Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sam Ralph and Uncle Ralph

Happy Father's Day Dad. I can't fathom that I've lived more years without you now than I did with you. Back in March, when your bride left here to join you wherever you are, I felt like my transition into an old guy was complete. With both of you gone I really felt like I had no roots in the ground. If all that you taught us about life after death is really true, then I would imagine there was quite a reunion.
Speaking of brides, I found the best. She often wonders whether or not you'd like her. I assure her that you would but she probably wouldn't know it. I always found you to be the guy who intimidated people just by walking in a room. Whenever you called my name I got scared. I'm not sure why - you never laid a hand on me. I never wanted to find out what the first time would be like so I generally kept myself out of trouble. Often is the occasion when I wish I could get people off my back just by giving them a glare. I wish you'd had time to teach that to me before you left. Since I've lost so much weight your daughters say I look like you. I have more hair than you did,,,but not much. My face does resemble yours, I reckon. If I could just learn that stare...
Happy Father's Day Uncle Ralph. I thought about you yesterday when I poured a cup of coffee and wandered around in my little garden for a while, just staring at stuff growing. When I was a kid I remember wondering what joy you found in drinking coffee and walking around outside when there was air-conditioning and color t.v. in the house. But now I sit for hours on my patio staring at my yard wondering what to dig up or plant next. Some days, I work two jobs. I think I learned to find joy in work from spending so many hot days on summer vacations tearing out sheetrock and puling weeds out of a garden with you. IBM and the Gwinnett Braves send along their appreciation for my work ethic. I had you longer than I had my own dad and you filled the hole quite nicely. Maybe we helped each other...I think maybe I filled a hole for you when you lost your youngest child, the one who woke up every morning wanting to follow your every footstep. I sure went to bed tired a lot of nights from trying to follow them myself.
I hope you'd both be pleased with the man I've become. The men that raised me were cut out of the Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Teddy Roosevelt mold. So how did I get cut out of that Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Buffett, Barney Fife mold? I'd be much happier sipping on a gin and tonic and pulling large fish out of the ocean while thinking of new songs to write than I would changing the world and being strong for others. Most men lament the loss of one father on Father's Day. I remember two. You'd both be pleased, though, that I'm still under the care of a man very much cut from that same mold. My father-in-law is military like the both of you were. He loves his country and his family and pretty much has zero tolerance for foolishness. Because of my time with the two of you, I feel as though I knew him before I met him. College football means as much to him as it did to us Dad. He calls me son and he's a father to me in every sense of the word. I've told him that the men that raised me would both be pleased with the job he's doing now (if it's possible to still be 'raising' a 45 year old man...but I think it is.) "The Greatest Generation" indeed. Y'all set the bar way too high.


Elisabeth said...

Great post. This is our first Father's Day without our grandfather - I planted a few tomato plants in his honor.

Here's to all the great men & fathers who have left us! Cheers!

Melinda Sileo said...

Daddy would have loved Rhonda and she would have known it for sure. Don't your remember how I would do something wrong and he'd fuss at YOU? It's the father/son father/daughter thing. He treated me softly and thought he had to make you tough. He wasn't so tough - he just wanted folks to think he was. Don't you remember him crying like a baby when he had to kill Ginger - our dog that went "mad" and became very dangerous very quickly? You are just like him. Some think you are tough - why do you think we took you with us to Dale's? (You want Pell Mells?)