It’s hard to believe that it’s been 11 years since my father died, but it has. Having suffered with emphysema and chronic lung disease for years, he died early on the morning of October 19, 1998. It was Sunday. My brother Mike called around 5:00 a.m. to let me know that the end was nigh so Carrie and I quickly dressed and headed for Camden. We stopped for gas at what used to be called Jimmy Carter’s between Florence and Aynor, and that’s when and where I got the news. I NEVER ride by there without thinking about how I felt when my sister Ann told me. I just couldn’t believe that I had missed his last moments.
This isn’t a post about his death but rather about his life and his lasting legacy. Every day of their lives my parents showed by word and deed how a person was supposed to live. They weren’t perfect, of course. No one is. But at the same time I can honestly say that I daily express gratitude for the examples they set and the sacrifices they made. They loved the four of us and their grandchildren very much. Even when he was his sickest, he’d always made sure to shower and shave and dab on some Aqua Velva if he knew any of us were coming. I loved that.
John Marlon was tall, dark, and handsome. And yes, I definitely am more than a little biased, but even my daughter Elizabeth frequently says, “Mom, Granddaddy Padgett looked like a movie star. Even my friends think so.” Looks fade, but character remains, and until the end, he was honest and dependable.
Somewhat eccentric, especially in his later years, we never knew what he was going to think of next…or to say. I well recall when he got on a chaos theory jag and wanted to share his ideas with all of us. I finally said something like, “Daddy, I’m too busy thinking about laundry, meal preparation, and soccer practice to even try to understand the definition, much less delve into its concepts.” He seemed to accept that. I think he felt a little sorry for me, but I don’t know whether it was because of my working mother role or because he thought I was too dense to grasp chaos theory.
Time is short, and I really need to get busy with work. After all, he and my mother taught us all about the Protestant work ethic, and I feel certain that he might disapprove of my using work time to write a tribute to him. I just want to say that I miss him…a lot, especially today. I miss having someone in my corner who would always listen to my ideas no matter how far out they were. He’s the only person in my family who understood my conversion to the LDS faith. Or rather, he was the only one who wasn’t upset or judgmental about it. He knew his eldest child was not (and is not) flighty and fickle, that she investigates things fully before taking a course of action.
Better get to work. By the way, the pictures above don’t do him justice, but they’re the only ones I have on my desktop at work.