Tag Archives: daddy

This is Who I am

This Father’s Day I thought about my father more than usual.  Maybe, it was the day, or maybe, it was all that is going on in the world, but he was on my mind throughout the day.   My father would have been uneasy with the protests even though he would have agreed in the principles of equality and justice for which the protestors marched.  However, he would not have understood or agreed with those who rely on vandalism and violence as their voice – to him property represented the sweat and sacrifice of men who like him came from nothing to make something of themselves, but he would have kept to himself and said little.  He preferred to keep to himself, but if pushed, he would let it be known where he stood and follow it up with a “I don’t give a rat’s ass” if someone disagreed with him.  He figured if he had to agree with a person just to get them to like him, to be cool, to be a part of the group, or to be sociable, he was barking up the wrong tree – a tree full of rattlesnakes he called them.  His children, a boy and three girls, were taught with no apologies to do the same.  His rules for living were simple:  treat people like you want to be treated; stand for what you believe is right; do right; tell the truth; and be honest.

My father was a simple man who often worked double shifts to make ends meet.  We were not poor, but there were times we held desperately to the bottom rung of middle class with mama in tears wondering where she might scrape together the monthly sixty-dollar house payment.  Mama and daddy worked hard with little extra to spare, but never a year passed without birthday presents and gifts under the Christmas tree – the only two times during the year my sisters and I received a toy unless daddy made a slingshot from a tree branch or a wood doll cradle.  Unlike many children today, we did not dare turn up our noses at any birthday or Christmas present even if we might be disappointed.  We dared not be appreciative for fear there would not be a gift the next time around.  We were lucky tough, Santa Claus always brought us that one special doll or Red Rider BB gun we had prayed for all year.  Santa never failed us kids.  At the same time, we never understood why daddy was gone so often during Christmas season.  We had no idea he was working double shifts to make Christmas happen.

By the time I was in high school, things were a little better.  Even though Daddy worked fewer double shifts, we began to have a little extra money in the house.  The first thing he bought was a window air conditioner for the den area.  Mama and daddy sat staring at that air conditioner and taking in the cold air for at least two hours.  The next summer, he bought our first color television after unsuccessfully trying for weeks to use red and green cellophane to colorize the picture, and then my senior year, 1971, he bought the first new vehicle he had ever owned – a red Ford pickup.  We were in high cotton, but Mama cautioned my sisters and I not to talk of the new things Daddy had bought for fear the neighbors might think we were foolish with our money and uppity.  Daddy frowned and curled his top lip when one of my sisters told him what Mama said.  If he could have had his way, I am confident he would have told everybody in town.  I think he felt he had earned the right to be a bit uppity.  I would have to agree – he had every right.

All he wanted in life was for his family to be happy and to be left alone and to occasionally get to go hunting or on a family vacation to the Ozarks or the Smoky Mountains – the extent of his travels in his lifetime.  A high school diploma for his children was also important to him, and not going to school was not a choice in his house.  To him, a high school education, and a reasonable paying job – he believed good paying jobs were reserved for those who knew the right people – were the most important contributions his children could give to the family; however, he did not stand in the way of his children if a college education was their goal, which for me it was.

He was always careful not to get wrapped up in politics or controversies.  Basically, he refused to argue at all unless maybe he was haggling over money.  He said bluntly, “It is a waste of time to argue or reason with an evangelist, a politician, or someone who thinks his shit doesn’t stink,” and if you wanted to argue that, he would simply smile and walk away.  We did not always agree, but through the years, I have learned he had more wisdom than I gave him credit.  Like any man, he had his faults, but he was a good father, and he taught his children to stand for what they believe regardless the direction the wind was blowing.

I guess in many ways I am my father.  He would not agree with some stands I have taken, but I can hear him ask, “Do you think it is right?”  If I answered, “I do not know, or I am not sure,” he would say, “Then don’t do it until you are.”  If I answered, “Yes,” he would have nodded and changed the subject feeling there was nothing left to say.   I tell this story because I should have told it long ago.  My father was a conservative; I am somewhere slightly to the left of him.  He was not a Democrat or a Republican; in that, he and I are on the same page.  Although he did his best to be as good a man as possible, like his father he was raised in a racist society; I was raised his son with some of those same influences, but he taught me to be better.  He did his best to ensure his children grew up better and more understanding; I pray my children are better than I am, and because of their mother, I am confident of it.

