. As we drove along, dad reached for his buzzer and put it to his neck and said- “wasn’t that a kick in the ass.”
We all know people that have the ability to visit and cheer up people that are sick or injured. Dad was one of those people. Even when he knew his end was near, he was still going to visit sick friends whenever he could. Where many of us would feel uncomfortable or would have hated to intrude, or would not have had the time, dad would always know when to go and what to say. Where I could not bring myself to go to a funeral dad could always go. People just seemed to feel better after a visit from dad.
Of course no one is perfect and dad never claimed to be. I know there were people that got mad at him and probably some that could never get over it. I am sure that dad did not like that to happen, but I also feel confident that he did not let it control him. He always knew how he wanted things done and if you couldn’t live with it that was ok with him. Mom wanted one of the songs today to be “I did it my way.” Well we decided that probably wouldn’t work, but I feel it pretty well describes dad’s life.
I really believe that dad felt there was nothing he could not do if he set his mind to it. He told me once that his goal was to make Tom, Joetta and I millionaires. Well, at one time he nearly had it done. If it wasn’t for the European Corn Bore and 21½% interest rates I think he would have got it done. Most importantly he wanted to be sure mom was going to be ok if he went first. I think that it took some strange events to make that happen, but I know when he died he knew she was going to be where she needed to be and was going to be getting the care he was used to giving her.
Dad loved to make friends. I am not sure he ever met a stranger. Once you were dad’s friend you knew right away it was going to be special. Dad was constantly making life long friends and tried very hard to stay in contact with them.
Although friendship was important to dad, his greatest love was family, especially his grand and great grandchildren. Whenever I was upset with a family member he always told me that you don’t mess with family. His love for his grandchildren and great grandchildren was as strong as it could possibly be. He tried to go to all of their activities and he and mom would visit them whenever they could no matter how far they had to drive. He was always ready for them to come by the house and get some ice cream, juice or candy. Over the years dad had become well known to many kids in the Cimarron area as the Candy Man.
One of our long-time employees and I visited this week about dad. He said that they broke the mold when dad was born. I agree with this and I am sure all who knew him well would agree. However when I look at his grandchildren and great grandchildren I am not so sure. There may not be another Charlie T. but there is no doubt that part of him is in all of them and they will all be better men and women because of it. Pete.Pete. BACK