Born in 1927, the youngest of eight children, five brothers and two sisters, Dad grew up in the Cave Springs community in rural Hawkins County—a county in which he lived all his life. His father was born in 1880, and his mother in 1892.
Subsistence farming, especially during the Depression, was rough. The Depression had little affect on their lives, since life was difficult in that area anyway. Dad said that it was hard to find a nickel to rub between your fingers. Still, with strong extended family togetherness, with neighbors helping each other, the people survived. Life made them tough, independent, and stubborn, but also quietly concerned and caring for each other--not in words, for a man didn’t express his feelings, but in deeds.
In 1953, Dad took over the water well business, which his father started in 1901, with a mule-powered drilling machine. In 1959, Dad and Mom were married. I came along one year later, followed by three other brothers.
Dad passed away on January 25, 2008, after bravely enduring heart trouble for several years. This is our second Father’s Day without him. Dad never told me that he loved me; he wasn’t raised that way, but he was proud of me, and he loved me. He always wanted to feed me, have Sunday dinner ready when I arrived, send me home with my favorite Winesap apples, etc. That’s how he was raised to show his feelings. Dad and I butted heads at times, for we shared that stubborn Irish core, but we had a unique relationship.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I miss you. Tell Mom, Granny and Papaw Wood, Granny and Papaw Ferrell, and everyone else there that I said, “Hello.” A few more years, and we’ll all be together again. Until then, I’ll keep wearing the watch that I gave you one Christmas, to remember you.