My father apologized to no man for who he was or how he was raised.  He spent his life trying to raise his children to be his better and reached out to any man who needed a helping hand.  Likewise, I do not apologize to any man for who I am or how I was raised, and I have tried to raise my children to be better than I am as well as stand for the humanity and rights of all people.  That is all my father could have done.  That is all I can do.  That is all any of us can do.

We can pass laws that promote the humanity and equality of all people, and we should, but laws by themselves will not erase racism.  We will not erase racism in a lifetime of protesting, vandalism, and destruction.  Every offensive monument and statue can be toppled, and it will not erase where we have been nor will it build a bridge to where we should be going.  To change racism will take one father and one mother at a time doing their best to raise their children with more understanding and love in their hearts than they were raised.  Racism is not a color thing; it is a people thing.  None of us were born racist.  Racism is a learned trait bred and nurtured in the home, and that is where we can make the most significant advances against it.

I am who I am with the desire to be better than who I am.  That is all we can ask of each other.

That is what my father asked of me.

©Jack Linton, June 21, 2020

To Our Grandchildren – The Secret of Before Time Started

When I grew up (my oldest granddaughter says, “before time started”) communities were less diverse than today.  Before time started, you could walk house to house, farm to farm, and not find an ounce of difference in the values people held dear to their hearts.  The values held in the home were reinforced down the street at Uncle Elmer’s house, Mrs. Cotton’s house, Lott’s Grocery, or in the public library.  The only diversity was some ate salt on their watermelon and some did not.  Values were taught in the home and reinforced up and down the street, church to school, and from the courthouse to the local bank.  Unfortunately, that is seldom true anymore.

Today, more often than not, we do not know our neighbors down the street; therefore, we can no longer be sure the person three doors down has the same values as we do, or has values at all.  It is a sad commentary on our society, but we can no longer trust our children to the neighbourhood for safe keeping – physically or morally.  We have grown too isolated and distant for such trust.  On top of that, time has become an issue.   Regardless of the makeup of the neighbourhood, it is ultimately the responsibility of parents and grandparents to make time to instill and reinforce family values.  However, we live in a society where the best intentions are often hogtied by a rush rush world.  Everyone is in such a hurry – work, ball games, dance, school activities, etc. – that there is little room for quality family time.  It becomes increasingly difficult to consistently reinforce the family values we hold so dear.  Values become the little things we push aside or overlook “just this time” for the sake of speeding to the next event in our busy lives.  Time gets away from us, and before we know it our children are grown and out on their own.  All that is left is our prayers that the values we taught them were enough, and nothing important was overlooked.  You never know, and it can drive you crazy wondering, especially if you are a grandparent where time has begun to speed by faster and faster.

Chasing time is fruitless; you can never win, but you can slow it down.  I slow it down by imagining a time warp in which my grandchildren are sitting around my table.  Except in this time warp, there is not a video game, cell phone, or television to cut into our time.  In my time warp, we conduct ourselves like families did before time started; we talk, laugh, and share one another.  I know that sounds crazy, and I realize this is not cool in the eyes of my grandchildren, but their definition of “cool” came along after time started, so it does not apply to grandfathers, like me, who think of water bubbling from a spring when the word is used.

Oh, yes, here they come!  Come in Nate, Kalyn, Mya, Kayden, Collier, and Pace, and sit with Mawmaw and me.  We are going on a journey.  No, not Disney World, but a journey much more important.  We are going back to a place before time started – a place where values and wisdom were handed down from parents and grandparents and reinforced daily in the community.  We are going back to a time when children ran and played, and parents prayed they did not grow up too fast.  No, Kalyn, we did not ride in horse drawn buggies, but I have on a special occasion or two.  Yes, we had electricity and running water, but most of all we had time for each other.

