He was a handsome devil, my dad. Smart too. His granddaughter Elizabeth has often said, “Mama, Granny and Granddaddy looked like movie stars when they were young!” Maybe I’m a little biased, but I always agreed with her. While disillusionment, disappointment, and disease (not to mention Father Time) robbed him of “some” of his handsomeness, they didn’t take away his bearing, his essence. We all loved him and yearned for his approval. I think we were a little awed by him, and a steely look could bring us back in line on the double!
It’s impossible to sum up a person’s character and influence in a couple of paragraphs, so I’ll just share a few of my “Daddy thoughts” this afternoon. A quiet person, he could turn on the charm when he wanted to. Most of the time, however, he stayed in the background while my mother gadded about the house, the neighborhood, the church, the community. She was the social butterfly; he was the observer. While our mother was actively involved in all of our lives (four kids and the grandchildren), he always seemed to have the finger on the pulse. Observing from the sidelines, he knew our quirks, dispositions, and strengths, and yes, weaknesses too. (Sure wish he’d told me that he thought I was as smart as Ann before I was nearly 50! It could have salvaged my damaged psyche.) This ability to read and understand the ones he loved pertained to his grandchildren too.
My father was a hard worker. I didn’t learn the value of working hard from hearing him talk about it. I learned from watching him. (My mother wasn’t a slacker either, but this is about him.) They both sacrificed time, money, and lots of material goodies they could have had if they hadn’t been so intent on providing shelter, clothing, and education for the four of us. And did they complain? Never! My brother Mike and I often speak of how they never ever even hinted that they minded the numerous sacrifices they made for our sakes.
I visited my parents’ graves after church today, and when I looked at his birth and death dates, I realized that he was one month shy of his 19th birthday when I was born. I stood staring at this grave stone in the hot sun and let that fact sink in. David, his fourth child,was born seven years later when Daddy was a week from 26! How did they do it? And what has happened to the sacred role of fatherhood in today’s society? I won’t go there today. I’ll just say how glad I am that John Padgett was my father, a man who took his parenting responsibilities seriously. His children still miss him dearly.