Yes, Nate, I understand it is stuff nobody wants to hear, yet, it is more relevant than Facebook, Snapchat, or video games.  Yes, Kalyn, “before time started” people actually talked to each other about such things as right and wrong, good manners, and proper etiquette.  No, Mya, they did not text; they used their fingers and hands to hold up one another.  Did they dance?  Oh my, yes, Kayden, they danced, and they sang, and you won’t believe this, but they did so in their homes – as a family.  Were there trees back then?  Yes, Collier, there were trees – great, strong trees.  Trees that gave their limbs to cradles, and one tree that carried a lamb on its shoulders at a place called Galilee.  Why?  Pace, I am so glad you asked.  The answer is so simple – love.  You see, the one thing we have in common with God is love, and before time started, people loved one another, and they didn’t care if someone thought that was cool or not.

Before time started, family was the coolest thing in the world; it was the world.  There was no escaping it; you were inundated with it at the dinner and supper table, reminded of it when working on rooftops or in the fields, and bathed in it every minute and hour of the day.  The wisdom and values conveyed through family was the only road map people needed to find happiness if they were wise enough to follow it.  Like today, life did not come with an instruction book, but way back before time started, it began with a family, and for those who listened and worked at it, that was all they needed.

So, boys and girls, listen close!  Mawmaw and Pawpaw are going to take you on a trip.  We are going to whisper to you the secrets of the place called Before Time Started.  A place where all cool parents and grandparents made time to teach boys and girls how to be good people.  A place where boys and girls were taught values that turned boys into gentlemen and girls into ladies.  So, everyone close your eyes and grab a hand, and we will travel to Before Time Started to learn the secret so many have forgotten.

The Secret of Before Time Started

The greatest influence on the world is what we teach our children at home:

  1. Hold the door open for others to enter a building – especially for ladies and the elderly;
  2. Say “Thank you” when given a compliment, gift, or an act of kindness;
  3. Say “Yes, mam” or “No, mam,” and “Yes, sir” or “No, sir – especially to your parents and elders, or as a sign of respect for anyone deserving. No, you do not have to do this, but it is the right thing to do;
  4. Granddaughters, be confident in yourself. You are as good, smart, and capable as any man.  Never sell yourself short because you are a woman or to please a man;
  5. Grandsons, stand and offer a lady or the elderly your seat on a crowded bus or in a crowded room;
  6. Learn to see, listen, and respect people through the eyes and ears of a blind man;
  7. Never talk down to people. It is rude and makes you appear arrogant and a fool;
  8. Granddaughters, always act like a lady. A woman is God’s symbol of beauty and pose in the world.  It is a daunting task at best, but in his eyes and the eyes of the world be deserving and carry yourself above the reproach of others;
  9. Grandsons, treating women, children, or animals with cruelty is never okay;
  10. If invited to dinner or supper, always compliment the food; if you don’t like the food, keep it to yourself;
  11. Never talk over someone during a conversation. The rule is simple:  I listen when you talk – you listen when I talk;
  12. Surround yourself with people of character with greater skills than your own;
  13. Be a leader, but remember sometimes it takes more courage to follow;
  14. Always leave the trail behind you better than you found it;
  15. Granddaughters, smile often. God made a woman’s smile to heal the world.  Her smile is intended to melt the hearts of men, reassure her children, and light the darkest day;
  16. Grandsons, to become a man, know your heart, put the needs of others before yours, trust in family, and have faith in God – everything else you need will fall into place;
  17. Don’t procrastinate, but take your time when making important decisions;
  18. Not everybody will like you. That is their problem; don’t make it yours;
  19. Embrace those less fortunate. Not everyone is dealt the same cards in life;
  20. Find a hobby! Find something you enjoy in life and do it – don’t worry about being good or bad – just do it!
  21. Being there for others is important, but do not forget yourself. Take time to do the things that are important to you;
  22. Public profanity or profanity as a part of your everyday language is never acceptable. It hurts the ears of ladies and children.  It instills a sense of false bravado.  It demeans your value;
  23. Your word is your honor. Guard your words closely.  Once your integrity is compromised, there is no going back;
  24. If you agree to work for a man for a dollar, give him your best. Work for him as though he was paying you double;
  25. There is nothing wrong with wanting more, but first, always be thankful for what you have;
  26. Granddaughters, walk beside your husband, but never compete with him;
  27. Grandsons, love and be proud of your wife. She is your backbone;
  28. Eat, drink, and have a blast in life, but take care not to lose your soul, waste your mind, or wreck your body in the process. Moderation is the key;
  29. Admit it when you are wrong. Everybody knows it, so own up and move on.  Sometimes saying “I am sorry” is your best play;
  30. Do not take yourself too seriously. Start and end your day by looking in the mirror and having a good laugh;
  31. Read at least thirty minutes every day;
  32. Look for the good in all men, but choose carefully to whom you expose your back;
  33. Good manners, kindness, and treating others the way you want to be treated as well as the way God intended people to treat each other is the greatest of God’s commandments – never take it lightly or for granted! Practice it daily!

Finally, the best advice I can offer is this:  bathe daily, use deodorant after you shower, brush your teeth after you eat, wear fresh clothes daily, respect your mama and daddy, treat everyone with kindness, talk gibberish to babies and animals, pray daily for strength and courage, leave judgement to God, be your own person, and be humble.  To be a man or a woman, you must stand for what you believe, fight for what you love, and treat with kindness all that falls under the spread of your wings.

Children, these are the secrets people knew and lived by before time started – secrets that enable us to live together and respect one another.  Before time started, these truths and values were passed from generation to generation until somehow, they became lost along the way.  In each of you is the light to bring these simple truths and values back to the world.  It is our prayer you will not keep these secrets to yourself, but will live by them and pass them to your children and grandchildren who in their time will pass them to theirs until a day comes when how to live together in peace and respect for one another is no longer a secret, and the world is turned upright once again.

Our love and prayers always, Mawmaw and Pawpaw.

Jl

©Jack Linton, June 12, 2017

Are You in Bed with a Conservative or a Liberal?

No matter the venue – television, radio, newspaper, or social media – you will likely hear “conservative” and “liberal” sloshed around like muddy drinking water.  “Conservatives to the right, liberals to the left,” Jimmy Buffet might sing to illustrate the depth of understanding for these overused and abused words.  If you are on the right, you are right, but if you are on the left, you are wrong, or should it be vice versa?  Who knows!  In today’s society, that question is too deep for the majority of people to comprehend.

Most people wouldn’t know a conservative from a liberal if one sat on their face and whistled Dixie.  When it comes to beliefs and values, they simply pick up where grandpa and grandma left off and mama and daddy still reside and dance along blissfully naïve in their footsteps.  They have no idea why they believe a certain way other than, somewhere along the way, they were told how they should think and believe.  Original thought is not well in America.

William Shakespeare said, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.”  It doesn’t get more miserable than the conservative and liberal relationship, nor do bedfellows come any stranger.  Maturity wise, both groups are not too far removed from the backseat “he touched me” whine heard on long risible family vacations.  They are reminders a mature understanding and acceptance of diversity and tolerance is not one of America’s strong points.  However, a major part of the problem, overlooked by so many, is few people are purely conservative or liberal; people tend to fall somewhere in between, which adds confusion to the issue.  To make matters worse, people are often tossed from the ranks of the conservative to the ranks of the liberal and back again with a word, statement, or action.  Membership in either group depends as much on the moment as it does on embedded values.  Like two people caught in a rocky marriage; it is hard to tell who you are in bed with sometimes, and that can indeed produce strange bedfellows.

You Know You Are in bed with. . . .

  1. You know you are in bed with a conservative if there is no foreplay;
  2. You know you are in bed with a liberal if you make love with the lights on;
  3. You know you are in bed with a conservative if your partner considers love making a duty;
  4. You know you are in bed with a liberal if your partner comes back for seconds;
  5. You know you are in bed with a conservative if your partner insists on paying because he/she doesn’t believe in a free ride;
  6. You know you are in bed with a liberal if sex is considered recreational;
  7. You know you are in bed with a conservative if there is a gun under the pillow;
  8. You know you are in bed with a liberal if there is a whip and a jar of honey under the pillow;
  9. You know you are in bed with a conservative if your partner believes the missionary position is the only one way to make love;
  10. You know you are in bed with a liberal if love making is a team sport;
  11. You know you are in bed with a conservative if your partner misses the point and is offended by this blog; and
  12. You know you are in bed with a liberal if your partner misses the point, and thinks the blog is a funny/satirical look at sex education.

So, are you and/or your partner a conservative or a liberal?  More important, who cares!  The truth is conservative and liberal tags are little more than excuses to enable people to express their ignorance about one another.

JL

©Jack Linton, August 7, 2016